Have Your Cake & Eat It Too This Holiday
Is holiday weight-gain inevitable? As personal trainers, we assure you it IS possible to avoid it with a few hacks we have up our sleeve. Keep reading to get the low-down on how to avoid holiday weight-gain this year!
Did you know that any sudden change in your typical diet can affect your digestive system, contributing to a build up of waste and therefore weight-gain? So we are NOT writing today to dispel a myth like we do in our myth-busting series (so sorry to break the bad news…).
Here are some tips based on our professional knowledge and expertise so this holiday will be different. If you follow the advice here, you can avoid undoing a good chunk of your progress thus far or making it doubly difficult for you to succeed in your health & fitness goals come January.
How to Avoid Holiday Weight-Gain
- Start NOW in Preparations. Ok, you KNOW you’re going to indulge over the holidays – unless you’re a personal trainer or have superior self-control (good on you if you do!). But if you are a regular Joe/Josephine, we suggest you slowly start adjusting your current diet to prepare for those extra, empty calories. The easiest change is to cut out all packaged foods. Next, eat more home-cooked meals prepared by YOU so you know exactly what you’re eating. Add more protein, fruits and veggies (choosing more that are low in the glycemic-index). If you know cookies and treats are in your near future, eat less starches as in bread, rice (except for the wild variety) and potatoes (except for sweet potatoes). Finally, be mindful of portion control – if you workout, you’ll need a bit larger portions but if you’re sedentary, then little meals are key.
- Fill Up on Salad & Veggies FIRST. If you’re going to a holiday dinner and you’re not sure if there will be salad or a veggie platter served, why not bring your own as a good guest should? That way you know you’ll have the option of filling your belly full of nutrients and fiber, AND sharing the goodness with others, before you’re tempted on an empty stomach by all the delicious yet maybe not so nutritious meal offerings.
- Eat Slowly & Savour Every Bite. This is a another trick that will help you eat less AND improve your digestion (read: Get Satisfaction, Not Fullness (Healthy Eating Tips). Did you know that it takes time for your brain to register that you’re full? When you leave the table and you’re saying, “I’m SO full, I’m about to burst!” you’ve overeaten. And it’s probably because you ate too quickly to allow your brain to catch up to your belly.
- Absolutely NO Second Helpings. This hack ties into the previous one. If you eat slowly enough, then you’re less likely to go for seconds. Another trick to avoid overeating (read Tips to Control Overindulgence & Stop Overeating Part 1 & Part 2), is to have a glass of water after your meal, coffee or tea (which signal the end of a meal), or pop a mint or gum.
- Earn It. This is a favourite saying by Gidon Gabbay, owner & operator of G Force. Our tagline is, “Train Your Mind to Train Your Body” and this is a very effective mental trick: start viewing “treats” as rewards. If you know you’re going to have mashed potatoes with Mom’s out-of-this-world gravy, then do what you need to do prior to the event to combat the caloric increase. We suggest to be as proactive as you can possibly be because if, ooops, you have an unplanned glass of wine with dinner and tell yourself you’ll tack on an extra 20 minutes to your next workout, realistically and in our professional experience, chances are you won’t follow through with your good intentions. But, hey, we challenge you to prove us wrong!
- Choose to Indulge But Within Strict Limits. Ok, you REALLY want that slice of pie. Give yourself permission to have your favourite treat BUT if you haven`t earned the entire portion, then have only a bite or two. Share it with someone (it`ll taste better anyway!). Once you have your few bites, engage in the tips mentioned above in No. 4 or brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
- Drink Green Tea. Before, during and after the holidays, choose green tea as a warm beverage to enjoy ANY time. There are no calories to this wonderful drink, it has major anti-oxidants AND it`s been proven to boost metabolism which helps you burn calories even at rest.
- Avoid Alcohol or Limit It. Yes, we know, easier said than done during the holidays. And while you can take our advice above by “earning it,” this totally depends on where you`re at in your health program. If you`ve got an aggressive goal, then just don`t drink alcohol unless you`re willing to take more time to reach your goal. If you`re maintaining, then you have a little more leeway. If you do indulge in the empty calories alcohol offers (plus the ones in the munchies it creates), then make sure to drink extra water, electrolytes and focus on eating healthy food (like fruits, veggies and lean protein) the next day to help with your recovery.
- Increase Your Current Exercise Time. One of the most common things we hear as personal trainers is, “I`ll get back to you in January.” This is a prime example of a “seasonal reaction” based on societal pressures we mentioned back in our article, Summer is NOT Over & Neither Is Your Program. Why not be a leader this year and start your New Year`s resolutions immediately? (Read: How to Stay Strong and Not Conform and Best New Year`s Resolution: Be A Leader.) If you have to, start a new workout program to keep motivated.
Depending on where you`re starting, if you take even half of this advice, not only will you avoid holiday weight-gain, you might even LOSE weight this holiday season! It`s truly up to you, we only give you the information you need but in the end, it`s your choices that make the difference to you and your health & fitness goals.
If you wish any assistance with avoiding holiday weight-gain and, hey maybe, even losing weight over the next month, please contact us for a complimentary consultation. We are here to inform, motivate and get you closer to your health and fitness goals than you ever have before!