The holiday season is upon us! With that comes great food, lots of cheer(wine), shopping, and lets face it, STRESS! I thought now would be a good time to talk about how to avoid holiday weight gain, the guilt over holiday weight gain, and illness that often comes from too much stress and lack of sleep. Why do I specify these three things? Because I’ve had all three in the past, and have vowed not to let it happen again.
The main reasons people gain weight over the holiday is overeating, excess alcohol, and lack of exercise. I’m sure there are other reasons, but I find these to be the main culprits. I’ll use myself as an example. I usually go home for the holidays (Christmas) where my Italian mom is not happy if you aren’t eating. There’s an abundance of cookies, cake, homemade bread, candy…..then there’s the homemade lasagna, bread dipped in olive oil, and endless wine…..you get the picture. Look, I enjoy eating healthy….but all my willpower and healthy food choices go out the door with all that temptation in front of me. I used to say “It’s once a year…I’m never home…I never eat like this.” To top it all off, when I’m at my parents… I’m not working, not running around doing errands or cleaning. ….. I’m relaxing and I was more sedentary. I don’t think about food like that that anymore(see tip #6 &7)and, although I’m more relaxed, and spending more time with family, I always find the time to exercise on my own and with the kids(playing outside).
In years past, I ALWAYS got sick around the holidays. I’m a Type A personality……I’m not happy if I’m not busy. I wake up early and go to bed too late. When I’m in bed, I’m thinking about what I need to do or planning my next bootcamp class. It’s hard for me to relax, unless I’m on vacation in a remote location!! I got sick in years past, b/c I didn’t recognize my personality type and kept pushing on without taking care of myself. It’s all about finding a balance and making choices. If you asked my husband, he’d tell you i’m not balanced and that I work too hard….BUT- I know longer get sick around the holidays and I no longer gain the excess weight and no longer have guilt over eating my mom’s lasagna.
Here are my tips for having a happy, healthy holiday!
1. Start shopping now! Try to accomplish at least one holiday task a day. Don’t wait until the week before and try to get it all done. You will literally make yourself sick and won’t get the sleep you desperately need.
2. Choose a healthy edible gift for neighbors and friends. Instead of baking cookies and bread that you know you will nibble on, try making a spice rub, marinade, or homemade jam.
3. Eat a healthy snack before going to a party! Have a yogurt, piece of turkey, apple with peanut butter. This will help you avoid heading straight to the food table when you arrive and will also decrease the chance of overeating.
4. Create time for exercise…don’t fit it in. Continue with your regular exercise schedule….get up early and get it done. You will feel so much better during the day. You will have more energy and less stress…guaranteed!
5. Avoid the food court in the mall. I just saw a clip on the news that really grossed me out….unsanitary food court booths….not to mention that most choices available area high in fat and calories. I always keep healthy snacks in the car(almonds, beef jerky, fruit) to tie me over until I get home. I always plan what I’m going to eat for the day, and have a snack before running my errands to avoid making an unhealthy choice at the food court or drive thru.
6. Get enough sleep! I know I said earlier, I wake up early and go to bed too late ….BUT, espcially around the h olidays, I make every effort to go to bed by 10 Mon-Thurs. If I don’t, I pay for it, my husband and kids pay for it, I get sick and I’m not prductive. I know this about myself and make every effort to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Know yourself…know how much sleep you need to be happy and productive, and stick to it
6. Around the holidays, I allow myself to eat yummy “holiday food.” It’s not the food that will make you gain, it’s the portion of food you consume. I like pizza and I eat it, but I stick to one or two pieces. I love my mom’s lasagne, – but i eat it slowly and stop before I’m stuffed. If I eat athe lasagne, I dont’ eat the cake and cookies after. It’s all about choices and feeling good! I dont feel good when I eat lasagne, bread, cake and wine.
7. Think of food in terms of fueling and nurishing your body, not as a void to mindlessly fill. You only get one body…take care of it and give it the nutrition it needs to last.
7. Exercise- yes I’m repeating #4. It’s that important! It reduces stress, helps you sleep better, makes you lean and stronger and gives you more energy throughout the day! Why wouldn’t you exercise for 30-45 min to gain these benefits?
Follow these additional suggestions given to me from class participants!
*Chew gum whild cooking or shopping! The mint deters you from putting something else in your mouth!
*Carry a healthy snack and h2o in your purse while shopping and you won’t be tempted to eat junk food from the mall.
*Continue to eat regularly throughout the day. Don’t starve yourself before the big Thanksgiving meal and you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving….we all have many things to be thankful for! I thank you for your continued commiment to exercise and for your positive attitudes and willingness to work hard! I look forward to seeing each of you throughout the holiday season!