Keeping those extra pounds from piling on during the run-up from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. To help you train your body and brain to beat the holiday bulge, keep these tips in mind. Your mission: to welcome the New Year feeling fit, healthy and with a little effort, at the same weight as you were before Thanksgiving. Here’s where to start:
1.) Blend up a brilliant breakfast.
Start your day with a healthy smoothie. All that good protein, good fat and essential phytonutrients first thing in the morning will set a healthy tone for the day, help keep you filled up ‘till lunchtime and cut cravings for sugary treats and junk food. Smoothies are so simple and quick to make, they’re my go-to breakfast everyday – not just during the holidays! And click here for 9 more delicious vegetarian protein smoothie recipes.
2.) Exercise in the morning…or at lunchtime, before the day gets away from you. Thinking you’ll get to the gym before an evening party or afterwards is a recipe for failure, not to mention guilt and potential weight gain. Bottom line: “Git ‘er done,” as the saying goes. Go early in the day and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment for the rest of it. Don’t let a little thing like the holidays knock you off your game. And to get more bang for your buck in a shorter time, try Interval Training.
3.) Keep a green drink on your desk.
And sip it all day long. Not only will the green drink’s phytonutrients support your health during what can be a stressful time of the year, but it will also serve as a green beacon of health on your desk, reminding you to make healthy choices all day long. With a nutritious breakfast, lunch and green drink under your belt by day, you’ll help insure that your nutritional needs are being met, even if you don’t always eat perfectly on party nights.
4.) Eat before you party.
Holiday party schedules can play havoc with mealtimes, but you can stay on course if you have a healthy meal before heading out for the night. By eating first, you’ll be less likely to try to make a meal of calorie-laden, not-particularly-filling, rarely healthy party snacks. The reality is, if you don’t eat first, you’ll probably find yourself foraging for a not-very-healthy take-out diner dinner at 9 pm – which won’t do great things for your waistline and interfere with your body’s ability to get a good night’s rest.
5.) Cocktails do count.
Alcoholic beverages tend to calm party jitters and make everyone more convivial – and for most of us, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink. The trouble starts when one drink leads to three and keeps going. Inhibitions fall by the wayside, dietary awareness slips and before you know it you’re over-eating and over-drinking. And with alcohol, you’re ingesting the emptiest of calories: lots of nutrition-free carbs your body has no use for that also high-jack your metabolism to burn them off first, and tends to send everything else you eat along with them, straight into fat storage. So remember, if you’re trying to keep your weight in check yet still plan to drink during the holidays, keep alcohol to a minimum and give those festive cocktails — particularly sugary mixed drinks — a wide berth.
6.) Small nibbles can be big trouble.
To help keep your diet on track, steer clear of hot hors d’oeuvres, because most of those little pop-in-your mouth treats are the devil in disguise! Loaded with cheap ingredients, genetically modified grains, chemicals and preservatives, typical party nibbles, such as mini-quiches, brie bites, cocktail weenies and spanakopitas, are an awful lot of processed food trouble rolled into small, not very filling packages. Unless you know your hosts are health-conscious cooks who make their cocktail foods from scratch using healthy ingredients, chances are the nutritional value of most party nibbles will fall short. My advice: go heavy on the crudities and skip the hot hors d’oeuvres.
7.) Fill up on good stuff, not goodies. When party time rolls around, regardless of whether you’ve eaten or not, if the munchies have got you in their grip, bypass the more traditionally tempting foods and lean heavily on healthy vegetables and salads. They’ll help will fill you up, keep your mouth busy and reduce the temptation to over-indulge on junky stuff. Once you’ve filled up on veggies and salad, sure, go ahead, have a taste of a holiday treat – just don’t over-indulge. Split the treat with a friend or take half as much as you’re craving. Remember, when it comes to treats, diminishing returns come into play. Granted those first few bites may be yummy but the last few bites are rarely as sublime – so quit while you’re ahead.
8.) Oops, I didn’t just fall off the wagon – it was a swan-dive. We’re all human and sometimes, particularly at this time of the year, we blow off a bit of steam and overindulge. The important thing is that the next day, you get back on the wagon. Don’t beat yourself up about it over-doing it or use one wild night as a license to tear up the town from now till New Year’s Day. Remember, it’s a bump in the road, not a sinkhole. Get back to the gym tomorrow, hit the treadmill and keep yourself on the healthier holiday path.