This time of year, it’s often more challenging staying healthy and even more challenging keeping the waistline from expanding. With holiday parties, office Christmas parties, and all the “goodies” people make and/or bring to work in honor of the season, it’s no wonder many people find it difficult to stay on track with healthy eating and exercise. However, it’s important to know that it is possible to still enjoy the holidays without completely wrecking your health and exercise regimen. Here are some helpful tips to do just that.
Start with a healthy breakfast. This cannot be emphasized enough. Eating a healthy breakfast creates the foundation for your day. Having fasted all night while sleeping, your body now needs fuel, and not just any fuel, but something that will sustain and nourish. Even if time is your enemy (or the lack of it), quick, healthy, easy meals are readily at your fingertips. Greek yogurt mixed with frozen berries, oatmeal with raisins, fruit with whole grain toast and a dollop of peanut butter, a protein shake with fresh or frozen fruit, are all options well worth considering. Eating a healthy breakfast will keep your blood sugar from dropping, and you from unhealthy snacking.
Don’t completely deny yourself. It is the holiday season and part of the culture of that is celebrating with food, therefore, rather than denying yourself completely, be mindful of your portions and don’t allow yourself a second serving. The New England Journal of Medicine states that, “the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, and much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating”. Therefore, rather than denying yourself that piece of pecan pie, have a small slice and leave it at that. To help with portion sizes, use small plates.
Watch your alcohol intake. This is hard for many people, particularly during the holiday season. Nonetheless, it’s an absolute if you want to keep the calories at bay and not undo all the hard work you’ve done thus far. Consider consuming one glass of champagne rather than two, or mix your drinks with club soda. If you know a holiday party is in your future and wish to imbibe on a few cocktails, make sure to limit your alcohol during the week.
Stay active. You may be thinking, “easier said than done”, and perhaps thats true. Nonetheless, if you’re determined not to add the traditional “holiday pound” which research shows tends to stay for the rest of life, then you may want to reconsider your commitment to staying fit and healthy. During the holidays, time can seem more limited than usual, but it’s important to remind yourself that not only will exercise keep you fit, it will also help you deal with the added stress of the season.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma studied holiday weight gain among college students during the Thanksgiving break. Holly Hull, the lead researcher on the Oklahoma study stated that, “The holiday season doesn’t represent one day of overeating. You have this period that extends through the new year where there’s more alcohol, more snacks, more finger foods and appetizers that are energy dense”. With this in mind, it’s worth sticking to your exercise regimen as well as taking advantage of every opportunity to burn extra calories. Walking the stairs rather than taking the elevator, a brisk walk during your lunchtime, simple stretches at your desk, all contribute towards your goal of getting and staying fit during this holiday season.
It is possible to enjoy the holiday season without feeling left on the sidelines. Remember these tips and you’ll be able to keep your waistline from stretching, while still enjoying the festivities of the season.