Holiday Survival Guide Pt. 2
With just a week until Christmas and 2 weeks until the New Year, we are in the thick of holiday season!
Holiday work parties, Secret Santa get-togethers, friends baking for you, you baking for friends (...and for you), travel, the actual holidays themselves, the “holidays” after the holidays with a different group of family…
The next 14 days are going to be jam-packed with fun and memories, and they’re also going to be jam-packed with topsy turvy routines, seasonal treats, and indulgence. Unfortunately, those last 3 can be the perfect recipe for holiday weight gain.
But, not for you!
Just because you’re stepping away from your usual schedule and routine and enjoying some out-of-the-norm foods doesn’t mean you need to scream “YOLO” or “F*CK IT!” and go off the deep end for 14 days. Oh, no, no. Have your fun while keeping yourself on track by employing these 8 strategies!
1- Write things down
We tend to be more lax during this time of the year, and that’s fine, so long as we’re still present.
A handful of chocolate chips while baking cookies…
Two bites of the leftover pie your hubby is eating…
Nibbles of cookies every time you pass through the kitchen…
It all adds up.
Use the notes app in your phone to jot these things down as you’re doing them. Be honest about what you’re eating or picking at throughout the day and how much- it’s just for your eyes, no lying to yourself in your records!
At the end of the day, take a look at what you wrote down. Look at how it adds up (maybe guesstimate the total amount of calories that are added to your day) and look for opportunities to improve the next day! Be that a few less “little bites” of something or a healthier snack that you could swap in for a certain treat you’ve been going for every day- just being aware of your eating patterns can help you make more balanced, smart choices during this time of the year.
2- Watch your portions
Moderation not deprivation! Enjoy the rich, indulgent foods, but enjoy them within reason.
When snacking at parties, try small amounts of the fried or sweet options that your mouth is watering over, then load up on smarter choice snacks such as veggies, fruit, and appetizers with protein sources (I’m looking at you, shrimp cocktail and chicken skewers!).
When making your plates during holiday dinners, focus on structuring them as so:
½ your plate with fruits/vegetables, ¼ of your plate with a protein source, ¼ with a form of carb.
When it comes time for dessert- have just one small slice of cake or a cookie, or go "tapas-style" and split little bites of multiple things with significant others/relatives! This way, you get a little bit of everything without too much of one.
3- Move your body
Your workout routine will likely be a little thrown off during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to go from 60 to 0. Time for some alternative movement!
Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. Perhaps it’s a jog, bike ride, YouTube yoga session, bodyweight workout (hey, MBM Bodyweight Killers!), or -my favorite- walking! Any movement is better than no movement.
Not to mention, movement can help with digestion, and we’ll need that digestive tract operating topnotch to handle the goodies we’re tasting ;)
4- Check in with yourself
Again, we want to remain present. It’s easy to mindlessly snack during the holidays. Rather than letting your impulses get the best of you, stop and ask yourself, “Do I really want this?”
If you didn’t want it before you saw it, or if you realize you could do without it, then skip it. If you think it over and realize you do, in fact, want it- have a little and reassess!
5- Keep nutrition foods on-hand
Whether you’re out running around getting last minute holiday shopping done or at home wrapping presents, baking cookies, and getting everything together, have good options on-hand. A protein bar in your purse, nutritious foods in your cabinets, fruits and vegetables in your fridge… things you can quickly go for when hunger strikes.
Make sure they’re ready-to-eat options and easily accessible– similar to what a bag of potato chips or your kid’s leftover Halloween candies in the back of the pantry are, but better for you.
6- Drink more
Don't get too excited, I'm talking about water!
It can combat excess sodium from heavy holiday meals (like that Christmas ham) and stop the mind from tricking you into thinking you’re hungry when you’re actually not.
Thirst is often confused with hunger due to the way both signals originate in the brain. Staying sufficiently hydrated can prevent this from happening (and prevent you from decapitating another gingerbread man).
Keep your water bottle near you at all times to remind you to drink and refill, refill, refill all day long.
7- Limit alcohol
Again, moderation not deprivation. Enjoy festive drinks and celebratory cocktails– within reason.
Alcohol can do a number on us. It dehydrates us, feeds us plenty of empty calories quickly, and increases our appetites- leading to overeating (and it’s likely not an over-consumption of anything good for you).
Sip and alternate to help keep alcohol consumption in line while still having your fun.
(For more alcohol tips, head here)
8. Get your sleep!
Aside from it helping your overall well-being and longevity, getting adequate sleep can positively affect your hunger cues.
Leptin (the hormone that helps us feel full and satiated) elevates during sleep while ghrelin (the hormone that makes us hungry) elevates during a lack thereof.
If you’re skimping on your sleep, you’re likely to have an increase in ghrelin causing you to have increased hunger and appetite. You’re also more likely to crave sugar-rich foods and are more prone to mindless snacking when operating on less sleep.
Get your sleep, keep your appetite in-check!
Remember, this time of the year doesn’t need to be a complete wash. Things are a little hectic, a lot of fun, and just generally all over the place- but that’s okay. We can still maintain balance, minimize damage, and stay on-track. Remember, you are in control of what you put into your mouth and how you move your body.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
*For a little extra accountability and more help with establishing a balanced lifestyle that allows you to reach your goals without giving up your life, reach out about 1:1 online training!*