I think one of the funniest and most honest answers I have heard about weight gain was when Oprah interviewed Kirstie Alley regarding her battle with the bulge. When asked why she had gained, lost, then regained so much weight Kirstie stated “it began with the holidays. I would start eating for Halloween and didn’t stop until Valentine’s Day.” The audience laughed and I thought, man, she’s right on the money. Millions of Americans celebrate with food and drinks. The average American gains 7 to 10 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s alone. This year you can avoid those unwanted muffin tops and love handles by making a commitment to fitness and your overall health during this glorious season while still enjoying the holiday spirit.
Follow these simple guidelines to keep you fit and fabulous throughout the holiday season.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Instead drink TONS of water. The average recommendation is at least 8 glasses of 8 oz. per day. Before each meal, drink water. It will fill you up so you will eat less.
- Limit your portion sizes. When indulging in a holiday cooked meal go ahead and try a little bit of everything you like. Just give yourself small portions. When it is a regular day (no holiday) eat healthy! Lean protein, tons of veggies, and whole wheat carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat breads and pastas (come to the dark side).
- Avoid temptations at the workplace and other environments when others bring in goodies. My husband works for UPS. It never fails that every holiday the wives of his co-workers bake the most delicious goodies for his entire crew. I always say his co-workers like to “fatten” the team up for the holiday season. I personally put a disclaimer on this issue way ahead of time in my line of work. Even while running a gym, our members would bring in baked cookies, brownies, and other holiday delights. Although it is extremely considerate for the wives at my husband’s workplace as well as the members of our gym to bring us the goodies, I encourage them to NOT bring them in. My famous quote when asked if I would like the given piece of cake, cookie, or whatever delightful treat that is offered to me is “of COURSE I want that…now don’t ever ask me again!” Although it is a kind gesture it also adds to that unwanted weight gain during the holiday season. Not that I am ungrateful for the gifts. It just doesn’t need to be “stuff yourself throughout the holidays EVERY DAY.”
- Before attending a holiday party eat a healthy meal. When you arrive you will not be famished and can simply nibble at the food buffet.
- When drinking holiday drinks such as eggnog, wine, beer, or spirits make a huge effort to drink water in between each drink. Try to limit the alcohol consumption as much as possible (in other words, watch for binge drinking). Not only will you save those empty calories you would have consumed you also will avoid any embarrassing behaviors that you may display in a drunken stupor. Remember you have to face these people the next day…sober. And you might not recall anything. Alcohol also makes your body dehydrated. By consuming water you stay healthier by maintaining that necessary water intake your body desperately needs.
- When it comes to the desert buffet try a little bit of everything. Just in very small doses. Think forkfuls of each pie. But that’s it. You get the taste but you don’t have to eat a huge piece of every pie.
- Begin or maintain a good fitness routine. Keep your workouts a priority every week. For some of us we began partying at Thanksgiving and “give up” until after New Year’s Day with the mentality that you will be more motivated AFTER the holidays. As Americans we will use any excuse to party and celebrate with food and drink. It is NOT one big holiday reason for over indulgence. Do not let your mind fall into that method of thinking. I actually overheard a woman in the grocery store the other day cramming a piece of pumpkin pie down saying “it’s the holidays…I’m supposed to gain weight.” It does not have to be that way and please do not use the holidays as an excuse for gluttony.
- Give the gift of health to yourself or others. Right now is a perfect time to purchase gift certificates. Rather than the usual, consider a gym membership, Personal Training sessions, massage therapy, or alternative choices. We have a great women’s alternative fitness center here in the Dr. Phillips area called Vixen Fitness. It offers fun and flirty fitness classes for women such as pole dancing, belly dancing, Yoga, and Cardio Hip-Hop. Grab a group of your gals and try something new. Not only will you push yourself perhaps, out of your comfort zone, you also will be moving and grooving while burning tons of calories.
- Realize that the holiday doesn’t have to be perfect. Not every gift may be the perfect selection, the lights on the house aren’t up the day after Thanksgiving, you haven’t started shopping and you only have ten days to go. Who cares! Remember what you are celebrating. Life, love, and if it is Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Stress can add to weight gain. Try to brush off the rude remarks or tasteless jokes from your Uncle or any unruly family members. The holidays are hard but we chose to make them difficult. It’s supposed to be a celebration. Not the opposite. Take deep breaths and focus more on yourself, your family, and the real meaning of the holiday you are celebrating.
- Last but not least, give yourself permission to feast on the ACTUAL holiday. It is simply one day. Enjoy it because you won’t see it again until next year if we are all blessed. Just get right back on track with healthy eating and your fitness regimen as soon as the celebration is truly over.