It’s that time of year again — the holidays are here. With them, so are the parties, cocktail hours, cookies and amazing food. After working hard all year — or maybe you started yesterday — how do you maintain your weight with all the craziness?
Here are nine tips to maintain your weight and your sanity throughout the holidays.
1. Be Active
Whether you plan to walk after a big meal, have your family join in for a dance party or keep your regular fitness routine, staying active will be key. During the holidays, excuses are made around traveling, time constraints and weather. Planning for exercise while traveling, or bringing movement into a situation where there usually isn’t any can make a big difference. Stepping into a gym isn’t necessary — little actions with consistency over time will feel great and help work off some of the extra consumed calories.
2. Drink Extra water
The extra sweet and savory treats that only come around once a year can add bloat from salt, as well as extra calories from sugars. Drinking alcohol also causes inflammation, on top of the added calories. If you are traveling or under any sort of stress, there can be a rise in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism and reducing inflammation. When cortisol levels rise, the body is thrown off balance and ends up holding weight. Drinking extra water can help flush the body of the culprits causing inflammation and bloat, and it can help to reduce cortisol levels.
Use your vacation as an excuse to sleep in a little or try to hit the sack early. Sleep starts recovery, reduces stress and helps fight inflammation. Planning in advance for the holiday parties and late-night events will highlight the nights to stay in, get some extra shut-eye and recuperate.
4. Monitor Portion Sizes
Holidays are built around friends, family and food. Grandma only makes her famous pie once a year, and no one wants to miss out. Controlling portion sizes can make a difference in caloric intake, as well as the potential dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out), followed by guilt. Have a bite or two but skip on seconds. Choose the season’s favorite dishes and leave out the items that are made all year long. When serving your plate, consider the “hand” method for measuring: Palm = Protein (turkey), Fist = Complex carbohydrate (mashed potatoes or stuffing), Open hand = Green vegetables (salad), Thumb = Fat (oil, avocado or cheese). This will keep the plate full but the calories manageable.
5. Count liquid calories
Every holiday party comes with some sort of beverage that is delicious and full of calories. Being conscious of the intake is a great start, but here are some other tips: switch out a sugary mixed drink for your choice of alcohol and club soda; drink a 12-ounce glass of water in between each glass of wine; choose the low-fat eggnog or opt to abstain from the holiday drinks and choose flat or sparkling water.
6. Contribute a healthy option
Whenever an event is potluck style, bring a healthy option to the table. Roasted squash with fresh herbs, a bright salad loaded with colorful vegetables or a lean protein (in case your daily vegetable intake is not enough, check here!). Chances are, there are others at the table trying to keep from adding to their waistlines!
7. Grab an accountability buddy
Grab a family member, friend or colleague and make a plan. Keep track of nutrition throughout the week through an app or send each other a log at the end of the day. Meet at the gym to ensure both people make it to the scheduled workouts. Help each other when an event is coming to stick to the limits that were planned: only one drink, resist dessert or leave early for extra sleep.
8. Eat clean before/ After an event
Eating clean throughout the day before an event can help keep the night’s indulgences less enticing. Protein-rich snacks, such as lean meats, low-fat Greek yogurt and low-fat cheese with nuts keep the muscles fueled and help reduce the risk of excessive snacking. High fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains keep the body fuller longer!
9. Avoid Guilt
If there is pressure to indulge, and it is not in the plan, just say “No, thank you.” Excuses shouldn’t be necessary, but if required, use comments like: “I ate right before I got here.” “I’m already full, I couldn’t eat another bite,” or “I have an early morning and want to be clear-headed. I will grab a drink with you another time.” If the plan is to indulge, indulge on purpose. Have a bite of that favorite dish that is only made once per year, and enjoy it. If alcohol was over-consumed, drink water, get extra sleep and go sweat it out. One night will not ruin the efforts of the week or year, so don’t let the guilt overpower the pleasure of the event