Studies show most adults gain 1-2 pounds during the Holidays. A study from Cornell University also found that it typically takes 5 months to lose that extra weight. Many people never lose it!
One to two pounds may not sound like much, but it adds up. Put on two pounds each year for the next twenty years and you’re looking at FORTY POUNDS of weight gain. (THAT is how it happens, by the way. One pound at a time, year after year.)
Instead of a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, make a December resolution to avoid weight gain in the first place. These are my Great Eight tips to help you achieve that. Heck, if you use these tips you may even lose a few pounds before you ring in the new year.
#1 – Ask Yourself Why
Why do you want to stay healthy this Holiday season? Do you want to have more energy so you can enjoy Christmas festivities? Do you want to sleep better? Want to avoid getting sick? Want to start 2019 feeling more confident? Ask yourself the why first.
Write this down and hang it somewhere you can see daily. This is what will drive change and keep you motivated all the way through the new year.
#2 – Quit Counting Calories
That 100-calorie package of cookies is going to do damage to your appetite, heart, and waistline. 200 calories of avocado, on the other hand, can improve blood sugars and heart health, keep you full and satisfied, and help with weight loss.
Optimal health is not just calories. It is about focusing on quality, not quantity. I’ve had plenty of clients who have actually lost weight while increasing their calories. If you only take one thing away from this, it’s that we should all focus on consuming our calories through real food.
#3 – Plan ahead
The Holidays are full of travel, family get-togethers, work parties, and a lot of excuses to lay around and eat some not-so-healthy food. It’s helpful to bring healthy options to parties, to bring healthy snacks during travel, to plan grocery lists and healthy recipes you want to make for the week.
But make no mistake, staying on track isn’t just about planning workouts or healthy meals. It’s about planning when we want to indulge, so we stay motivated to eat healthy the majority of the time. It’s about planning when we need to squeeze in a quick 20-minute workout in our living room. It’s even about planning rest days.
Try to make mostly healthy choices, but remember a few holiday splurges and some missed workouts are not going to permanently derail things. Enjoy when you splurge, then get back on track. Staying on track is not about perfection – it’s about consistency.
#4 – Prepare For “No”
A lot of people are going to offer you Holiday treats and goodies. If you don’t want something, don’t feel bad saying no. You don’t have to apologize for making good food choices. Be proud that you want to take care of yourself.
Who knows – your “no” may motivate friends and family to change their habits for the better.
#5 – Eat more vegetables
I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true.
Why is this crucial to staying on track? Vegetables provide key nutrients that optimize metabolism, detoxification, cognition and more. They’re also full of fiber and water, which keep you full and stabilize blood sugars. This means less sugar cravings. Goodbye Christmas cookie binges!
Vegetables are also super low in calories, but they take up a lot of room. No, calories are not everything (as I discussed above) but they are still a piece of the puzzle. If you load up on vegetables you’re less likely to overeat.
An easy way to incorporate more vegetables is by swapping grains for veggies, like zucchini pasta or cauliflower rice.
#6 – Pause
The Holidays are busy (is it just me or does it fly by faster every year?). It’s easy to get swept up in the chaos and make hasty food decisions. Taking the time to pause is huge.
If you want a cookie as you pass by the pantry, pause and ask yourself if those 30 seconds of pleasure are worth it. Why not take the time to eat something that will actually fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied and full of energy and save the cookies for a special occasion? Or, if you’re just snacking because you’re bored, drink a full glass of water or tea. The craving will pass.
If you’re halfway through your dinner at a restaurant and you’re starting to get full, pause and enjoy your company for the next 5-10 minutes. Engage in conversation, drink some water, and then reassess and see if you’re still hungry. If you’re full, box up the leftovers and save it for later.
#7 – Liquids Count
It’s easy to ignore liquid calories, but they add up fast. Drinks are the number one source of sugar in our diets. Soda is an obvious offender, but don’t forget about sneakier sources: sweetened tea, juice, sports drinks, coffee, kombucha, and alcohol.
Try adding cinnamon or nutmeg to your coffee rather than loading up on flavored creamers or sugar. When you order coffee at a coffee shop, ask the barista to modify your drink. Look at nutrition labels and find kombucha brands/flavors that are lower in sugar. Sweeten your hot tea with small amounts of raw unrefined honey, or drink it as-is. If you’re into cocktails, try something light like a serving of liquor with club soda and a little fruit juice.
I love a cup of unsweetened Matcha to start my morning right, and I sip on herbal teas like ginger, peppermint or roasted dandelion root when it’s cold outside and I want something warm and comforting.
#8 – Keep Things Convenient
Don’t try to make healthy recipes with thirty ingredients. Find easy, healthy, go-to recipes that you can make fast with little effort. One-pan veggies are a breeze and there are usually leftovers. Healthy crockpot dishes can cook while you’re sleeping. Stock up on easy snacks like fruit, whole-fat cheese, hummus, diced veggies, nuts, seeds, or dark chocolate (make sure it’s at least 70% cocoa to keep it low sugar and reap the benefits).
Make no mistake – it’s ok and healthy to relax and enjoy yourself. But don’t let the Holidays completely wreck your body and your health. You deserve better than that!
Enjoy the holidays, but keep it real, and stay on track so you can be a healthier, happier you.