As much as I love the approaching holidays, I also get a little nervous this time of year. My track record for staying healthy and fit during the holidays is not stellar. So I worry that I will put on weight during all the holiday feasting that will be extremely difficult to get off when the tinsel is put away. Do you have a plan that will help you stay healthy and fit during the holidays? Well let’s get one today!
WHY I NEED A PLAN TO STAY HEALTHY AND FIT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
You may have read earlier here that I lost about 20 pounds last winter. I feel so much better now that I have that 20 pounds off and I’ve built fat-burning muscle. I sleep better, feel better in my clothes, look healthier and leaner and have more fun getting dressed each day. I really want to keep that weight off.
Plus, while the average American adult only gains one to two pounds from Thanksgiving through Christmas, it’s also proven that many adults never lose those pounds. So holiday weight gain accounts for a large portion of the weight we adults tend to accumulate through the years.
Also, while studies have indicated that it would only take about seven days to lose the weight most of us put on during the holidays, there is more at risk than weight gain. I tend to get out of my good habits – both diet and exercise – during the holidays and develop unhealthy habits in the same areas. Bad habits are difficult to break and we struggle even more with developing good ones. I don’t want to have to lay track I’ve already successfully laid in the past!
So beginning today, just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, let’s choose to stick with a plan that will help us not only keep off the unwanted holiday pounds, but also stick with some healthy habits.
MY PLAN TO STAY HEALTHY AND FIT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
DAILY GOALS AND ROUTINES
- Catch 7-8 hours sleep most nights.While holiday celebrations and vacations may keep you up later than usual some nights, it’s important to get our 7-8 hours of shut-eye most nights. Sleep restores your body, but it is also crucial for calorie burning and keeping the weight off.
- Consistently drink plenty of water.Often we overeat because we think we’re “starving” when we’re really just thirsty. It’s a good idea to drink a large glass of water before each meal, and to drink plenty of hydrating fluids throughout the day. Especially at parties and gatherings, drinking a large glass of water can help ward off overeating.
- Continue your exercise plan. Even though schedules may vary during the holidays, we’ll feel healthier, perform better mentally and physically and of course stay more fit if we’ll continue our exercise plans as much as possible.
HOLIDAY GATHERINGS AND PARTIES
- Eat a healthy, satisfying meal just before attending buffet and appetizer parties. If you’re not going to be sitting down to a meal, but you’re going to have the opportunity to “graze” on goodies throughout the evening, it’s better to head off the temptations with a filling meal before going to the festivities. Eat something healthy, but also something you enjoy, so you don’t feel deprived. You pre-party meal doesn’t need to be a punishment!
- Explain the party plan to yourself.Before going to a “grazing” party, remind yourself that the goal is to mix and mingle with people, not to “eat all the things.”
- Enjoy the people more than the food.Sometimes we “enjoy” the food so much we end up miserable. Isn’t it better to enjoy the people? I need to remind myself that the holidays are not just about food.
- Either/or. When attending holiday dinners or meals, decide to have either…or. You get to pick. You could decide to have either an appetizer or a dessert. You could decide to have either mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. You could choose either a glass of wine or a specialty coffee. Or you could have a roll with your meal or a Christmas cookie afterward. You get the idea. Set up as many or few either/ors as you feel comfortable with.
- Equip yourself with some handy tools.Take some gum or mints to pop in your mouth after you’ve had enough to eat at the party. Better yet, you can take your toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse and excuse yourself to the powder room for a quick brushing. Once you have a clean feeling mouth you’re less likely to continue to indulge.
- Enlist to help your hostess with some hostessing duties that get you away from the buffet line. You could help with guests’ coats, refill water glasses, load the dishwasher, take the children outside for a while, etc.
GETTING IN THE WORKOUT
- Put some winter fun into your winter workouts. Instead of going to the gym, you might take a brisk walk through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. Or you could go ice skating, skiing or walking through the snow. Have some fun!
- Park in the boon docks. When you’re shopping, opt for the parking space far from the mall. Maybe walk to the post office instead of driving. Going to breakfast out? Walk from your home, if possible, rather than driving. Or at least park down the street from the restaurant.
- Play with the kids and/or grandkids.The dishes can wait; go for that after-Thanksgiving-dinner walk with the rest of the family. Better yet, join in on the Frisbee toss, the tag football game or the local Turkey Trot. Get out of the kitchen/laundry room/whatever…and play!
- Consider incorporating a 24-hour fast into your eating plan each week. That doesn’t mean you have to go a full day without eating. Instead, eat a decent dinner one night and then don’t eat again until 24 hours later. When you do eat dinner the next night, eat a normal, healthy meal, and resist the urge to overindulge. A 24-hour fast gives your body time to dip into fat stores and helps get your digestive system back on track from irregular eating.
- Celebrate without food occasionally.We tend to make food the centerpiece in many of our holiday celebrations, but that’s not necessarily healthy. Go Christmas caroling, look at the Christmas lights, sing carols around the piano, reminisce with friends and family, deck the halls and exchange gifts without the extra goodies…at least occasionally.
- Create homemade goodies and gifts to exchange that aren’t laden in calories and fat. Sure, bake your usual batch of sugar cookies (or whatever your specialty is), but stop there with the indulgences. Then create a crudités platter that looks like a Christmas tree. Or make a yummy granola to add to your yogurt and fruit. Maybe pop some popcorn instead of indulging in fudge.
- Coordinate with an accountability partner. Give a sweet friend or your spouse permission to ask you the hard questions: Have you gotten your workout in today? How did you do at the buffet last night? Have you been drinking your water each day? Do you have a game plan for the party tonight?
- Do what you can. Look. It is the holidays. Give yourself permission to slide a little. This can be a stressful and busy time in a woman’s life. Still, get in the workout you can manage. A 15-minute weight training workout or a 1 mile jog is better than none.
- Do away with the “last meal” mentality. Do you get that way? Sometimes I think, for instance, that I better eat that fudge or Christmas cookie because it may be the last I have until next Christmas. Hogwash. I can have a piece of fudge in July or a sugar cookie in October! But when I allow that inner voice to convince me I better eat up or else…then I over indulge. Bottom line? We need to think sensibly about the holiday goodies.
- Delight in the calorie-free holiday indulgences. Enjoy a holiday manicure or massage, sit in front of a roaring fire and listen to Christmas music, light a holiday scented candle and read a Christmas novel. Remind yourself that these little indulgences are just as sweet as…well…the sweets!