I am looking at my calendar right now. And between today and December 28th, I have thirteen holiday-related events to attend. All but one of those involve food. This does not include the dozens of gift baskets my husband will bring home from work—also filled with food. Or the dozens of cookies we will bake this month—also food.
If I don’t watch it, I will double my size by the turn of the year. Which will be highly inconvenient, because, see, I’m attending a wedding in January, and the expensive dress my husband bought me to wear to the wedding fits me right now.
The average person gains two to seven pounds over the six-week holiday season. And despite their best intentions, most people fail to lose the holiday weight. In fact, not only do they retain the weight, but they continue to add to that weight, long past the New Year. Year-after-year.
The gift that keeps on giving.
But WE are not average! NO!!! WE are AWESOME! We will not wave the white flag of surrender to the added inches on our butts and bellies. We will move through December with nary an extra pound. No tricks. No gimmicks. We will do it using common sense.
(Do you hear trumpets? I swear, I hear trumpets right now.)
Here are eight commonsensical things we can do this month to avoid holiday weight gain.
1. Find time to move: Yes, we are all busy. Yes, there will be days you will not have time to complete your normal workout. But don’t fall for the all-or-nothing-trap. Squeeze exercise in whenever you can. If you don’t have time to drive to the gym and do a full class, lace up your running shoes and do a quick jog around the block. If you don’t have time for your entire 60-minute DVD, then do ten minutes of jumping jacks alternating with push-ups and squats. Get up fifteen minutes earlier and hop on the treadmill. Go for a family walk after dinner and look at Christmas lights—every little bit benefits your body and helps combat extra calories. And let’s face it, not every day is packed (if it is, then it’s time to say no to something). On your intermittent “normal” days, do your full routine and add 10 extra minutes, a few extra reps or push yourself extra hard.
2. Eat at home whenever possible: You already know you have thirteen Christmas parties coming up. So when you’re not a partying fool, fix something simple, healthy and wholesome in your own kitchen. Plan ahead so you’re not standing in front of the fridge a 4 pm wondering what to cook for dinner. Stock your kitchen with a ton of fresh fruits and veggies and snack on them several times a day.
3. Take healthy snacks: Grab an apple, some nuts and a bottle of water before you walk out the door. You’ll be so glad you did.
4. Be picky: Don’t eat crap just because it’s a party. Sure, go ahead and indulge a little on the fabulous food at. But if you are at the second grade classroom bash, and the best thing on the table is store bought sugar cookies with an inch of red and green frosting and sprinkles, then skip it. Your body is worth more than that. Treat it well.
5. Take a healthy dish to the potluck. If I can contribute to the menu, I opt for something nutritious I enjoy, and fill up on that. My go-to dish is a giant salad made with dark, mixed greens (like spinach, romaine and arugula), mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, feta cheese and salted almonds with balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side. Put it on a giant red platter so the colors burst and it looks super-festive. Don’t worry about being a Christmas Party Pooper because you’re the chick who shows up with salad—most people are as relieved as you are to find something healthy and delicious on the buffet table.
6. Plan for the busy evenings: If you are like us, the aforementioned thirteen Christmas activities are in addition to all the normal activities—sports, lessons, bible study, meetings or youth group. If I fail to plan what we are eating, we find ourselves packed in a car on our way to the next thing, starving. That’s when it’s easy to say, “forget it—we’re going to Chick Fil A.” But if I take a few minutes at the beginning of the week and plan for those busy evenings, I can avoid an unnecessary calorie-splurge. Maybe I can fix something in the Crockpot and serve an early dinner before we head out. Or maybe I can quickly open a can of tomato soup with some fresh-cut veggies. Or maybe we will eat on the road, but I can plan for fresh salads or sandwiches instead of deep-fried chicken, waffle fries and soda.
7. Be careful with the liquid calories: Hot chocolate with marshmallows, eggnog, mocha-mint lattes, gingerbread-flavored non-dairy coffee creamers, cocktails…they are all LOADED with calories and sugar (and chemicals!). If you want to indulge, choose one a day, and savor it. Otherwise, drink water and plain tea.
8. Get it out of your house: Wanna know how to spell trouble? “Five dozen homemade Christmas cookies sitting on a holiday platter in the center of your kitchen table.” Go ahead and bake your five dozen cookies with your kids. But when you are finished, hold back a few for yourself and give the rest away. (Better yet, send them in with your husband to work. That way, the ladies in his office gain weight, while you stay healthy and sexy.) (I totally know what I am doing for his office gifts this year.) (You’re welcome for that idea.)
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Q4U: How do you combat the holiday weight gain? Share your tips here!
p.s. I know I promised you Part 3 of the Mystery Ingredients Revealed series. I promise, it’s coming.
But, I had to talk about these strategies before you started gaining holiday weight!
You’re welcome again.
Linking up with Jill Conyers this week, who is extending an invitation to a 2013 fitness challenge!