You exercised and ate right all spring and summer to get in shape and healthy. But, now the days are longer and darker and colder. The holiday season is approaching and it can be intimidating if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight.
The holidays do tend to mean “food”, and this holiday season lasts for several weeks, if not a couple months. More parties, more dinners, more get-togethers, more cookie swaps, more food gifts, more cocktails. This means constant temptation for a longer period of time. Add holiday stress and busier lifestyles which can lead to more hurried and less planned eating, more cocktails, and no time for the gym. All of these reasons make the holidays challenging time for weight loss or even weight maintenance. But, you can keep up your healthy diet and fitness program, you may even be able to lose weight during the holidays.
Stick with your plan. If you want to lose weight this month, here are some tips that will help:
Track your food. That means all of it, from the spoonful of cookie batter you ate while baking to the free sample of ham at the grocery store. These "hidden" calories are easy to gloss over but can really add up.
Plan your holiday meals. Plan your meals and snacks in advance so you can enjoy your favorites and still stay on track. Pre-track your food for the day before the party. Find places to cut back on calories in order to splurge a little more.
Make fitness a priority. The food is only one part of the equation. Fitness is just as important. If anything, you should be trying to work out more to curb weight gain and extra eating. Burn it (exercise) to earn it (extra holiday calories).
Schedule your workout like an appointment. Add your workouts to your calendar so that other obligations don't get in the way of your gym time. Limit alcohol. It lowers inhibitions, making it more likely that you'll forget about your nutrition plan and overindulge. Plus, alcohol alone is pretty high in calories. Party hop without drinking or nurse your drink slowly.
Re-gift treats and food. There are plenty of opportunities to re-gift food gifts. Bring them to parties, potlucks, and other get-togethers. Or, donate store-bought foods to a local food pantry or hospital. Take home-baked goods to a homeless shelter or, bring the food to work for everyone else to enjoy.
Add 10 extra minutes of cardio to your days. Adding just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise to your usual workout routine can counter the effects of a little extra holiday eating. Even if you can't fit it in all at once, try to do small amounts throughout the day. High-intensity moves like jumping jacks, high-knee running in place, or jumping rope all work.
Maintain your active lifestyle. The more activity you can add to your days (in addition to planned fitness) the better off you'll be. Try sledding, snowboarding, ice skating, hiking, snowshoeing, and more.
Keep an emergency snack on hand. Stashing some healthy and portable foods in your car, purse, and desk drawer can help satisfy your cravings and prevent you from going overboard on all the wrong foods.
Watch your portions. There's nothing wrong with enjoying once-a-year favorites if you keep your portions in check. A little taste is all you need.
Focus on people. At parties and gatherings, enjoy the good conversation and activities instead of hovering around the food table.
Drink water. When people drink more water, they end up eating less. Water and water-rich foods can help fill you up longer.
Wake up with exercise. People who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to exercise regularly than those who exercise later in the day. Morning workouts might be the best way to squeeze fitness into your days before other things come up.
Slow down. Savor your food and the experience of eating. You'll eat less, feel more satisfied, and recognize feelings of hunger.
Keep your eye on the prize. Before you take a bite or hit snooze instead of hitting the gym, remember your goals. It's going to take work to get there and survive the holiday season