10 tips for enjoying the holidays WITHOUT gaining weight

cory-santaReady for those holiday parties? Remember, it’s all up to YOU whether you over-indulge or not! Yesterday I shared a few of my methods for keeping myself fit during the holiday season. Let’s take it a step further.

Consider these 10 tips for fully enjoying the holiday season without gaining weight!

  1. Focus on weight maintenance vs. weight loss during the holidays. If you are currently overweight and want to lose weight, this is a tough time to do it. Maintaining your present weight is a big enough challenge during the holiday season. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals for yourself, although I do know many people who have actually lost weight during the holidays by just being consistent and using self-discipline.
  2. DON’T plan on dieting after the New Year because the anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating during the holidays. “If I’m never going let myself eat these foods after Jan. 1st, I might as well eat as much as can right now!” Hey, restrictive diets don’t work in the long run. They increase your loss of lean body mass vs. fat, slow down your metabolism, increase anxiety, depression, and binge eating, and make weight re-gain more likely.
  3. Be physically active every day. You know my philosophy; a little extra exercise is better than no exercise at all. Often, our non-structured holiday schedules knock us off our otherwise regulated exercise routines. Any physical activity, especially of the aerobic nature like walking, bicycling,  blading or  swimming will help relieve stress, re-energize you and even lower your appetite, all while burning up unwanted calories.
  4. As I mentioned earlier fill up on healthy veggies before going to parties. Even have a protein shake … The worst thing you can do is arrive at a party starving, just like shopping hungry. It will set you up for failure. You will overeat, and most likely not be able to resist those tempting higher calorie foods.
  5. Make a plan. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it. So think it through – what is going to temp you there? What treat will you allow yourself, if any? What will you give up in your day to allow for that treat? Minimize your obstacles and potential failures by thinking about them in advance and avoiding those “bad choice” situations. Even alcohol – beware! Once you have had one drink, many people get sloppy and loosen up their quest to keep on the healthy food track. Know in advance that drinking is what causes some people to become weak in their decision-making skills… Minimize your alcohol, anyway, as it is extremely fattening.
  6. Do you have to plan luncheons for the holidays? Why always focus holiday gatherings on food? Who really needs to eat so much all the time? Why not get groups of friends together and go to the park, or to an art museum or observatory or bowling, etc. There are so many fun things to do other than sitting around a table and having a margarita… use your imagination. We are planning a holiday trip to Magic Mountain…and I am talking about adults, not kids. Do something non-food related. Do not eat beyond your body’s hunger level just because food is there in front of you. Get up and remove yourself from that situation. Go walk around the host’s house, look at their plants and artwork. Just get up off your butt and move yourself out of that situation of sitting near food when you’ve already had enough.
  7. It is so easy to reduce the fat in holiday recipes. There are plenty of low fat and low calorie substitutes that you can use. We all know the trick of using applesauce in place of oil in your holiday breads; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs. Go online and find low fat recipes. Use your common sense. Just cut down on any fat additives. You don’t need to use the egg yolks in baking and you also don’t need to have so much oil or shortening, either. Again, just use your head and cut these items way way way down… I don’t even have vegetable oil in my house… I never need it…not even when I am baking brownies. They taste totally the same without it.
  8. We already talked about drinks. Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain 150-450 calories per glass. Yuck, who needs those extra calories? Not me.  By contrast, water and diet sodas are calorie-free. If you choose to drink, select light wines and beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. Beware of fruit juices and punches and – oh my – egg nog….holy cow, look out for those calories!
  9. Enjoy good friends and family. Joy and fun don’t come with having to eat – no they come from your friends and conversations and communication…food is just an additive, not the main staple of a good time. Your focus should be on fun and people, not on food. Holidays are a time to celebrate our loved ones and give thanks for what we have. Never forget that balance, and moderation is key. It is easier to maintain a healthy diet and healthy choices than to continually go on and off and on and off good and bad foods all the time. I have lived my life eating pretty much healthy things with occasional treats like chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, but 90% of the time I am making deliberate good choices…and in the long run, I can say I feel and look pretty good for a person my age and I don’t have to struggle to do so because of the routine I’ve chosen.
  10. And don’t fret…. Overeating one day here or there won’t make or break your eating plan and most likely won’t even make you gain weight…. as long as it is only occasional. Honestly, it takes many days of eating more calories than you burn to actually gain weight. So if you fall off the program temporarily, don’t throw in the towel and give up totally. Just get back on the horse as quickly as possible before you cause permanent weight gain.

So, go out there and have fun! Remember, you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday festivities more if you feel good about yourself!



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