Who can deny you when you say, “I can’t get to the gym because we’re stringing popcorn tonight in front of the fireplace,”
“I need to skip Zumba so I have time to donate my time to feed the hungry,” or
“I can’t say no to Aunt ‘Baby Face’ Agatha’s lasagna or she’ll put out a hit on me.”
“But the holidays are all about food!” you cry! And you’re absolutely right.
In fact, the countdown to the holidays can be measured in food increments. We all know “turkey day,” even if we’re tired of hearing it. Then the procession of fruitcakes begins to arrive, re-gifted from the same people we sent them to last year, only a little moldier and a lot boozier (the cakes, not the gifters, although that may also be true).
Co-workers bring in boxes of chocolates the size of a small child. “Happy holidays! And don’t tell me you’re on a diet, just get back on track after New Year,” they announce, tossing bags of candy canes, chocolate covered cherries and homemade cookies on your desk like a rap artist making it rain at a strip club.
Not to mention holiday buffets, complete with open bar.
Here’s the thing about buffets: Every bite of something different is a new taste celebration. We’re more likely to overindulge when we eat a variety of foods than sticking with just one or two.
It’s like 50 Shades of Calories for your tastebuds.
Think of a single bowl of shrimp with maybe two choices of dips. How soon would you stop eating? Maybe two servings and you’re done.
Now imagine endless bowls of shrimp, crab, fried chicken tidbits, bacon wrapped things (who cares what, as long as it’s in bacon), mini quiches, creamy salads, and cheesecake, cranberry bread and Christmas cookies as far as the eye can see.
Would you ever stop eating? Likely not. At least not until the host calls the police when they find you facedown in the spinach dip the next morning.
Studies show the average person gains only a pound over the holidays. I beg to differ. I’m convinced that study was done on mice. Everyone knows mice make lousy cooks, so no one eats much at a mouse buffet.
In actuality, after a season of eggnog, French toast and double-chocolate hot cocoa with marshmallows, trying on pants you wore last October may seem as distant a memory as attempting to fit into your high school cheerleading outfit.
So why not take a proactive approach to holiday eating before you end up searching the Internet for “seatbelt extenders”?
Keep these tips in mind…
1. Focus on weight maintenance, not weight loss. The latter may be too unrealistic this time of year. Go easy and use common sense. If you eat more at one meal cut back on another. Get in extra exercise when you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you overdo it, just get back on track the next day.
2. Indulge only in foods you really love. Don’t just eat for the sake of celebrating. For example, I love eggnog, but I skip cookies and sweets I don’t enjoy as much. Be judicious with your choices.
3. Eat something before you leave the house. If you go to a party starving you’ll more than make up for the calories you “saved” by skipping breakfast and lunch.
4. Go easy on alcohol (yes I know, call me Mrs. Buzz Kill). Wine and booze not only add up to lots of calories quickly, but alcohol slows your metabolism by a 33%. I’m no math whiz, but that’s a lot. And, of course, inhibitions run wild. Far worse than dancing naked at the office Christmas party, eating your body weight in snickerdoodles doesn’t fit most weight loss plans.
5. Get in extra activity wherever you can. If you’re away from home or can’t carve out time for your usual routine, do a modified version of it. Cut back on the time but kick up the intensity and you’ll maintain your fitness level. Or go for a walk after dinner or pick up the pace when shopping at the mall. It all adds up to calories burned.
(Also check out: A Total Body Home Workout — No Equipment Needed)
How will you stay on track this holiday season? Any tips or tricks that work well for you? Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
Need more motivation? Don’t wait until January! Check out for my Kick In the Pants plan (click the link for details!), where I help you pinpoint your personal fitness and dietary obstacles and together we find ways to overcome them.
“I was at a plateau and nothing seemed to work. Linda reviewed my diet and exercise plan and recommended a bunch of very actionable steps I could take to kick things up a notch. They worked! Through her Kick In the Pants program I was able to lose 5 more pounds and, more importantly, I lost inches all over. Our follow-up calls kept me motivated and on track. Highly recommended!” — Mary Debity, 59
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