How would you like to make this year different? And how would it feel to coast through the holidays without gaining all of those unwanted pounds and to stick to those health & fitness goals like you say you will every year?
Here’s my 5 best tips on how to maintain and not gain so you can feel your best and stay healthy this holiday season.
- Schedule your workouts in and make this non-negotiable
If you want to maintain your hard earned efforts over the holidays, you NEED to plan ahead and treat your workouts like you would an appointment. I’ve always preferred to work out in the morning because my energy is at its best, and I have found that it is easier to control my morning routine than it is the afternoon or evening. There seems to be less distractions and my brain is not yet focused on all the things I need to do!
Tips: Each week schedule your workouts into your daily planner or into your calendar you use on your phone. I also like to lay my workout clothes out for the morning so I don’t have to think about finding something to wear. It’s also another subtle reminder of what you have made a commitment to.
If you schedule in your workouts I promise you will dramatically increase your chances of success…..winging it and trying to fit workouts in whenever you have time, usually ends up with workouts never getting done.
Remember a workout does not have to mean spending hours at the gym. 15 minutes a day is all it takes to get results.
Choose an interval style workout that combines some cardio burst with resistance training to keep your heart rate up. Compound moves (which use more than one muscle group) are also best because they will save you time & burn more calories- basically giving you more bang for your buck! Exercises like planks, squats, lunges, push ups and bridges are all you need to stay fit over the holidays.
#1 your workout in help you burn off those extra calories you are probably consuming- I mean we all do right?
#2 getting in our workout will also help set up a healthy mindset– and you will be that much more likely to make better food choices on those days. Serious! I mean who goes and dives into the chip bowl after a workout?
#3- you will consume more water on the days you work out and water is going to be helpful for digestion, and keeping you feeling fuller, and those cravings under control.
#4- you will be creating a healthy habit for life
2. Drink your WATER:
This is especially important during the holiday season when we tend to eat foods higher in salt and sugar. Water is essential for digestion, it will help keep you feeling full longer, curb the carb cravings and decrease the bloat.
Tips: Fill up your water bottles first thing in the morning so you know how much to drink. I do this every day! And if cold water is unappealing try warm water with lemon. Make up a thermos to go.
When it comes to alcohol, try pairing a glass of water with every drink. Not only will this help cut down on the calories, but it will help you from waking up dehydrated in the morning, and wanting to skip your workout!
If you still struggle to get the water in, you can download an app on your phone to remind you to drink water every hour. The app is called “Water Drink Reminder”.
Wondering how much water you should be drinking? In general, 2-3 liters a day. The larger the person and the more active you are means more water.
- Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time
Did you know that during this time of year some people actually crave comfort foods more?!
It’s a side effect of something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that occurs around fall or winter and can cause appetite changes. Which often causes you to crave foods high in carbohydrates (hello, comfort food)! So it’s not your fault, it’s not your lack of “will power”- this time of year can be hard for people!
And while not everyone has this disorder, comfort food is high in demand during this time.
I mean look at Thanksgiving. When you compare it to a summer get together the typical dishes we serve are quite different. Things like sweet potato casserole, fresh buns, to the buttery green bean casserole, to the stuffing, the pie…all of it.
It’s just a slew of comfort foods. And it doesn’t stop there. Other holidays, especially Christmas, and all of the gatherings that go with it, are also filled with a wide variety of comfort foods, that can be really hard to resist!
So how can you be sure that all of your hard work in the gym and in the kitchen doesn’t go to waste between now and New Year’s? Plan ahead!
Around the holidays, we definitely get busier than usual, so planning meals in advance is critical if you want to stay on track. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours meal planning and prepping, but take some time to create a meal plan for the week and have your grocery shopping done so you know you have the right ingredients on hand.
Tips: Keep it simple and always have leftovers available. Make up a huge pot of healthy soup or chili that can be portioned away for another day. You can also make it easier on yourself and buy pre-washed salads and cut up veggies if that’s what it takes to get them in. This will help you stay on track with healthy choices and create less stress.
Allow yourself 1 Cheat Meal or Desert a Week
This is actually a tip I encourage my clients to do while following any nutrition plan. This means choosing to have a meal each week that isn’t on your nutrition plan. This could be a breakfast of choice, a night out or maybe a desert you love. But remember, this doesn’t mean you go overboard and eat the entire pizza! Portions still count. This will help you from feeling deprived and missing out on your favorite foods.
Tips: Save this up for a night out if you know ahead of time it’s going to be hard to say no to the food being offered. And then enjoy your cheat meal without feeling guilty.
- Never go to a party hungry
Has anyone of you ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? And you come how with way more than your list showed? Well it’s the same going to a party hungry. People often think that starving themselves all day will make up for indulging at a party, but the exact opposite is true. You will probably end up eating way more and make some not so good choices than you would have if you had gone to the party on a “primed” stomach.
Tips: Before you go to a holiday party, “prime” your stomach by eating a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit with a few nuts, a couple of boiled eggs, or a small bowl of soup. Choose a snack that contains a healthy protein and fat to keep your blood sugars level and your insulin from spiking….in other words when you arrive at the party, you won’t be craving all the hors d’oeuvres and deserts!
If you’re going to a potluck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share such as a bean salad, veggies with hummus, or fruit tray with a yogurt dip, and that way you’ll know you have at least one healthy item on the table spread.
Should you be concerned about gaining weight because of a one-time indulgence?
One of the myths commonly believed is that the average weight gain during the holiday period is about five pounds or more. However, according to current researchers studying holiday weight gain, it is actually only about one pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Individuals who are already overweight might gain closer to two pounds on average.
While one to two pounds might not sound like a lot of weight, these pounds can add up over time and before long that 2 lbs can turn into 10! Much of the weight we gain as we age is actually a result of these small gains over time. And in case you are wondering, summer plays a similar role.
Maintaining your weight through the holidays is a powerful tool to help you stay slim. With a proper game plan in place and implementing some of these tips I shared, you can enjoy your holidays without adding extra pounds to your waistline.
And… if you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for my FREE 12 Days of Wellness starting December 1st.
When you join me for 12 Days Of Wellness you’ll get easy to implement tips, recipes, & more so that you can stay on track this holiday season without burnout.
J.A. Yanovski, S.Z. Yanovski, K.N. Sovik, T.T. Nguyen, P.M. O’Neil, N.G. Sebring. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. 342 (23) (2000), pp. 861–867
Schoeller DA. The effect of holiday weight gain on body weight. Physiol Behav. 2014 Jul;134:66-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.03.018.