Ten Tips for Staying in Shape During the Holidays

Want to lose 7 -10 pounds? The best way is NOT to gain it over the holidays! 

The holidays are not only notorious for long lines, major traffic, and familial tiffs, but also with super-rich foods, overindulgence, and lower activity levels. The latter adds up and becomes part of what we all dread: holiday weight gain. It happens to all most everyone. Whether it be one pound, half a pound, or five pounds, the weight goes on and rarely comes off. Five Christmas’ later, you have a significant weight gain on your hands (or hips!). So what to do?

Here’s our list of ten tips to make sure you stay in shape over the holiday season and avoid putting “lose weight” as one of your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Stay active: One of the major causes of weight gain during the holidays is lack of activity. Time is spent doing holiday errands, which makes us more tired, less motivated, and not wanting to stick to our routine. Best thing to do.stick to your regular schedule! Not only will it help keep weight gain down, it will give you more energy and it will reduce your stress which are both needed to battle the long lines and parking squabbles. Better yet, if you can up your activity, even better! Try walking a few extra laps around the mall. Or an extra 20 minutes on that treadmill.

2. Don’t starve yourself: One of the most common mistakes people make is to go hungry all day so that they can “afford” the calories later on at the holiday party they will be attending. Big no-no! You will be so hungry by the time you get to the party, that you will forget about any sense of the word moderation or control. You are setting yourself up for a major binge. Make sure to eat your normal (healthy, hopefully) meals and keep your hunger at bay so that you can enjoy the food at the party without going overboard. Another thing to do is have a snack before you go the party. A piece of fruit or something along those lines will keep you somewhat satiated.

3. Don’t let your fat diary go! If you stick to your normal routine of writing down what you eat, you will be able to monitor your caloric intake better. Go online to www.Philsfatdiaries.com and sign up for your free fat diary. Research shows that people who keep a fat diary actually consume 15% less food than those who do not!

4. Choose healthier options: There are some healthy options that you can eat during the holidays. White meat turkey is a great lean protein. Vegetables that aren’t laden with butter, salad not drenched in dressing, sweet potatoes, and cranberries are also options. You can also make other typical dishes healthier by changing the ingredients slightly. Try making mashed potatoes with reduced-fat or low-fat milk, yogurt or sour cream. Dips and spreads, same thing. Really think about the ingredients that you normally use and then think about how you can make the dish healthier. But, on that same note..

5. Enjoy what you love: We all have those certain dishes or items that just bring us back to childhood and make the holidays special. Go ahead, indulge! Be choosy about what you indulge in though. Don’t choose the pumpkin pie just because it is lower in fat than the pecan (which it is). If you want the pecan, choose the pecan! You don’t want to set yourself up for binges later. That one piece of pumpkin pie may not satisfy you, so you may have another when, really, you could have had just one piece of pecan and been completely satisfied. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays. Just enjoy with a sense of moderation. If you want to splurge on dessert, maybe you are a little more careful with your entrée choice.

6. Don’t try and start a new diet during the holidays: That just screams binge! You will only be setting yourself up for disappointment, resentment, and depression. You get that enough from your family members, you don’t need that from yourself. Stay healthy, but don’t be too restrictive.

7. Holidays are days: Yes, days.not weeks, not months, but days. Treat them that way. Enjoy yourself on the particular holiday, but then go right back to your normal healthy eating plan. Just because it’s the day before, the day before Christmas Eve, doesn’t mean it’s a holiday!

8. Take time for you: It goes without saying that this season is all about stress! Between trying to shop, worrying about what your Aunt Tilly is going to say about your new choice of career, trying to schedule in all your holiday parties along with your kids’ plays and concerts and still dealing with day-to-day stressors, it is important that you take some time for yourself. Schedule a massage, buy a new book, treat yourself to a yoga studio membership, learn to meditate, whatever. Find something that will curb your stress that is not eating! This is the EASIEST time to turn to food for comfort. There is a ton around and it is all super-indulgent. Give yourself another method to deal with stress; you more than deserve it!

9. Give (or ask for) the gift of health: Gym memberships, exercise equipment, athletic apparel or shoes, gift certificates to a spa or personal trainer, etc. There are many “health” related gifts that you can give or ask for that would help someone you love or yourself stay healthy all year long. It will give a great jump-start to those New Year’s Resolutions that we normally give up by February. Make a commitment to your body and teach others to do the same.

10. Eat, drink, and be Merry! It can’t be said enough. This is a season that is full of joy, love, and many good things if you let it be just that. Let your body and mind tell you what it needs, wants, and can do without. Live a little, but don’t go overboard if it is only going to make you miserable the next day. It is supposed to be fun and it will be if you stay true to yourself and your needs.

Copyright © Philip Lempert

Phil Lempert About Philip Lempert: An expert on consumer issues, marketing trends, new products and food safety, Lempert is a respected analyst with an uncanny ability to identify and explain trends to both industry and consumers in a thought provoking and entertaining manner. Known as the Supermarket Guru®, Lempert is the food trends editor for NBC News’ TODAY Show, founder and editor of SupermarketGuru.com and can be heard weekly as host of the syndicated radio show Shopping Smart®. He’s also a correspondent for BBC Radio’s 5 Live Program and is the author of several books including Being the Shopper: Understanding the Buyer’s Choices, Phil Lempert’s Supermarket Shopping & Value Guide. Phil is a member of the Advisory Board to the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington DC. For more food & diet tips check out Phil’s website: www.supermarketguru.com and be sure to sign up for your free fat diary at www.philsfatdiaries.com.