Wednesday, November 23

Surviving the Holidays

Tomorrow, turkeys will be roasting, pies will be baking and elastic waistbands will be expanding all over America.

It is possible to enjoy the holidays without wrecking your healthy habits, but it takes some planning.

Below are my favorite holiday tips. Advice I’ve gleaned from experts over the years that help me enjoy the holidays and keep my fat pants where they belong, buried in the back of the closet.

  • Shift into weight maintenance mode. Losing weight during the holidays is unbelievably difficult, so shift your focus to simply not gaining weight. Maintain the status quo, i.e., exercise when you can, opt for healthy snacks and meals and pick up the weight loss goal when the holiday goodies and parties have disappeared.  Do this and you’ll be way ahead of most people in January. The typical weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is five pounds.
  • Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. The party invites have started to pour in. That’s good, and bad. As I noted in last week’s blog, beverages are a huge source of hidden calories. To keep the calories to a minimum, after enjoying an alcoholic beverage have a zero-calorie nonalcoholic drink. I like to alternate with a glass of water. This keeps me hydrated and prevents me from over-consuming at the buffet table. A side effect of a little too much alcohol. 
  • Prepare to party. Before heading out to the cocktail party or happy hour, decide what you’re going to indulge in and cut back on calories during the day in anticipation. And stick to your plan! 
  • Eat and drink before you go. Don’t ever show up to a party hungry. That’s like taking a sex addict to a brothel. The temptation to indulge is overwhelming. Eat a light snack before you go, ideally something with protein and/or fiber so you’ll feel full. (e.g., a cup of Greek yogurt or apple slices with peanut butter or veggies and hummus) And chase it with a tall glass of water. You’ll arrive hydrated and satiated and be less likely to slam down the first drink and dive into the spinach and artichoke dip.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not stand next to the buffet table. It’s absolutely impossible to stand next to a table of food and not graze. You’ll munch mindlessly, devouring a bowl of M&Ms before you know it. Don’t put yourself in this position. Get a plate, choose what you want and walk away. Far, far away.
  • Channel your inner toddler. If you really think about holiday food, most of it isn’t that good. Store bought cookies and cakes, ho hum. Green bean casserole, no thank you. Be a food critic. Take a little bite, if it’s not stupendous, pass. Save your calories for the things you absolutely love and pass on all the stuff that’s just “okay.”
  • Move, move, move. With holiday shopping gearing up, gym attendance typically goes down. Don’t let that translate into no movement at all. Find little ways to increase your movement throughout the day. Take the stairs, park far away from store entrances or go for a walk after meals. Every bit of activity will help burn those extra calories.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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