By Tricia Silverman
The holiday count down is on! To stay happier and healthier this season, treat holi-days as days, don’t turn them into holi-weeks or holi-months! The following tips will help keep you and your clients feeling like sprightly elves, rather than melting snowmen and women, as the New Year approaches.
- Have a game plan for the season. Map out the season’s parties and events in your calendar, and decide which events to have small indulgences at, and which events you will stick to healthy eating. For instance, your aunt is baking your favorite chocolate torte cake for a weekend party in early December, and you have a work potluck holiday event that same week. Perhaps you make the choice to enjoy your aunt’s cake, but not indulge in sweets at the holiday potluck. Instead, bring a fruit salad to the work party, so you have a healthy option if you are craving something sweet.
- Plan for when your plan fails. If you planned not to eat at the work party, but had too many desserts anyway, followed by more unhealthy eating at home…now what? The key is if you fall off the healthy eating wagon, get back on as soon as possible. Don’t wait days or weeks, get back on track at the next meal or snack.
- Log Your Food. If you’ve fallen off track for one or more days and are finding it hard to get back on track, logging your food in an app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt is a great way to snap out of an unhealthy eating cycle. Know there is wiggle room between weight loss and weight maintenance of a few hundred calories, so a small indulgence will not increase your weight, but larger and continued indulgences will. Be careful though, even with smaller indulgences, the sugar can keep you hungry and craving more sugary food.
- Weigh yourself daily or weekly. This is a helpful form of accountability. It is easy to nip a two or three pound weight gain in the bud if you catch it early, but several weeks of unhealthy eating and not weighing in can lead to a larger weight gain that is harder to take off.
- “Be Picky,” says Chet and Pat Skibinski, co-directors of 1 Fitbug Training & Consulting, an incorporated company in Guelph, that focuses on senior fitness, as well as CPR and First Aid training for fitness instructors and healthcare professionals. “Your senses can be overwhelmed by the holidays. Rather than mindless choices, make picky choices that leave your body feeling energized.”
- Be mindful about your nutrition. Chet and Pat recommend having fun while following their three Mindful Nutrition Guidelines. “Whatever the occasion, these will get you through.”
1) Have a balance of quality macronutrients (good protein, good carbs, good fats)
2) Have a balance of calories going IN vs OUT.
3) Time your calories over the day.
- Keep tempting foods out of sight. “The biggest rule in my house for avoiding junk food is: OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND!” says Teresa Sisi, canfitpro Personal Training Specialist. “Everyone is going to give you chocolate as gifts, so the best way to avoid gaining the extra weight from packaged sweets during the holidays is to either re-gift the chocolate or hide it somewhere where you will not come across it every day.”
- Increase your movement. “Since we tend to eat more during the holiday season, an effective way to avoid putting on the excess weight is to increase the frequency of your workouts,” says Sisi. “At least this way, you will rev up your metabolism to burn more calories.” One way to add more movement is to have the family take a walk after the holiday meal or between courses. Ask guests to bring weather-friendly footwear, so it’s easy to get up and move together.
- Prioritize stress reduction. The stress of the holidays can lead to overeating and poor food choices. Take charge of your stress. Keep detailed to-do lists, and chip away at any large stressor. For example, if gift giving is stressing you out, don’t wait until the last minute to buy gifts. Start ahead of time…even stopping to buy one gift after work today, will take the pressure off a few weeks from now. Even if your free time dwindles, commit to shorter stress reduction activities, such as 10-minute walks or movement bursts, five minute meditations, taking five deep breaths, etc. Plan to do things that make you happy, even if you can only fit in short bursts of desired activities, such as reading a book or enjoying the holiday lights.
Practicing these tips will keep the season healthy, merry and bright! Happy Holi-DAYS!
Tricia Silverman is a registered dietitian, wellness coach, and fitness instructor. She’s a 2018 canfitpro World Fitness Expo Presenter, and 2018 SCW Fitness Florida Convention Presenter of the Year. She created and leads the SCW Nutrition for Active Aging Certification