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The Battle of the Holiday Bulge

That’s right, the holidays are here. Both of the big holidays around my family, Thanksgiving and Christmas are a wonderful time of year. I always look forward to seeing family and eating lots of yummy stuff. And though I care about health and wellness, I am NOT interested in having some sort of crazy Thanksgiving dinner where we all eat turkey salad instead of turkey, gravy, ham, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Some folks plan to gain a few pounds in the months of November and December. I mean, really, with all those delish meals and holiday gatherings, office parties, and random bakers showing up with cookies, who can blame us for gaining a few, right? The problem lies with gaining more than a few. Or for some of us, keeping those few and then gaining a few more the next year too. Really, it’s about habits. If you allow yourself to ‘let loose’ for two months, you’ve developed a very strong habit of eating decadent, fat-laden, sugar dense foods by that juncture, right?

So here’s how I handle the holidays so that I don’t change my habits too much but I can still enjoy myself and indulge for parties and family gatherings:

* I eat very well during the week, exactly like I should. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few healthy snacks in between. Whole grains, little sugar, plenty of lean protein, veggies and fruits. This is easy during the work week since I’m at my desk and there’s very little ‘bad stuff’ calling my name. If this gets hard, I just remind myself of all the goodies coming up soon. I also LOVE how I feel when I’ve eaten very clean for a couple of days in a row. That feeling is a great motivator.

* On the day of a holiday party or gathering I eat VERY light up until the party. I stick to lean meats and veggies if I can. I space out my light meals and snacks so that I never get hungry. Then, right before leaving for a party, I’ll have one last snack, maybe just an apple. Something light but that will help me to not feel ravenous when I get there. Then I let myself eat what I want at the party. Or have the cocktail I want. If something is really really terrible for me, I still may eat it, but just a little bit of it. I still may be over my calorie intake for the day, but it SHOULD average out for the week since I ate VERY well during the workweek.

* Cold weather makes me want to work out less. Instead of giving in, I accept that I may not be the ‘workout go-getter’ that I am in the summer. So I make a deal with myself. I just make myself get changed and press play – and just do 20 minutes of a good workout DVD. If I feel great, I very well may keep going. But if I’m still not into it, my deal with myself was 20 minutes, so I can stop after 20. This way I still get a little workout in, without too much heartache. This is one of the biggest keys to keeping motivated throughout the holidays and through winter. I also find running in cold weather to be MUCH more pleasant than in hot weather. So I am able to make myself run a few days a week still, this is a huge help since every mile run equals about 100 calories. Whaaat!!!???

* I weigh myself once a week – in the morning before breakfast – and keep a log of it. I also log my basic measurements. This isn’t meant to punish myself. Rather it’s to make sure I notice if something is going awry. If I gain a pound, I don’t care. But if I’ve gained 5 and it’s consistent, I know I need to make a change. If that happens, I add in a few more miles of running every week. I cut out desserts during the week, any little change that will adjust a few hundred calories each day. It’s much easier to catch this early on and adjust than it is to try to get 10 or 15 pounds off in January. A lot less heartache this way too! Small changes are key. And maybe another small change it at the next holiday party, you take one less serving of hors d’oeuvres. Or ask for a rum and diet coke instead of a rum and coke. 🙂

* Finally, the days of the ‘big’ meals…Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Here’s my plan of attack. I get up and I run before I do anything. (well, okay, I have some water and a half of a bagel before my run). And I run hard and a little further than usual. So if I normally would do 3 miles, I’ll do 5. It’s not punishment. It’s preparation. If you’re not a runner, you can still do something like this. Go for a walk for 45 minutes. Don’t stroll. Walk! Go GET it! Sweat a little. Get back and do a few pushups too while you’re at it! This will get your metabolism humming for the day. You’ll need it later. Now the rest of the day, while things are cooking – TRY to drink lots of water. And for snacks while cooking, cook up some baked kale chips, or snack on a veggie tray. Do eat a light breakfast. Do eat a light lunch if your Thanksgiving dinner is at night. Skipping these meals will slow your metabolism. Keep it high so you can burn through that gigantic meal. And finally, eat all the things you love. Really! Do it. The one caveat, is TRY to keep the really rich stuff to one serving. You CAN do it! Double up on your turkey, veggies or potatoes if you want to. Then, after the big meal, get out and move a little again. You may not feel like running, but you can go for a stroll for another 30 minutes.

I hope this helps you feel prepared for this season – the season of the bulge… Just remember, prevention is MUCH more pleasant than having to make a new year’s resolution to lose all that holiday weight!

If you have other tips, I’d love to hear them below!

~To Your Health~

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