Just when you feel like you’re in a great workout groove, eating clean and getting decent sleep, BAM! The holidays arrive. With office parties, family gatherings, shopping trips and cookie-baking marathons ahead, how will you stick with your healthy-living plan? Before you throw in the towel and vow to restart after the season, consider these tips for staying focused while still enjoying the festivities.
Don’t skip your workouts
As tempting as it may be to put workouts on the back burner to accommodate a hectic holiday schedule, this is the last thing you want to do. Not only will your workouts help you to burn all those extra calories you may be eating, they’ll also reduce the stress this time of year brings. Exercising daily also helps with making better food choices throughout the day. If time allows, you may even want to add an extra 10 minutes of cardio exercise to further combat calorie overload.
The holidays can keep you super busy, running around all day without a break. Pack healthy snacks to prevent impulse splurges and to stay properly fueled. My top picks include protein bars, trail mix and ready-to-drink protein shakes. If you’ll be attending a party later in the day, eating healthy snacks early on can help prevent you from overeating. You can also plan ahead by bringing along a favorite healthy appetizer or side dish to share.
Everything in moderation
Allow yourself some of your favorite treats this time of year. Know that it’s OK to indulge – in moderation – and don’t beat yourself up about it. Splurging on occasion will not destroy your weight-loss efforts! Just choose your splurges carefully. If you don’t love something, don’t eat it. Save the calories for a dessert or dish that you really enjoy. You might also adjust for the higher-calorie intake by cutting back on something else on that day. Remember, balance is key!
It’s OK to say, “No!”
Facing decadent fare at holiday parties can be tough. With everyone eating and drinking, the pressure to say yes can feel overwhelming. However, don’t be embarrassed or feel like you have to apologize for wanting to stick to your eating plan. You don’t have to feel guilty about saying no thank you. Here’s a tip: fill your plate with healthy appetizers (veggies, nuts and fruit) so there isn’t room for anything else when offered.
When you first arrive to a dinner or holiday party, don’t head straight for the appetizers. Grab a water or sparkling drink and just observe. Give yourself time to mingle, browse the food choices, and then decide what you would like to have.
Often, when we think we’re hungry, we’re really just thirsty. It’s important to stay hydrated especially when you may be eating saltier foods and drinking alcohol. Swap coffee (which dehydrates) for holiday-spiced herbal tea, and be sure to drink water if you’ll be drinking alcohol. Squeeze in some extra hydrating coconut water during the day, as well.
Little additions to meals – gravies, sauces, creams, etc. – can quickly add up. If you feel like you can’t skip a topping, use just a tablespoon, or swap the item for something lighter. Eliminating or downsizing extras can make a big difference! And remember, the goal is to finish a meal feeling satisfied, not stuffed.