Traditionally, we head into the holiday season where, believe it or not, the average person gains in the neighborhood of 15 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. And I think we all know that’s not lean muscle we’re talking about. We’re surrounded by temptations, we eat fatty foods and way more sweets than usual, and we find it way too easy to turn on a nice Christmas television special or bowl game and just park it for many hours.
Sure, we deserve breaks and a chance to relax, and who doesn’t enjoy trying special treats the neighbors have dropped off? We all have to indulge a little. That’s OK! It is the holidays and there are many festivities to participate in.
The best news in all of this is that you can enjoy the holidays, try a lot of different culinary creations, and still be the healthiest “you” ever. You can have a wonderfully healthy, lean holiday season that leaves you entering the new year leaner, feeling better, and the envy of all of your friends who overindulged and are now in the workout club paying for it.
Here are some tips to help you look great, feel great, and emerge from the holidays proud of the choices you’ve made in support of your wellness program:
- Don’t supersize. Go for small portions, or at least reasonable ones. Moderation is always the key. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to go crazy and fill two plates when you normally only have one.
- Make a conscious effort to limit fatty foods and processed food. Organic and natural is the way to go for your health and heart.
- Treat yourself to a nice drink, dessert, chocolate or baked treat without guilt, but limit yourself to one until the next time.
- Drink “low-fat” eggnog. Look, there’s no excuse, the low-fat or soy versions taste just as good with half the calories. This is a “no-brainer”.
- Don’t go to a party hungry, eat something before you go. You’re not going to miss out. Chances are they’re not going to serve food for an hour or two anyway. If you refrain from starving yourself or showing up famished, you will tend not to overeat.
- Stay away from holiday “buffets”. Period.
- Drink less alcohol or abstain altogether. Folks, these are empty calories. Ladies, alcohol weight goes right to your rear end and thighs. Guys, your mid-section takes the hit on this one. We all know that spare tire is a killer to get rid of in January or February. Don’t even go there. Try small portions, light beer, and drinks that are less heavy.
- Drink a lot of water. Alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body quickly and in the craziness of our holiday calendars and events we can forget to drink any for hours.
- Aim for seven helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. There are plenty of great options usually available throughout the season, such as squashes, fresh berries, tangerines, grapes, green beans, sweet potato, asparagus, and leafy greens.
- Keep a regular workout plan throughout the holidays and your time off, even if it’s simply taking walks around the neighborhood, stretching, or at-home yoga. Get those muscles working and your blood moving!
- Eat nuts as a nice protein alternative to high-fat chips, dips, and processed junk. The chip aisle at the supermarket is a rocketship to weight gain.
- Don’t spend 12 hours in front of the television just because there’s no school or schedule that day. Get outside, take on a new project, volunteer, help a neighbor or family member. Get in the act of routinely “doing” and not simply “watching”. It burns way more calories.
- Learn to say “no thank you” politely. It’s alright to turn someone down for a sweet or fatty food. If they’re your true friend they will respect your goals you’ve set for yourself and support your boundaries. If they don’t, that’s on them, not you.
- Realize that “you” are in charge of what you want to become with regards to your own health and wellness. There are going to be times where it’s just you and the treat tray and you have to stay committed even when nobody’s watching. You can do it!
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