Don’t wait to start exercising and eating right in the new year…START NOW!!!
I know I say this a lot, but eating healthy and exercising daily shouldn’t just be something you decide to do every now and then when the timing’s right. Instead, it should be something you make a daily part of your life.
I used to have the mindset that I would start eating right and working out after the holidays, because what was the point with all the holiday treats? And then, I would spend the month of January working off the pounds from a few days in November and December.
I love the holidays, and quite honestly, I plan on having a cookie or two and some of those Cadbury candies I love. However, I will also be eating everything in moderation and trying to make smart, healthy decisions overall so the not-so-smart decisions don’t ruin my attempts of living a healthier lifestyle. I will also be bringing healthy sweet treats to everywhere I go.
Facts About Holiday Weight Gain
The average amount of weight people gain during the holidays usually depends on what study you look at. I have read about one pound is average, but then I’ve also read 5-10 pounds is average.
Upon further research, it seems there are two categories people fall into when it comes to gaining weight during the holidays:
- 1-2 pounds: Individuals who are within their healthy weight range.
- 5-10 pounds. Individuals who are overweight.
What Does It Take to Gain 5lbs of Fat?
To gain five pounds of fat this holiday season would take 17,500 excess calories. That is equivalent to consuming about 25lbs of turkey or 125 oz shortbread cookies.
The worst part? You would need to exercise at high intensity for about a 40 hours to burn off those excess calories! Sound fun? Probably not.
So instead of worrying about doing a typical week’s worth of exercise to burn off what you eat this holiday season, I want to share my top 10 tips on how I help keep the extra pounds at bay when the holiday songs begin to play.
10 Tips to NOT Gaining the Holiday Five
Before we get to any tips, I want you to remember that the holidays are a time to enjoy spending time your family and friends. It should always be enjoyable – not a time when you worry about every single thing you’re putting into your body.
Take the following tips and use the ones you think will help you most, but remember to have a good time and don’t freak out if you slip up on your diet here and there.
1.) Work Out in the Morning
Don’t skip your workouts! This is the big one that will help prevent extra weight gain this holiday season. And what better way to make sure you get your workout in than to do it before the rest of your busy day starts.
Maybe you need to do a ½ hour workout instead of an hour-long workout. As long as you’re getting your workout in, it doesn’t matter. Don’t skip.
If you get your workout in before the crazy days begin, you will find the rest of the day is much more pleasant. Plus the “I have to work out later” cloud hanging over your head all day long will be completely lifted.
I’m definitely into working out later in the day, but if I know I have plans in the evening, I make sure to exercise earlier than usual. No excuses!
2.) Indulge, Don’t Binge
If you feel sick to your stomach after eating, then you either ate bad food or more likely, you ate too much. While a piece of your favorite pie is a good idea, having a slice of every pie being offered and sampling all the cookies is not such a good idea if you’re looking to stay healthy.
Hot tip: Stick to homemade foods, and try not to eat anything that comes out of a bag! I’m talking mostly about potato chips and M&Ms – not nuts. Nuts are actually a great healthy snack to grab a small handful of at parties, because they are good source of healthy fat and will keep you full. If you must indulge in chips or candy, have one handful, not multiple handfuls.
3.) Reduce Your Stress Levels
Shopping, cleaning, cooking, traveling, not enough sleep, long work hours, family fights are just some of the things that can cause stress during the holidays. And what stress does to your body goes beyond the unhealthy effects it has on your mind and your heart. Stress also raises your cortisol levels, which causes weight gain. Don’t strive for perfection during the holidays, you will almost most certainly not get there, so the best thing to do is take everything in stride.
I like to write down 10 things I am grateful for every night, and then meditate before bed to help clear my mind and ensure a good night’s rest. I also will go for a massage, get a manicure, get a new hairstyle, or just make sure to do at least one indulgence I like to do each week that feels rewarding.
4.) Travel with Healthy Snacks
If you are going to being spending a good portion of your day in the car for long trips, plan ahead. Here is a list of healthy snacks you can easily travel with.
- Celery sticks with almond butter
- Apple with almonds
- Bananas and mixed unsalted nuts
- Jerky containing no MSG
5.) Pile on the Protein and Veggies
The healthiest option at the dinner table is going to be the lean white meats and the veggies. Look out for foods that are processed, mashed and/or creamy, because these are weight gainers, usually containing lots of butter or added preservatives.
6.) Eat Before the Party Starts
Office holiday parties can be a really fun time, but a nightmare when you’re trying to eat healthy. Try to have a light snack or small meal an hour or so before the party starts – this way you won’t be starving and nosh on everything you shouldn’t be eating.
Here are a few more tips to surviving office parties.
- Go for the cut raw veggies first
- Be a nibbler, sample the dessert tray
- Go with sparkling water at the bar or one glass of wine
7.) Eat Slowly and Chew Completely
As what usually happens when you engage with those you haven’t seen for a while, you will most likely find yourself sitting around a dinner table for quite some time. Chew slowly and at least 20 times before swallowing to ensure proper digestion and your plate will last longer. Here are how eating slowly can help:
- You’ll eat fewer calories. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to realize your stomach is full, so if you prolong your eating, it is likely you will notice yourself feeling fuller instead of eating quickly and feeling the overfull effect.
- You will digest your food better. Digestion begins in the mouth, which means the more you chew your food, the easier time your stomach will have digesting it.
8.) Go for a Walk
You might want to hit the couch for a nap after eating – usually after eating too much, but not much good is going to come of that. A better alternative? Go for a brisk 15 minute walk with the family to catch up on things. This can be a great time to bond, and the walk will can help your body by lowering your blood glucose as your muscles use the glucose for energy and it will help aid digestion.
9.) Enjoy the Right Drinks (Never Soda!)
One of the fondest memories I have of the us kids being at the holiday table are the 2-liter soda bottles everywhere. If you have read this blog before, you know my view on soda and diet soda. I just do not see how it can be helpful to the body in any way. And after you’ve managed to wean yourself off, it’s actually not that good.
However as an adult, I have the grown-up selections of beer, wine, or liquor.
My preference? A large glass of water before the main course. Since we will be having a roast this year, I will also be enjoying a glass of room temperature red wine. So if you’re looking for the healthiest option this holiday season, red wine is probably your best option for its many health benefits, but a darker beer is also a not-too-bad choice.
The biggest thing to remember with your adult beverages this holiday season is not to overdo it. Excess alcohol is more counteractive to your health than helpful, and the excessive empty calories in your alcoholic beverage will easily pack on pounds before you know it. Moderation!!!
10.) Plan Ahead
Have to go to Aunt Mary’s sit down dinner, and then end up at the cousin’s booze fest? Before I go anywhere for the holidays, whether it’s Christmas dinner or the holiday office party, I have a general plan of what I will be eating, drinking, and doing.
My main goal no matter what is to always eat whole foods and stay away from the processed ones.
Here is what my Thanksgiving Day will look like:
Shortly after waking, I will start baking something healthy to bring places (please leave a comment below if you have any good ideas!) Once everything is prepped, I will take a short walk with the dogs followed by one of my favorite workouts. After working out, I will finish cooking up whatever I decide to make and enjoy a small protein rich breakfast of scrambled eggs with vegetables and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.
Once we are at our family members’ house, the main course is usually around 2pm. Until that time, I will snack on the healthy appetizers like fruit, nuts, olives and shrimp, while drinking water until the main course begins. For the main course, I’ll eat whatever is on the table, except for dressings – unless of course, they’re olive oil-based dressings. Then, I may have a glass of wine with my main meal, but will always make a conscious effort to “eat slowly and chew often.”
After dinner, I’ll go out for a short brisk walk to get some fresh, and likely frigid, air. Upon our return to the house, I’ll have a slice of pie or a cookie, and we’llenjoy some football.
Then, when we hit the road again, which depending what I ate, I might have a snack for the trip. And then, we will continue to enjoy the rest of the evening with the family and friends.
How do you plan on keeping off the holiday pounds? Please leave a comment below.