With Thanksgiving and Winter holidays right around the corner, and holiday planning beginning to gear up, now is a good time to put a few strategies in place to keep your holiday weight gain at bay and stay in shape this season.
It’s said that the average American gains between 5 and 10 pounds from November through the New Year. It’s easy to understand why. We are so busy running errands, attending social events and dealing with stressors, that over indulging in rich decadent food and drink as well as skipping exercise is really tempting.
Staying in shape doesn’t mean not enjoying a treat or two. Nor does it mean that you must be so ridged about your workouts that it adds another layer of stress. I always take a taste of my favorite foods such as egg nog, dark chocolate fudge and lemon curd in philo cups during the holidays. What usually ends up happening is that after the first few tastes, I’ve had enough, and we end up giving away the rest! And when it comes to exercise, if we can’t make our usual workouts, I go back to walking. I find it soothes me and, well, you have to walk while running errands, so I add extra steps to my errand running, like parking further out if it’s safe, or taking an extra walk around the mall if I have the time.
Over the years, I found that setting up a few ground rules for myself has kept me from gaining weight during the holidays. Sometimes I play a game with myself to see if I can weigh exactly the same on January 2 than I did the prior November.
How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: 8 Secrets
1.Make it a goal not to gain weight or skip workouts through the holidays.
After I lost my extra weight 11 years ago, I made a pact with myself that I would never regain the weight. That meant I had to maintain the successful habits I had created for myself while I was losing weight. By setting the intention “I am not going to gain weight this holiday season” you set the bar for yourself. Next, have a little fun with it. I like to track my progress and have mini celebrations when I achieve a goal, and if I do have a set back, I get back on the wagon right away.
2.Weigh yourself once a week.
Successful people track their progress. I still weigh myself weekly, on Sunday morning. If I’m up a pound or two, I am more intentional on my food choices until I see the weight come back down and stabilize before having more treats. The scale is a guide, it lets you know how you are doing. Some people hate the scale and “negative” feedback. When I see that the scale is going in the wrong direction, I look at it as information. I then think through what went wrong and how I can get better results. I love asking “how can I improve this?” How can I get from point a to point b? In the past, I’ve felt panicked when things weren’t going the way I hoped. Now I sit back and think through what is going on and how I might improve things.
3. Stick to your diet and exercise routine as much as possible.
If you over indulge or miss a workout, get right back to your healthy routine the next day or the next meal. Don’t be super hard on yourself. We all have a bad day or two. The key to success is bringing yourself back on track, again and again. I like to track my workouts on a calendar so I am clear about how much I am actually missing. Marking my calendar with a smile for each workout and each day I eat healthfully lets me see my progress.
4. Plan ahead.
When dining out for the holidays, look at menus in advance and make food choices before hand. I check menus before going out to any new restaurant and figure out what items fit my diet. If you have specific issues, you can even call ahead or look up the ingredient lists, Weight Watchers Points, and calories and more. Because I have it all sorted out before hand, my friends aren’t even aware that I am watching my weight.
I also feel good because I don’t end up making a last minute decision I might regret. I am also less tempted when I know what I am having before hand. Bonus: I almost always cut the meal in half and place it in a to-go box right away so I am not tempted to eat more than I need.
5. When invited to a potluck or buffet, bring a dish to pass that meets your dietary requirements.
There is nothing worse than being invited to eat, and discovering that nothing on the menu is on your diet. That’s why I love potlucks. As a guest you can ensure that there is at least one thing you can eat, because you brought the dish yourself. That way its not on the hostess to plan round your needs–special diets can be tricky for hostesses.
6. Eat a light meal before going to cocktail parties
I will often eat my last meal of the day BEFORE going to a cocktail party. That way, I am not temped to eat or drink too much. Because cocktail parties are mingling events, no one pays attention to whether you ate or not. Because I don’t drink alcohol, I will often bring a bottle of water to sip on during the evening. I go home feeling hydrated and not too full to sleep.
7. Keep track of drinks.
A huge number of empty calories are found in festive drinks, which not only add pounds but are also dehydrating. Drink a glass of water before having your first cocktail and one at the end of the night. This helps you drink less and stay hydrated. One friend keeps track of her drinks by keeping the stir stick. That way, she could see how many drinks she’d had by counting the stir sticks. However you keep track-just remember that many drinks have as many calories as a full day’s worth of food. Plus the sugars and alcohol are terrible for your waistline and brain.
8. Build in time for rest.
Years ago, I would get so frazzled around the holidays trying to stay on top of everything, I’d end up getting sick. I began planning “Princess Days” or afternoons off for Brooke and me. We’d pamper ourselves with at home facials, pedicures or a holiday movie. Building in ‘down’ time during the holidays is a must these days.
These are the strategies I have used year after year to stay healthy, slim and somewhat sane during the holidays. I hope they help you as you navigate the holiday season. If you are interested in more weight loss posts, be sure to check out these posts.
Do you have successfully strategies for navigating the holidays? Please share your tips with us in the comments!