For some women I work with the holidays are just a few days--Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, maybe New Year's Eve and New Year’s Day. So why not eat whatever you want, right? It’s just a few days. But what I’ve learned is that for most women, it’s not the actual meal that’s the problem, but the work parties, goodies delivered by neighbors and clients, and other social occasions throughout the holiday season that add many calories and extra, unwanted pounds by year’s end.
So I have another idea... why not finish off the year strong and move into 2016 feeling healthy, energetic and ready to take care of you! Try these strategies to avoid those extra unwanted pounds and keep these habits going in the coming year.
Strategy #1: Keep up the Exercise.
Even if you can’t get your full exercise time in, smaller segments of 15-20 minutes can make a difference, especially if you can get a total of at least 30 minutes in each day. It not only burns calories, but helps keep you focused on healthy habits and can influence food choices at a party later that day. If you aren’t currently exercising, there’s no better time than the present to start! By the time January arrives you’ll be feeling stronger and healthier than all those women who waited until “after the holidays” to get started.
Strategy #2: Bring a Healthy Appetizer.
When heading to a work party or get-together with friends, offer to bring a healthy appetizer or entree to the party. This strategy ensures you have at least one healthy choice at the party and if you can convince a friend to do the same, you’ll have two healthy choices guaranteed! Having a couple healthy options can make a big difference in the total calories you consume at the event.
Strategy #3: Choose Your Indulgences Wisely.
Instead of wasting calories on foods that you can have any time of the year, pick items that are your personal holiday favorites and unique to the season. Scan the buffet for foods you will enjoy the most. If you try something and don’t love it, don’t eat it. Be mindful while eating your favorites so you’re sure to savor the flavor. By consciously choosing how to spend your calories and paying attention while eating the food, you end up feeling more satisfied and can cut out the extras that aren’t as enjoyable or are eaten unconsciously.
Strategy #4: Keep a Check on Alcohol.
Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories — especially holiday favorites like eggnog and mixed drinks. And research shows that we don’t cut down on how much we eat when we consume our calories in liquids, so alcohol because extra calories on top of the food calories. You can cut the top off how high your calories go by alternating a non-alcoholic drink (water with lemon or seltzer) between alcoholic beverages.
Strategy #5: Don’t skip meals.
People think by skipping a meal they will save up the calories for the party, but this approach tends to backfire. Walking into a party starving sets yourself up for eating everything in sight. Instead make healthy choices throughout the day and focus on getting all of your servings of fruits and vegetables in before the party. That way if there aren’t many healthy choices at the event, you’ve already gotten plenty of healthy foods for the day.
Tip #6: Don’t go holiday shopping hungry!
To cut down on the lure of the food court and the excessive calories that come with it, never go to the mall or shopping on an empty stomach. Period. Keep some healthy snacks in your car and purse or seek out a place with a salad bar or deli if you’re having a marathon shopping day and need to take a meal break.
The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy the many traditions of the season and the company of family and friends. I encourage you to keep the focus on the spirit of the season and while having healthy strategies in place, so you feel good about you, get through the holidays without gaining a pound and move into 2016 with healthy habits already in place! Cheers to a healthy, happy end to 2015!