Thursday, November 11, 2010

CHOOSE, MOVE, REFUSE: Avoiding the Slippery Slope of Holiday Weight Gain Between Halloween and New Years...

The weeks between Halloween and New Years are a slippery slope.
   Our clean eating starts to slide with the Halloween candy we have to finish up, then really goes down hill due to our extra busy schedules and tons of holiday parties! By the middle of November we have tossed all of our good intentions to eat clean out the window and decide to start again after January 1st!
   However, this is not a good plan. Studies have shown people gain anywhere between 1-7 lbs over the holidays and this weight is not lost during the new year.
  But you can do things differently this year!! If you stick to my 3 rules for holiday season weight maintenance,  you can enjoy yourself, eat some yummy food and not gain weight....

   The 3 rules are:
1.   CHOOSE:
     Decide ahead of time when you will indulge.....a little. And stick to it.

  If you do not want to gain the usual 2-5 lbs over the holiday season, you cannot eat every time that you are presented with yummy treats.  And there will be a lot of them...
Holiday Parties
Friends Homes (bowls of candies and cookies laid out)
Family Gatherings
Shopping with Friends (stopping for a holiday coffee)
School Parties
Office Parties/lunches/bowls of candies and cookies in lunch room
etc. etc...

    So, you must CHOOSE which of these special occasions you will splurge at and which you won't. Remember you should only choose a very few to indulge at. 
  Think about all of the events that you know you will be attending.  Pick out the most important ones to you. For example, For me they are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and a special party night before Thanksgiving.
 When you are deciding which events you will splurge on, remember,
*You don't need to have a treat at every special event you go to. Which ones are most meaningful to you?
*You don't need to eat every time others around you are eating.
*Pick a few special events that have food that you don't usually have during the year, that represents the holiday in a significant way. For example, I make homemade Cinnamon buns for every Christmas morning and we all eat them with coffee and hot chocolate while we open our presents. I wouldn't miss that for the world!  What are yours?

 2. MOVE
  The second rule to avoid sliding down the slippery slope is to move! And by move , I mean exercise.
Now I understand that we are all extra busy at this time of year and exercising often gets put to the bottom of our to do list. However,  it is crucial to find at least 30 minutes a day to workout. If you have to, get up early and exercise or workout at lunch time. Dust off your treadmill or stationary bike and put it in front of the TV. Jump on at night instead of snacking.  Start using that gym membership you bought months ago and never use, or hire a personal trainer to come to your home and work you out.
  Working out will also help you relieve all of that holiday stress.  Let's face it, the holidays are the best time of the year, but dinner with your crazy relatives can get a little stressful! (Or is that just me??)Working out will make you feel great physically and mentally!

   The last piece of staying on track during this time of year is to refuse to eat every yummy treat you are offered. I know that it is hard to say no when everyone around you is eating and drinking. You feel like a major party pooper! I get it.
  Pressure to eat at the office is often very high at this time of year. There are tons of office parties and people very often get offended if you do not eat their holiday cookies they made just for you!
 But remember, your health is more important than your co-workers'/friends'  feelings about what you eat. People often feel uncomfortable when they want to indulge and the people around them aren't, so they will try their best to pressure you to eat with them.
 However, you must keep telling yourself that you do not have to eat high calorie foods in order to enjoy the holiday spirit with your co-workers and friends. When someone says to you "Are you sure you don't want some" it's OK to think "Yes, yes I do." but then remind yourself that you have already predetermined which gatherings you are going to splurge at and which you aren't. Pop a mint or piece of sugar free gum in your mouth and just smile. Remember that eating that piece of cheese cake will take about 3 minutes to finish, but losing those extra pounds, all of those extra cheese cakes will put on,  will take a lot longer! (if ever!)

Here are some other things that might help....
1. Continue to eat clean.
 Don't say this is a throw away time and you'll start eating clean on New Years!
It's really important during this time to continue to eat a clean meal of carbs/protein/little fat every 3 hours. click here to read my blog about clean eating  This way you will not be tempted to overeat and it will give you the will power to refuse foods you weren't planning to eat.

2. Pack Snacks
     If you will be out shopping and running around, make sure you pack some snacks that have whole grains and protein to take with you. Click here to read my blog about taking food with you on the go!

 3. Don't worry about insulting someone.
 Don't feel pressured to eat when you stop by your friends house for a quick hello. If they offer you something to eat, politely decline and refocus on catching up. If you think they feel badly, just say that although it looks wonderful, you just ate and couldn't eat another bite.

4. Don't waste calories on alcoholic beverages.
   A lot of mixed drinks have a ton of calories, so drink water instead.  If you find that you really want to have a drink, have a small glass of wine. Also, alcohol decreases our will power. So the more we drink the more we tend to eat. Save your calories for the good stuff!

5. Don't linger in the kitchen during parties!
   It is very tempting to eat extra samplings before and after a meal when you are hanging out in the kitchen. So unless you are doing all the cooking, stay out of the kitchen  and mingle with all of the guests. Maybe start everyone dancing and burn some calories before dinner!

6.  Remember Portion Control
 I am not one that believes you should make everything low fat for the holidays! I have seen a lot of articles telling you how to have a "clean" Thanksgiving.  I figure, what's the point, right?
 I think that you should be able to eat Grandmas pumpkin pie recipe the way it was intended to be eaten. However, don't eat half of the pie!  Don't eat half a plate of turkey!  You have to be very mindful of your portion sizes. During Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, portion control everything you are eating. Have a small scoop of potatoes, have a small slice of pie and really enjoy it. Pick and choose what your favorites are. Skip the foods you can live without like the green bean casserole (oh I'm sorry is that your favorite? !) and use the calories for the good stuff.

7, Skip "filler foods" that you can have anytime.
   Foods like creamy salad dressing, buttered bread, chips and dip, are foods that usually don't have any special meaning. They are just filler foods. Filling the time between your arrival and the main meal. So skip the filler foods and save your calories for the special treats that represent the holidays to you. If you feel like eating something while you wait, make a veggie platter with a onion dip using fat free Greek yogurt. It tastes just like sour cream!

8. Schedule fun activities that revolve around moving instead of eating
  If you are getting together with some friends, instead of going to a coffee shop, go to the gym together.  If you are going to the mall, make it a workout!  Wear your sneakers and leave your coat in the car. Make a game of it,  power walk around the level you're on 5 times before being allowed to go into a store. When you come out,  power walk again, 5 times around, before going into another one. You'll get a great workout and get Christmas presents at the same time!
      Family fun....
     Go ice skating, rake leaves (and then jump in them!) or just go for a walk as a family! Try to make "moving" fun by doing it with people you love! Start a new tradition, create your own "Turkey Trot" and take a jog with your kids before you have dinner. This is something you can actually coordinate with other families in your area. Although you aren't all eating together, taking a jog as a whole group is super fun!

9. Eat before you go to an event  or bring something that you can eat and share.
   If you are famished when you go to a party, you will end up over eating and eating all of the wrong things. So eat a meal before you go so that you will have the willpower to say no and instead you will be able to enjoy the great conversation. If you want to eat something there, but you know that the food will not be "clean", bring something that you can eat and make enough that you can share.

10. Make your goal maintaining,  not losing weight.
  This is a very stressful time of year, and adding the pressure of losing weight over the holidays can set you up for failure. A better goal (although this can be difficult too) is to maintain your weight and not gain any. It is unrealistic and undesirable to say you are not going to eat anything fattening over the next 6 weeks. So make your goal maintenance by trying to find a balance between splurging and sliding.

  Remember, the holidays are a time to enjoy yourself and although everyone always says that it is about being with your family and friends not the food you eat, I totally understand (and agree) that it is also about baking with your kids and cooking family favorites and eating yummy foods with the ones you love!  
So, choose, move and refuse, and  you will be able to enjoy all your favorites (in moderation) and not gain weight during the holiday season!

Do you have any favorite holiday treats you have to have?
Do you have any strategies for staying on track during the holiday season?
Which events are you going to splurge at and which will you be good for? I'd love to hear!


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