We shared some great expert tips here last week on avoiding holiday weight gain. Kelly Turner shared tips last week over on Fit Bottomed Girls that I thought I’d be silly not to share here. So buckle up and read on for some holiday help on staying motivated and coming out on the other side in January!
This is it, ladies. Get ready. We are entering five-alarm, high-alert, all-hands-on-deck weight-gain season. Buckle up, because just like every year, it’s going to be a rough ride.
You are about to be bombarded with temptation after yummy temptation, designed to test your willpower, your resolve and the waistband of your favorite jeans. You won’t be safe anywhere: not at work, with friends, not even in your own home. Even your family cannot be trusted.
You can, however, come out of the holiday season and enter the New Year healthier and happier than ever. You, yes, you, can say no to food pushers and just-one-won’t-hurters with poise and grace. You, YOU!, can keep a consistent exercise routine even when the winter blues and holiday stress threaten to keep you sedentary. How, you ask? How do you develop this impenetrable barrier that junk food and laziness cannot penetrate? By arming yourself with an escape plan, an eject button or an effective stiff arm. On second thought, don’t do that. Grandma means well with her famous sweet potato pie; you don’t need to lay her out. Just pack a few of these tips away in your arsenal to use when the time is right and protect yourself from enemies threatening to fill your bowl full of jelly!
17 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1. Learn to say no. You don’t have to go to every single party. Prioritize to avoid overextending yourself and to cut down on those “special occasions” we use as excuses to splurge. Which reminds me…
2. Remember that the holidays are the special occasions where you can treat yourself. The entire holiday season, which lasts months, isn’t a free pass.
3. Remember to breathe. It’s the holidays—it’s supposed to be a FUN time. Stress and anxiety are just as much hazards to your health as skipping a workout, so take time yourself to destress. Read a book, take a yoga class or soak in a bubble bath; do whatever soothes your soul.
4. Get plenty of sleep. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep every night. It may sound impossible, but your metabolism, your energy level and your loved ones will thank you.
5. “Treat” others like you would want to be “treated.” You have to give everyone and their brother a gift: your hair stylist, the host of every party you attend, your boss, babysitter, etc. and the easiest and cheapest thing is a plate of cookies or breads. Stop the vicious cycle: you don’t want cookies, so why give them to someone else? Set an example by making something healthy, but still delicious, like seasoned nuts or homemade granola. Not only are you keeping the crap out of your house, lessening your chances of munching on a few, but you’ll also show those closest to you that you care about their health, too.
6. When you do arrive at a holiday party, take a second to survey the scene and see what your options are. Look for things like raw veggies, fruit platters, cheese, nuts and lean meat. Stay away from creamy dressings, dips, fried foods and sweets. Pick one or two more indulgent things you will give yourself permission to enjoy—after you finish your veggies, of course.
7. Regift tins of cookies, brownies and candies. When you get a generic tin of cookies or the much-feared fruit cake from the dear old lady down the street, say thank you, then give them to your mailman. Or the lady that cuts your dog’s toenails. It’s not rude; it’s being frugal, and they probably regifted them to you in the first place.
8. Bring your own healthy dish to every party/potluck/random excuse to eat and drink you get invited to. Not only do you look like a saint for helping out the host, but more importantly, no matter what is on the menu, you know you will have access to a healthy, low-calorie meal you can feel good about.
9. Claim allergies. The easiest way to shoo away unwanted treats from an acquaintance or someone you will never see again is to claim you are allergic. You don’t even have to think up something you are specifically allergic to—”No thanks, I’m allergic,” is all you need to say.
10. Have a safety cocktail for parties. Pick a go-to low calorie drink to allow you to enjoy the party without swilling thousands of unneeded calories. Wine and clear liquors with low-calorie mixers are a good option. If you like beer, go for the light stuff. The simpler the drink, the lighter it is.
11. Stay balanced. Don’t fall into the cycle of gorging then restricting. Eat the same meals and small snacks you always do, especially breakfast. Adjust for heavier meals by paring down the next ones, but don’t skip them completely. It’s a recipe for weight gain, causing you to overeat while stalling your metabolism.
12. Ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” If it’s your aunt’s famous Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, then yes, it might be. But if it’s half of a decapitated gingerbread man you found in the break room, the answer is no.
13. Make your holiday traditions active ones. Play a game of touch football before Thanksgiving dinner. Hike out in to the woods to chop down your own Christmas tree. Spend an afternoon walking through your neighborhood to sing carols to your neighbors. Invite your whole family to play a game called “shoveling snow.” Your kids will love it.
14. Work out in the morning. With everyone out of school, off work, visiting and traveling, your days are going to be unpredictable. Working out in the morning ensures it gets done, plus you’ll have more energy to dominate those Black Friday crowds.
15. Kick up the exercise. Even if you aren’t TOO concerned with significant holiday weight gain, you know you are definitely going to indulge more around this time of year, so step it up a notch. Do an extra 10 minutes, one mile or add a day to your workout schedule to keep everything in check.
16. Take advantage of holiday workout deals. With much of the year’s weight gain happening over the holidays and everyone’s New Year’s Resolution being to lose weight, gyms and studios offer screaming deals on workouts. Take this time to try something new—a Spin class, a barre class or Zumba—and bring a friend to give them the gift of fitness.
17. Don’t put your fitness goals on hold. If you are working toward a goal, like training for a race or to lose a certain amount of weight per month, don’t put those goals on the back burner until the holiday season is over. Having something to focus on will keep you on track instead of letting you fall into the free-for-all of not exercising and eating whatever you can fit into your mouth that most fall victim to. Maintain your training schedule, hold yourself accountable to lose the same amount of weight you would no matter what the calendar says and never slack off. The holidays aren’t a timeout.
Do you have a hard time maintaining your weight over the holidays? What tips do you have for keeping yourself on track? —Kelly