Weight-wise, the holidays can pack a powerful punch. The amount may vary according to the study, but it’s a fact: the average American gains weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, as much as seven to ten pounds. This is horrible news to someone like me, who is not only trying to maintain a loss, but hoping to ring in 2014 a couple pounds lighter.
Following are twelve strategies that I’ve used – some more successfully than others, I might add – to lose weight the past few years. I’ve modified them a bit for the holiday season, and share them with you in hopes that you find one or two that help you during this scrumptious season.
- Plan and Prepare: Plan around holiday socials and celebrations. If your office is doing a potluck for lunch, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and plan a lighter dinner. It’s especially important to prepare and pack healthy snacks and meals when you can to counteract times when you can’t.
- Eat to Savor, Not to Stuff: Eat holiday favorites mindfully. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday foods you love, but eating them slowly while tasting and enjoying every bite. Practice the three-bite rule to keep your cravings in check. You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite.
- Relish the Experience: Food is such a big part of holiday celebrations, but it’s not the only thing. Enjoy your time with friends and family. Bring a board game. Start a new, non-food related holiday tradition.
- Think Before You Drink: Did you know that a 20-oz. eggnog latte has 620 calories? Punch, hot cider and eggnog can be high in calories, too. If these beverages are an important part of your celebration, enjoy them in moderation; make water your standard drink of choice.
- Back Off the Booze: Cocktails, beer and wine not only have a high calorie count, but having too many can loosen your resolve and lead to overeating. If you indulge, drink slowly and drink plenty of water before and after.
- Keep a Healthy Arsenal: During the holiday, our offices are full of food. It’s hard to say no. To avoid temptation, bring a small bag of almonds or a container of Greek yogurt to work.
- Move It: Increasing your physical activity level during the holidays is the most straightforward and effective weight control strategy, according to the Calorie Control Council. If you already exercise, turn it up a notch during the holidays. Don’t exercise? Start. Even daily walks will help.
- Eat Before You Go: Never go to a celebration or big meal hungry. Drink a couple of glasses of water and eat some fruit or raw veggies before heading out. If you aren’t ravenous when you arrive, chances are you won’t inflict as much damage when you hit the buffet table
- Bring Your Own Healthy: You may not be able to control every menu, but you can bring a healthy dish to share. That way, you know there’s at least one thing you can enjoy guilt-free. Your hostess will always be grateful for another dish, and no one has to be any the wiser.
- Pace Yourself: It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full. Set your fork down between bites, chew your food thoroughly and sip some water. Enjoy the company of the people around you at the party. Getting caught up in conversation is a great way to avoid overeating.
- Let It Go: If you do overindulge, let it go. Recent brain research shows that beating yourself up for a “slip” in healthy habit sets the stage for a full tumble off the wagon. Instead, focus on what you did right, and compliment yourself. Return to healthy eating habits the next meal instead of blowing the rest of the day with the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse.
- Go to Bed on Time: Sleep routines sometimes go haywire over the holidays. But recent research ties weight loss to keeping a regular sleep schedule, showing that those who go to sleep and wake up at regular hours have lower body fat than those who don’t.
Do you have a strategy to stay on a healthy track in the face of holiday temptation? Please share in the comments below so others can benefit. Here’s wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!