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Holiday Health Tips

Dec 7, 2009


The game is on! Thanksgiving is the kickoff that starts the season of the parties and treats, buffets, football games and extra alcoholic beverages. Cookies and candies are brought in to offices on a daily basis, plopped right in the central location for office grazing. Family and friends get together for potlucks, and pies and chips and cheesy dips are the main attraction. Here are a few tips to keep you on your goal for weight loss and avoid the average 10-pound holiday weight gain.

Eat before you go shopping.
Going to the mall. Ah the mall - shopping is fine and so is the smell of those cinnamon rolls! Do yourself a favor - eat before you go. It's kind of like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You always buy more treats if you are hungry. Same goes for the mall. If you have a satisfied appetite before you go, you are much less likely to indulge in a sweet treat. But wait a minute - some of us can shop for hours! Carry a healthy snack like an apple or handful of nuts in your bag. If you really need a pick-me-up or get caught without a healthy snack in your bag, get a nutrition shake. Thankfully, most malls have healthy real fruit shakes and smoothy vendors. Add protein powder and a small size smoothy should satisfy.
Get enough sleep.
In an article from Health.com, courtesy of HealthDay News, Michelle May, M.D., author, Am I Hungry? What To Do When Diets Don't Work agreed, adding, "When you're tired, you're less resilient to stress and other common emotional triggers for eating. When you eat to help you cope with emotions, you're more likely to choose comfort foods like chocolate, ice cream or chips." How much sleep do you need? Some of us need seven to eight hours per night; others need ten. If you are feeling sleep deprived, get a half-hour catnap if you can or go to bed earlier tonight. Your waist will thank you. For more information on emotional eating see below.
Holiday Get-Togethers.
Lots of us are fortunate enough to be invited to holiday get-togethers. Please don't ruin your holiday cheer by hiding out at home to avoid blowing your diet. That's not what lifelong weight management is about. That's not what life is about. Again, the best tip I have for you is to eat a healthy snack before you go. Don't go to the party ravenously hungry. If the party is a formal dinner, eat small portions. If the party is a potluck or buffet, look for the veggies, fruit, and lean meats. Better yet, the dish that you bring should be low-fat. Then you know there is something healthy to eat. Avoid breads, creamy sauces, fried foods, cakes, and eggnog. Engage in conversation and eat slowly and then move away from the food. Watch the alcohol. Lots of sugar in there. Stick with one light beer or a wine spritzer. Better yet, volunteer to be the designated driver and skip the alcohol completely. I bet you'll have a great time and go home without any "blew my diet" guilt or a hangover.
Avoiding the office treat depot.
Again, it's that time of year when loving office mates bring in goodies and candies from home. I'm sure your office has a central location, a treat depot if you will, for deposit of these delectables. Office employees tend to be nibblers. Here's your weight loss armor: Avoid the area totally if possible. Don't go there. Many office workers sit all day. Those treats are going to head south to your butt faster than Santa's sleigh. If you feel deprived, allow yourself one treat every other day. One - and eat it slowly and savor, while you are walking away from the treat depot.
Give yourself a present - Exercise.
This is my favorite because it allows you to give yourself a present that is healthy and motivating. If you are around like-minded people, interested in fat loss and health, you are more likely to stay motivated and on track. If you have been walking for exercise, weather may play a part in skipping your daily walk. Gyms have treadmills and exercise bikes, all inside, out of the weather. No excuses.
Allow yourself a treat.
Most diets fail because they become obsessions, virtual food prisons. If you feel deprived, or starved for that matter, allow yourself a treat. Make it a healthy one. Bake an apple with cinnamon and nutmeg. Enjoy a fruit smoothy. Make a big bowl of popcorn with a little dab of real butter or try pepper or seasoning salt. I like to pop the real kernels (yes, you can still get them) because I can control the type of oil and the butter that goes in. If you have forgotten how much better regular kernel popcorn tastes to those microwave packs, you are in for a treat.
Going to the movies.
With extra time on our hands and family visiting, you may find yourself heading for the movies. When you do avoid the popcorn, coke, and soda. Here's the lowdown courtesy of Calorielab.com: Popcorn, medium, no added butter: 951 calories, 58 grams fat, 0 grams cholesterol, 93 grams carbs. There is usually quite a bit of salt here too. Coke, medium: 236 calories, 0 grams fat, 72 mg sodium, 58.9 grams carbs. If we do the math this adds up to more than 1,000 calories even before your nachos. Yippee! Nachos: 40 chips with four ounces of that mystery cheese has approximately 1,101 calories - roughly equal to two large McDonald's fries orders or two Quarter Pounders with (real?) cheese. Also included is a whopping 59 grams of fat, 18.5 of them saturated. Need I say more? Think water and small handful of nuts in your bag. Until movie theatres start offering healthy choices, you have the right to do this!
Give healthy gifts.
In order to keep health and weight loss in your mind and to show those special people in your life that you care about their health as well, give gifts of health and wellness. Get his and her bikes for your sweety and you. Give someone a gift certificate to an organic food store or health club. For someone who has been talking about taking up yoga, buy a yoga mat or purchase an ebook to get them started. For someone who likes to cook, get a cookbook with low-fat alternative ingredients. For someone who is always stressed, give a gift certificate for a massage. Ahhh!
Bundle up, get outside and exercise.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful (sing with me here...) but you have holiday stress and are surrounded by goodies. If you don't have a gym membership, bundle up and get outside! A short walk in the snow burns calories and fat, is great for calves and abs, and fresh air energizes.
Drink plenty of water. Water is a necessity, not a luxury. Our bodies require it every day. During the winter months with heaters and fireplaces running, we lose moisture from the dry air at an astonishing rate. Don't believe me? Put a shallow bowl of water out in your bedroom. Watch how fast the water evaporates. According to Jon Benson, fitness expert and author of The Every Other Day Diet, "You must drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day, every day, in order to burn fat." Jon suggests spacing out the water throughout the day and warns that you can actually damage your body if you drink too much water at one time. He suggests about one quart spaced throughout the day for every 50 - 75 pounds of bodyweight for fat burning and to stay hydrated.

Following tips like these should send you sailing through the holidays without setbacks in your diet plans. Here's wishing you peace, joy, and happiness.

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