Ah...the holidays. Beautiful trees, spending time with loved ones, and going to Christmas church service...and hoping that those extra scoops of holiday food goodness somehow magically disappeared with Santa on his sleigh instead of taking up residence on your backside for the long winter. Since the season of eating begins tomorrow, I think it's best I revisit last year's article on maintaining your weight through the holiday season. My least favorite diet tip that aaaaall the magazines like to put out there is still the one about eating your dinner before you go to a party so you don't eat while you're at the party. Um, news flash...I don't have to be hungry to eat a cookie or drink a pint of egg nog. It's like jello...there's always room. Plus, who wants to be the person who deprives themselves of all Christmas treats? Um, not this Posh Purpose girl. So! Here we go! Most of these tips are about planning and making minor changes to make up for a few extra calories here and there:
Posh Purpose's Kindly Suggestions on How to Still Fit in Your Pants Come January
1. Religious calorie counting on days you don't have parties/events - 1600 calories* and no more (I use an Android app called Fat Secret...horrible name, but decent app). Weigh in daily to keep yourself honest.
2. Eat something healthy before a party - soup and salad if you have time or yogurt and nuts are both good options. Although I don't believe in eating before you go to a party in order to not eat at the party is a good idea, I also don't think I want to have my blood sugar drop and find myself face first in a cheese platter either. Been there, done that. Also, your tummy and waistline will thank you if you go to a corporate with nothing but dried out chicken and greasy (but tasteless) sides. Those items just aren't worth the calories, but you would probably devour them if you went on an empty stomach.
3. Eat 3-4 small servings of things you truly want to eat at the party - things that are special for Christmas time or you know are a specialty of the hosts....then don't eat them again at any other parties. For example, I love egg nog, rum balls, and peppermint bark. I could have a small cup of egg nog, 2-3 rum balls, and a piece of peppermint bark at a party. At the next party, I would bypass these items and perhaps choose a scoop of hot crab dip, a small cup of apple cider, and a slice of pie. Then bypass all of those items at any other parties. Fill up on veggies and lean protein for the rest of your food selection. Cold shrimp is a very good choice that you will often find this time of year. My theory on this tip is that I will get to have all my favorite things without overloading my plate at each and every party.
4. Cut back on your everyday treats - ex. if you are putting half and half in your coffee, switch to 2% for the next month.
5. Eat seafood at corporate events - My nutritionist once said that if you have to go into an event blind or without any ability to customize your food, go for fish. Even if the fish is deep fried or sauteed in butter, the calorie count for fish starting out is lower than any of the other proteins.
6. Stick to wine or hard cider - Lots of taste, less calories than a mixed drink, classier than a shot, and no fat.
7. Plan out where you can eat when you are running errands or Christmas shopping now - For me, I know the meal combinations I can have at Chick-Fil-A (grilled chicken nuggets and small fry or spicy chicken sandwich - no bun - and small fry) and Panera Bread (bacon turkey bravo half sandwich and half salad or bowl of soup) which are readily accessible. Other options for a sit down meal, are Olive Garden (soup, salad, and bread sticks) and Seasons 52 (no item on the menu is over 475 calories). I would suggest looking at your local area where you plan on doing the most shopping and coming up with a game plan. My nutritionist told me successful dieters have plans and people tend to gain weight the most when they are rushed for time and don't have a plan set in place. That's how you wind up pulling through the Taco Bell line and ordering a burrito and two tacos with extra nacho sauce. This goes the same for traveling! Have a plan of where you can stop on the road or in the airport. Bring snacks with you so you aren't tempted!
8. Add on 15 mins to your work out time or another workout a week. This one can be super hard! If you can't add it to your work out or you have no extra days for a workout, try to go for a walk at lunch during your work days. Also, try and have a nice walk (so relaxing!) or jog (if you feel so inclined, I rarely do) on the major holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. It will help you digest post-meal and it's a nice way to either spend time with family or get away from them (depending on your situation). I'm going to try to hit up zumba tomorrow morning right after the turkey goes in the oven! I'd also like to add in a post-church zumba class or a spin class on Sundays.
9. Take none and leave all - If you are having a party or hosting Christmas dinner, stock up on to-go containers. If it's not healthy, it must go. If you are attending a party, refuse to take anything. You can "accidentally" leave it behind. Whoopsies.
10. Plan a non-meal event for your girlfriend get togethers - I suggest coffee. You can get a small drink (latte with cinnamon on top - caffeine & protein!) and if you can't stay away from the bakery case, split something with your friends. You'll save money and calories. More active options would be to go bowling or ice skating.
11. Eat what you want on the main days - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. Chances are you probably won't be eating more than one big meal each of those days. Even if you are eating 2,500 calories, you are doing it all at once and not three times that day. You should also be able to rebound from 1-3 days of poor eating spread out over several weeks....it's the week long time frame of Thanksgiving and in between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day that I've noticed really make an impact. I also don't see the point in eating low-cal versions of traditional foods - pumpkin pie with splenda is just not the same and cranberries flavored with agave sounds nasty. If you must exercise some sort of self control or you are attending multiple meals in one day - fill up on whatever main protein there is (ham, turkey, etc.) and the healthiest side (usually green beans). You can have one small scoop each of all your favorite things and only eat the best offerings at each meal if you are going to multiple places (i.e. if your Aunt Gertrude's sweet potatoes are better than your granny's...don't tell, but don't eat either).
12. Get back to your regular groove as soon as possible and don't beat yourself up - You may still gain 1-3 lbs between now and the New Year...but that's much less to beat myself up about and far fewer pounds to work off compared to the 20 billion people who join the gym and take all the parking spots/machines post-holiday 15 lb. binge. I'll just go back to my regular schedule - I hope without having to buy new pants.
If you've got any other tips, let me know! I'm always open to suggestions.
* I'm not a licensed professional, so you should consult your doctor before starting any nutrition plan or exercise program.