The tail end of each year typically means abundant temptation to over do it with fun foods and beverages for sake of the season. Enjoying the foods you love is never inherently a bad thing, but how often we enjoy them tends to be where things go wrong. Incorporate over-indulgences with lack of exercise or activity over a month or more of time, and you’ve set yourself up for the status-quo 5-10lbs of holiday weight gain, which is actually quite easy to avoid. Let’s hammer out some of my must-know tips and tricks that will help you stay healthy and active without compromising any social gathering, food indulging cheer.
Start your day strong.
This is one of those fundamentals that should become part of your daily repertoire, but even more importantly, through the Christmas season. Wake up with a grateful attitude, and get your body in motion right away. Get your arms up over your head for a quick stretch, bend your legs and breathe deeply as you head to the kitchen for a glass of water. Avoid putting your metabolism into slug-mode by getting your breakfast in within an hour of being up and at em. A good balance of carbs, fat and protein is the way to go, so don’t skimp out with meal one. This will also help keep you satiated so you aren’t tempted to eat yourself into oblivion as the day goes on. Decide what you’re doing for your next meals by taking snacks and food with you. We’ll talk about dining out options shortly.
Be a taste tester.
Just because sugary, savory, salty foods are available in abundance, you don’t need to make a meal of them all. If there are several things you just have to get your hands on, consider slowing down and going a little lighter. Think of yourself as a taste tester, but only for the fun foods you love. Small bites, savored slowly, create a way better experience than devouring something so fast you ‘better eat another just because you didn’t get to enjoy it’. This is a great way to get the festive food cravings out of the way without putting your body in big-time fat-storage mode.
Drink your water.
Of course, you know this. Just be sure you’re consistently drinking throughout the day (water, that is) in order to get at least half your body weight in ounces to a full gallon down, depending on your activity levels. Keeping your water intake up and consistent is as important for your general health as choosing balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. Do this and you’ll feel less prone to chow down on all the fun food.
Eat well around the outings.
This is the season where social gatherings seem to multiply, so being intentional with meals around them is imperative if you want to at least maintain your current body composition. One bad meal doesn’t make someone overweight or unhealthy, just like one great workout won’t make someone look any different, so single out the food festivities so you aren’t making every meal a full on feast or sugarfest, because that will make someone overweight and unhealthy. For example, if there’s a dinner outing where you’ll be eating abundantly, keep your breakfast, and following meals a bit lighter, and pick back up with your balanced meals the next day. If you’re dining out, and you aren’t mentally committed to eating a lot of heavy food or dessert, opt for a balanced option like a protein, carb and vegetable dish with water or tea, rather than bread, appetizers, pasta and dessert. Save the feasting for the festivities that really warrant it, rather than just catching up with coworkers or friends while grabbing a bite.
Don’t drink your calories.
A glass of wine, a sugary hot cocoa, holiday latte, a beer or a cocktail once every so often won’t fill up your fat cells, but indulging in them several times in a week or more will move you in that direction. Saving these beverages for special occasions, rather than blaming the season for a daily indulgence will spare you the extra tire.
The hustle and bustle of extra socializing, gift shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning and just plain ol’ life stacks up quickly. We might ‘feel’ fine, possibly even thrive off the constant go-go-go, but our brains and bodies are more intelligent than we might think. When stress levels rise, so do the hormones in our bodies that contribute to fat storage and other health complications. Make time to be active, and to rest and recharge. Exercise helps release the endorphins that counteract negative emotions and stress, so remember that some is better than none. Commit at least 3 days in the week to put your body in motion and make fit matter, even if that just means being active outdoors, or sneaking in a quick workout at home. When we’re fueling our bodies well, and staying active, our sleep cycles benefit, and recharging with a good night’s rest during the holiday season is a must if keeping stress down and fat storage at bay is a priority.
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