Here we go again, Thanksgiving is on our doorstep (2 days to go yaay!), everybody will be talking roast turkey, cranberry sauce and of course pumpkin pie among others.
In my last blog I discussed why you may be at risk of gaining weight during the amazing holiday season of the year, today I will help you create your strategy to prevent that from happening.
Remember, how you feel in the first days of January? Wouldn’t it be good to find a way of eating everything you like but avoid undoing all the hard work you have put into your fitness in 2017? Here are 11 tips to stay on top of your fitness and still have fun and be merry!
1. Don’t Give in to FOMO
Most of the foods promoted this time of the year can be available for you any time if you really want it, including Halloween candy, festive dishes and so on. Blaming your poor choices on ‘I won’t be able to eat or drink this for another 10 months!’ is just an excuse.
So, go ahead, enjoy your favorites but stay sensible and remind yourself this won’ be the LAST time you can have them. Keep your mind at bay and avoid overeating. You can even have a list of the MUST HAVES and include them into your meal planning, so you know in advance that you won’t be missing out.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
It takes your body about 20 minutes to realize you have eaten and send signals to your brain that you’re full. Unfortunately, when you are on a binge, you can inhale masses amount of food within that time. Then the shock comes halfway through your meal when you feel like you have swallowed three massive bricks.
Make sure you eat slowly. Listen to your body and you should stop eating just before you feel full. An easy trick to slow down is to keep chatting during dinner so your mouth is in use.
3. Practice Portion Control
Use a smaller plate and pick from everything you have available. Make sure you start with protein and vegetables to fill up the plate, then take some of the carbs and fats and cranberry sauce. 😉
On non-holiday days in the season eat like you normally would, focusing on balance and portion sizes suitable for your goals.
4. Keep Protein Intake at a Decent Level
Festive foods are filled with fat and carbohydrates, it’s very easy to forget about the building blocks of our body: PROTEIN. Make a conscious decision to include high-protein foods into each of your meals. It will not only help to maintain your muscles and aid recovery, but it also helps to manage hunger and prevent cravings.
5. Bring a Healthy Dish to Share
That’s right. When you’re invited to a party where everybody contributes to the menu, pick a healthy recipe that’s also tasty and show that you care about everybody’s wellbeing. It will also ensure you have at least ONE healthy choice.
6. Give Away Leftovers
Are you hosting family gatherings this year? There is a high risk of ending up with all the leftovers from the menu sitting in your fridge for days after. The best way to prevent falling for the temptation is to not have them at all. Before your guests are leaving, ensure everybody takes something they like.
If you still have plenty, contact a shelter or an organization that provides cooked food for homeless people or foster homes and offer that they can have it. You don’t only save yourself from hundreds of extra calories but help others experience the festive spirit. Win Win.
7. Skip Seconds
I suggest before taking a plate, walk around and check what the choices are and decide what you want. Then take a plate and pick from those foods as much as fits on the plate without building a mountain. This way you can have anything you like in a reasonable amount so you don’t need to get seconds.
8. Limit Liquid Calories
This should be a no brainer but unfortunately, it’s easy to forget how many calories certain drinks can contain in the heat of celebrations. Creamy pumpkin spiced hot drinks, hot alcoholic beverages, sugary cocktails and sodas will all count and add empty calories to your daily intake. Set yourself realistic goals and switch to water or green tea when you've reached them.
9. Plan Ahead
If you know in advance that a busy weekend filled with parties and meals out are coming, put your planning hat on and figure out how you can get through it without overeating. Can you find out what the menu will be to make a choice in advance? Or eat before you head out so you have already nourished your body and by not feeling hungry you will be able to control your eyes...err hands...from reaching for those temptations.
10. Stay Active
There is no reason you should ditch exercise completely this time of the year. Your body needs movement and needs it regularly. You can drop few gym sessions, but you should find fun ways to stay active.
The best way is to get your friends and family involved. Go for a nice walk together, try ice skating or play a game in the park. Whatever works for you, but keep your body moving.
Sleep is very important for recovery, I am sure you know that already. With your schedule being shaken up, taking on too many commitments in a short space of time and stressing about meeting everybody’s expectations your hormones can get out of whack. That can affect your sleep too.
Stick to 7-8 hours of sleep each night and where possible it is ok to take a nap in the afternoon. Napping is not just for kids! This will help your body to deal with all the stress more efficiently.
We all are different and potentially face different challenges around the holidays. Apply some or all of the tips above and you will come out of it feeling better about yourself, rested and not having put on pounds of fat. Happy Thanksgiving!
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.