Christmas Holiday Season!
BY Keith Cormican
Christmas is almost here and the party season is upon us. It is a time to eat, drink and be merry! But what is you want to stay in reasonably good shape throughout the holiday period or have just started a fitness programme.
I have some tips and strategies for staying on track, or at least minimizing the effects of the indulgences at this time of year.
Firstly, remember that most holiday favourites – such as turkey, potatoes, sprouts and gravy are not necessarily bad for you. In fact, these foods are packed with nutrients. However, preparation and portion size make all the difference, as well as self-discipline.
Before The Christmas Rush.
It is a good idea to lose the mentality of dreading Christmas and New Year and it’s accompanying weight gain. You will be miserable and will not be a very jolly Santa! Remember that it is a time of year for celebration with family and friends – including parties, presents and your Nan’s home-made pie! Everywhere you look you will see studies saying you will gain ten pounds during the twelve days of Christmas and that it is an unavoidable by-product of the season. So if you don’t try to lose weight, but plan not to gain weight, it makes things a lot easier. In between the hustle and bustle of family gatherings and parties, make time to re-visit your goals, those you have accomplished and those ahead. Think about where you want to go and how you want to look.
During The Holidays.
Once you have decided to go into the holidays with the mindset to enjoy and succeed the next steps are to:
Plan early to counteract potential sources of stress which have been linked to emotional food cravings. Work out ways to simplify your celebrations. It may sound obvious, but whether it means turning down an invitation to your Aunt’s annual holiday open house, or changing the menu for the day, many people have more trouble saying ‘no’ than they are ready to admit.
Don’t Starve Before You Leave.
Have something to eat before you go out to a party – some mixed nuts or a yogurt and fruit are good options. It will be easier to focus on the socializing aspects of the evening if you are not starving when you arrive. Also you will be less likely to overeat!
Adjust Your Training Schedule.
If you normally exercise for half an hour, exercise for forty minutes on the lead up to Christmas. Exercise for an extra ten-fifteen minutes per day. Something as simple as an extra cardio session for fifteen minutes at the end of a resistance workout, helps increase your metabolism. You don’t have to go to a gym to get a workout. Can you remember your last snowball fight? How about a game of football in the garden with nephews and nieces? Exercise can be a family event and you don’t have to stick to your routine so long as you are doing some type of activity. A little added exposure to the sun, even during the winter months can also be a great mood lifter.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.
The candy cane is one of the best types of desserts to have as it is low in fat, it is sweet s and it takes ages to eat!
Manage Your Portion Size.
As for the rest of the year, it is never a good practice to stuff yourself in one sitting. In a buffet situation, first choose the healthier items, such as salads and lean meats, and sit down to enjoy these. For informal family gatherings, offer to bring a dish of your own too. That way you can control how the dish is prepared. If it is a roast, casserole or dessert, cut it into appropriate portions ahead of time. This makes it easier to control portion size.
Watch Those Carbohydrates!
Keep in mind that you will get plenty of carbohydrates throughout the holidays. So if you have a few mince pies or a piece of Christmas pudding, then it is a good idea to pass on the roast or mashed potatoes.
Make sure you are drinking at least ten glasses of water per day. Water flushes fats and salts from your body and helps you to feel full. Again, you will be less likely to overeat. It also helps to counteract the more damaging effects of alcohol, like dehydration.
This will not only give your brain enough time to realize that you are eating, but will also allow you to really enjoy your food by savouring each bite.
Keep It In Perspective.
Enjoy the holidays! Thinking of yourself as being ‘on or off’ a diet only leads to unnecessary stress. You might focus so intently on the food that you actually forget to enjoy the festivities. For example, if you have an extra mince pie, don’t freak out for the rest of the night. If you are worried about those extra calories, you will not be a very good party guest!
After The New Year.
When all the presents have been unwrapped, it is time the reassess. Now it is more important than ever to avoid that negative ‘diet’ mentality. So if your mum’s home-made sherry trifle or your grandmother’s legendary apple pie proved too tempting to resist, get right back on track and re-visit your goals daily. One of the healthiest New Year’s resolutions anyone can make is not to beat themselves up. Always question yourself if you are using language like ‘I’ve been bad’ or ‘I’ve fallen off the wagon’ because that doesn’t promote sticking with anything. Remember that health and fitness is about ongoing progress, not 100% perfection.