It is said that the average American gains about 7 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. We’re smack dab in the middle of a season of food gifts, cookie exchanges and parties highlighting rich food that can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Is holiday weight gain and a soaring cholesterol level an inevitable result come January 1st? Absolutely not! With some careful thought and a little planning, you don’t have to celebrate the New Year 7 lbs. heavier.
First of all let’s make it clear that we don’t “get fat” from eating too much on Thanksgiving Day or at our annual holiday dinner. It’s what we do on a day-to-day basis between October 31st and December 31st that is the real test as to what our waistlines will look like on New Year’s Day.
With a little pre-planning and some resolve you can enjoy the holiday season, attend your social gatherings and still fit into your clothes come New Year’s Day. Here’s how:
1). Throw out the diet mentality
Telling yourself you “can’t have something” or that you were “bad” at the last party because you ate something you consider off limits will eventually put you into a state of feeling deprived. Shift your thinking to an “everything in moderation” frame of mind. So, eat the pumpkin pie or Aunt Mary’s famous fudge, just don’t go back for seconds. Another little mind trick in order to not over-indulge is to tell yourself (or anyone who is trying to force you to indulge) that you’re choosing not to eat a certain food. Rather than saying “I can’t have that”. Tell yourself “I choose not to eat that right now”. When you think this way, you’re getting yourself out of a deprivation mindset.
2). Eat breakfast
Research shows that those who don’t eat breakfast struggle with weight problems more often. I suggest to my clients at our boot camps in San Jose to eat a breakfast that includes not only complex carbohydrates (like whole grain bread or cereal), but also some protein and a little fat to give the breakfast “staying power”. If you’re full when you arrive at work, that box of chocolates might not be so appealing!
3). Plan your workouts ahead of time
If you don’t already do so, start scheduling your workouts in your PDA or calendar. It’s an appointment with yourself, so get it into your schedule! When you’re time crunched due to holiday gatherings, settle for a shorter workout, but increase the intensity. Need accountability? Schedule a workout with a friend. You’ll be less likely to skip the workout if your friend is waiting for you.
4). Don’t skip meals before a feast
I’m all for eating lighter earlier in the day of a big feast, but if you arrive famished because you haven’t eaten all day, you’re more likely to go overboard calorie wise. Instead, eat lighter during the day, and eat a small snack before heading out the door.
5). Bring healthy food items to potlucks and work events
If you are invited to a gathering to which you must bring food, opt for something healthy and filling. Consider a veggie tray w/low fat dip or hummus. Consider a fresh fruit-based dessert.
7). Easy on the alcohol
We tend not to register the calories that we drink as “food”. Some holiday favorites such as Eggnog and Hot Buttered Rum can add a lot of calories to our diet, yet they go uncalculated in our mental food log. Limit yourself to one serving of those high calorie favorites. If you’re a wine drinker, consider adding some club soda to your glass to make a wine spritzer. Another strategy to decrease calories from alcohol is to drink a glass of sparkling water after each alcoholic beverage—it’ll slow down your alcohol intake.
8). Move more
Not only do I suggest you really buckle down and get regular, hot , sweaty workouts each week–but I’m going to suggest you add in more “other” activity as well. This is the perfect time of year to throw in those other things that simply make you more active during the day: household chores (cleaning out closets, shampooing the carpet), walking the dog, parking across the street from the mall when you shop, playing a pick up game of tennis or football. You may be visiting relatives this season, or you may have relatives visiting you. Get out and move with them.
The bottom line is: You CAN avoid holiday weight gain this year. It just depends on whether you set yourself up to be successful. Focus on what you want, schedule your workouts, plan for indulgences, and move more. It’s pretty simple—you just need to be aware and plan ahead.
Why not challenge yourself to make this holiday season your healthiest yet? You may be surprised at how great you look and feel on January 1st .
Do you have a great way to stay lean over the holidays? Share your idea in the comments section!
Committed to your success,