By Kari Richie, Springmoor Health and Fitness Director
The holiday season can be a time of celebration with family and friends, but it can also be a time of stress and weight gain. Avoid the anxiety and pounds this year by focusing on a healthy balance of food, activity and fun.
By implementing a few simple mantras and trying a few simple moves, you can make sure you’re prepared to start off 2015 the right way:
- Be realistic. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; try to maintain your weight instead.
- Put exercise on your calendar. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Make exercise fun by including family and friends. Grab a relative after the holiday dinner and take a brisk 10- to 15-minute walk together, or start a new tradition by holding a competition to see who can do the most jumping jacks in one minute. Going shopping on Black Friday? Park farther away from the mall and take the stairs instead of the escalator. Is watching football part of your tradition? Do squats on commercial breaks, or, better yet, toss around the ball with family outside.
- Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack to curb your appetite like a few raw vegetables or a piece of fruit. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
- Look at all the buffet options before filling your plate. Though the temptation is there, you don’t have to eat every item you see. Stick with your favorites and skip the rest. Try to include some fruit and vegetables for a balanced plate.
- Don’t eat until you are stuffed. It’s not a holiday requirement. You can still savor your favorite holiday treats in small portions. Instead of immediately taking your plate back to the buffet for seconds, talk with your family and friends first; this gives you time to digest your first serving and determine whether or not you are actually full.
- Be careful with beverages. Alcohol reduces inhibitions, but can induce overeating; both alcoholic and non-alcoholic holiday beverages are typically full of calories and sugar.
- Don’t let one “bad” or “heavy” meal ruin all of your holiday eating. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
- Take your focus off of food. This may seem harder than it sounds. Instead of focusing on what’s for dinner (and dessert), spend time with family and friends by playing games, making a holiday wreath, or volunteering in the community.
We can all enjoy the holidays without ruining our waistlines by planning for activity and incorporating healthy recipes into our holiday meals. Don’t restrict your favorite holiday foods; just restrict the portion size. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.