It’s that time of year again. We kick it off with the sweet bite sized treats of Halloween, follow it with too much turkey and stuffing, add in some cookies, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and then end it with the dreaded stepping on the scale and shaking our heads in disgust. Yup….it’s the holiday season kick off, but if you make a few changes now, it doesn’t have to end in tears while standing on a scale in your birthday suit come January!
This weekend is Halloween, which means you most likely have many bags of bite sized treats taunting you. They seem innocent as they are tiny, however many of us don’t stop at one treat…we stop when the bag is empty. This year I did things a little different, I haven’t purchased any Halloween treats yet. I plan on going to pick them up on Saturday so I am not tempted to dip into the bag of little progress sabotagers. I am human, therefore I will indulge in a few pieces here and there, but they will be earned treats and they will be rationed into daily “rewards” for myself. I also plan on picking up a small bag of Hershey Dark Chocolate Miniatures as I enjoy them and they are a “healthy” option to the peanut butter cup or Butterfinger if I truly feel the need for the sweet treat.
Next up on the holiday list is Thanksgiving, which to me is one of the hardest food holidays. Many families indulge in a nice breakfast while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Food preparations often start the night before if you will be cooking for many guests. There is a lot of tasting involved during the cooking processes as well, which leads to MANY unaccounted for calories. Add in the football games which means chips & dip, appetizers and a few beers and you have most likely taken in more than your daily allotted calories before the actual meal is even served!
Ways to ease the calories here is to try to stick to your normal healthy breakfast (for me, it’s Shakeology), snack on raw veggies instead of taking spoonfuls of mashed potatoes every time you pass the pot on the stove, drink lots of water and bank some of your calories so you can enjoy Grandma’s favorite holiday recipes that you look forward to all year. Another great idea is to also have healthier steamed or roasted veggie options along with the traditional decadent holiday favorites.
As soon as the table is cleared, the pants are unbuttoned and you’ve taken your tryptophan siesta on the couch the reality of Christmas hits you. Many people wake up and brave the stores and malls for Black Friday deals. This usually results in grabbing a cup of coffee at 3am as you run out of the door with your flyers and lists in hand, to go fight people for items you really don’t need because they are a “good deal” (totally off topic, but true). After the mayhem a Dunkin Donuts run is usually in order followed by a nap and leftovers from the night before. Healthy? I think not!
If you feel the need to run out at 3am to wait in line, why not plan your meals as well as your deal catching strategies? It’s not hard to grab a protein bar, toss some fruit into your bag or even stop and sit at a diner with your shopping partner for healthier option to the glazed donut.
From here on, it’s baking cookies and other sweets, office parties, family get togethers and lots of time spent at the mall. It’s easy to get run down and opt for some drive-thru on the way home. This is when you need to be most focused and here are some things I plan of doing this holiday season:
- Plan out your meals. If you shop in advance and have a plan you are less likely to stop for that greasy cheeseburger!
- Bust out the crock-pot so it can do the work for you while you are out and about. There is nothing like coming home to a healthy meal that is waiting to be served.
- Don’t waste time looking for a parking spot right up front. Park further away and walk briskly. It will help to get your heart rate up a little and give you an energy boost.
- Keep healthy snacks handy on those long shopping days. I try to always have a Cliff bar and a piece of fruit in my bag so I’m not tempted to get Auntie Ann’s or Mrs. Fields while at the mall.
- If you are already following a workout regimen stick to it! I know we run short on time around the holidays but you will feel better if you do. Sticking to it will also help you make wiser food choices and it helps to reduce stress!
- Limit alcohol intake at holiday parties. Alcohol is just empty calories and adds up fast.
- Eat a healthy meal BEFORE going to holiday parties. By doing this you won’t be starving when you arrive and you will be less likely to pop every bites sized hors d’oeuvre into your mouth as they come around.
- Drink you water! This is one of the most important tips for any day of the year. People mistake dehydration for hunger all the time. If you consistently drink water you will feel full and consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Now I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy yourself during the holidays. I’m just asking that you be smart about it. Have a few treats that you only get this time of year. There’s no reason to skip your favorites, just remember moderation. Part of the holidays is eating foods that you normally wouldn’t with friends and family that you may not normally see. Denying yourself any of these treats will only backfire on you later. Try to limit the splurges to the actual holiday itself and pass on the leftovers. If you goof up, it’s not the end of the world. Just climb back on the wagon and hold on for dear life. The 8 weeks will be over before you know it and hopefully the Kleenex will not be needed on January 1st when you step on the scale.