The holidays are upon us, and that means a few things; family, friends, feasts, and fear…the fear of unwanted weight gain and the feelings that go with it. Every year millions of Americans work hard during the year to get in shape, only to approach the holidays and have all their results erased within 6 weeks because of a smorgasbord of dinners and desserts. It does not have to be like that.
Luckily, unwanted weight gain is not something that has to happen and it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the indulgences and company of those you love (moderation, not elimination). It takes a few tricks and some conscious effort to help stave off the holiday season flub and keep your physical, and emotional, progress moving forward.
I am here to help you navigate that dinner spread and successfully conquer the dessert demons at your next family/work holiday function. Remember, you are in control, not your family friends or food, and you have the ability to not only avoid the holiday weight gain, but use the foods you eat in your favor. Let’s get started.
- Stay Active
You know in advance what parties or festivities you will be attending, so plan when you will get your workout in. This does not have to be your regular routine, but even a 20 minute workout each day will help keep your metabolic rate up and ready for the increase calories coming its way. Go for a short walk with a spouse, kid, family member after each meal, short bodyweight circuits in the living room (kids will join in), going for a run that alternates sprints with light jogs, jumping rope, or a short weight circuit in a hotel or globo gym. You do not need an hour, a fancy gym, or to even leave your house. Carve out 20 minutes a day, and stay in your workout routine.
- Limit drinking calories
Did you know a single glass of orange juice has 110 calories in it, 26 being carbs (sugar). For most, that’s between 9-13% their daily caloric intake. Juices, soda, teas, and alcohol can lead you to ingesting over 1200 calories, without ever filling up your stomach with the foods you need to deliver the macro and micronutrients your body needs to function properly. If you do indulge the alcoholic beverage, limit it to light beer and clear liquors with clear mixers. You can also try to only drink 1-2 alcoholic drinks at dinner, sipping slow and not gulping them down. For every alcoholic drink consumed, aim for 2 glass of water. Another tip is to have a water bottle or jug filled with water that you will drink out of between meals, so you are not consuming liquid calories while “grazing”.
- Keep track of what you eat
Most of us are too enamored with hosting family, reminiscing with family, and watching holiday parades and sports games that it is burdensome to track what you eat. What if I told you an easy way to track your food, and it requires no new equipment. Reach in your pocket, unlock your phone, and snap a photo, not of the dog silly, of your plate. An easy to track your intake is to simply snap a photo of the food you are eating, and evaluate the pictures throughout the day, to help see the holes in your macro intake as you go on. Have a picture of a plate of crackers and cheese after lunch? Your dinner plate should be higher in protein and lower in fats. Your photo album is your friend this holiday season, not just for family photos but for your nutritional survival.
- 3P method (Proper Plate Portioning)
Proper portioning of your plate is a vital nutrition technique, but is even more vital when excess calories are abundant. Aim to build your plate in a way that puts more emphasis on meats fats and greens and is filled in with carbohydrates. An example of this would be to grab some vegetables first, then turkey, followed by a side of starch (potatoes, bread, pasta, etc). With this plate portioning, size of portions come in to play. A good rule of thumb: For proteins, men should aim for two palm size portion size and women aim for one palm size portion. For carbohydrates, men should aim for two cupped hands and women for one cupped hand portion size, and for fats, men should aim for two thumb size portions and women one thumb size portion. Doing this quick glance each meal will help keep you in line with your regular body needs.
- Don’t Stress the small stuff
Stress can hinder digestion, which will lead to nutrient absorption and body dysfunction. Do not let what you are eating, or what you are eating, stress you out. This time of year is meant to be a time where you have fun with family and friends, so go ahead and have fun. What was laid out above is just some tips to help keep you on track with your progress, not an end all be all. So remember, be conscious of what you’re eating but don’t be obsessed. Have fun, stay active, and know your progress is not made or ruined in a day or week.
Have fun and snap that pic to post on instagram and facebook, hashtag your good times up, and enjoy this time off. Stay safe everyone!!