Want to avoid weight gain throughout the holiday season only to have to make an unreasonable New Year’s resolution? Here’s 21 tips to help get you through the holiday season “unscathed”!
1. Teeter-Totter “Diet” and “Exercise”
You know your pre-holiday habits. If you exercise three times a week and eat a relatively healthy diet, consider that your baseline heading into the holiday season. Then, enjoy the special holiday events you attend, but counterbalance the extra calories with an extra workout for the week.
Studies have shown that people who sit in a well-lit location, take smaller bites, and chew their food thoroughly are less likely to overeat. You may not have the luxury of sitting down in a well-lit location during holiday festivities, but you can control how fast and how thoroughly you chew your food.
When you slow down to eat, you allow your body to take in the tastes, scents, and textures of the food, which makes the experience more satisfying. If you don’t allow yourself the time to truly enjoy what you eat, you’re more likely to overindulge.
Sign Up for a Holiday Fitness Competition
Most gyms offer fitness competitions for members to help encourage healthy habits during the holiday season. Rather than New Year’s-style weight-loss competitions, holiday competitions generally focus on accumulating total activity.
So if you plan to work out on a regular basis and need a little extra motivation to follow through, sign up to participate in your gym’s competition.
Sign Up for a Holiday Fitness Event
Check local event listings to find running, walking, or cycling races in your area. If you sign up for an event, chances are you’ll follow through on the necessary training. If you have children, look for events with a family friendly focus and get the entire gang involved.
Start and End Each Day Strong
Give yourself enough time each morning to cycle through a quick 10-minute resistance-training circuit and then spend 10 minutes at night performing some type of cardio.
Even if you miss your workout because something came up, you won’t completely ditch your exercise routine if you can do at-home exercises every morning
Celebrate With Activity
Create new holiday traditions with your family by choosing to engage in active celebrations. For instance, instead of driving around your neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights, take a family walk. Every little bit counts, so think creatively and come up with new ways to make the season magical.
Turn Back the Clock
Everyone has heard the suggestions about taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking farther away at the mall, but what about turning back time this season? One day each week, pretend that you don’t have the luxury of modern-day conveniences.
Host Your Own Party
The great thing about hosting your own holiday party is that you can control what foods and beverages you serve. Instead of white rolls and fruity, calorie-laden cocktails, you can stick to whole wheat rolls and wine. Apply this same healthy focus to all of your party appetizer recipes and you can feel good about letting yourself indulge.
Bring Your Own Dishes
It’s considered common courtesy to bring a side dish or two to a party. However, instead of bringing Christmas cookies or pie, bring a healthy salad or chocolate-covered strawberries. Fill your plate with the main course and your own side dishes and you’ll know you’re eating healthy.
Start With Soup or Salad
Studies have shown that you eat less during a single sitting if you start the meal off with a water-based soup or a green salad.
Trade Holiday Events for Eating Out
Americans eat out an average of four times a week, but they get roughly 1/3 of their weekly calories from these meals. If you dine out regularly and also hit the Christmas party circuit, you can easily overindulge.
This holiday season, trade one special meal for another by substituting your holiday parties for your restaurant routine.
Only Eat What You Really Like
I’m a sucker for chocolate chip cookies and anything that combines mint and chocolate, but I couldn’t care less about pies, cakes, or other holiday candy. When I hit a party, I have no problem letting myself enjoy the treats I really love, but I always pass on those I don’t. What’s the point in wasting calories on something you don’t feel strongly about?
Maintain Your Sleep Schedule
Just because you have more opportunities to stay up late and party doesn’t mean you should. Go out and have fun, but call it quits early enough so that you can get plenty of sleep. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Watch What You Drink
Yes, you should watch your liquid calorie intake, but what you drink can also affect the quality of your sleep. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine can interrupt your sleep and leave you feeling worn out the next day. Remember, moderation is key!
Give Up On “Perfect”
Holiday stress management is important. Striving to make Christmas “perfect” for yourself or your family is a nice goal to have, but it creates a lot of pressure. Who needs that kind of stress? Go ahead and aim for “great,” but realize that sometimes “good enough” ends up being a healthier option for you and everyone around you.
Look for Free and Cheap Holiday Options
The holidays are rife with opportunities to spend money, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend money to have a nice holiday. There are many ways to save money during the holidays.
Diet and exercise are the two main factors to consider when it comes to avoiding holiday weight gain. However, stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to overeating, lethargy, and weight gain. Be sure to take steps to reduce your stress level and to make sure you get enough sleep.
Dress Your Best
It’s really tempting to throw on baggy sweaters and loose pants this time of year, but wearing form-fitting clothes can actually make you pay more attention to what you eat and whether your body changes from week to week.
If the pants you put on last week feel a little tight this week, don’t throw them in the back of your closet! Wear them anyway, and just pay more attention to your other healthy habits.
The Final Word
Most weight loss programs only lead to temporary success, so prevent the weight gain before it ever occurs.
Look at it this way: the holiday season is only six weeks long. Maintain a healthy schedule during those six weeks each year, and you could maintain your weight for life! If that isn’t motivation for making healthy choices, I don’t know what is.
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