So here it is, 70 degrees in December. It makes going to all these holiday parties seem silly. But we are discussing this a lot at work this time of year (I work in the weight loss setting), so here are my nuggets of wisdom. Take it or leave it. Maybe one tip will really help you feel successful and not guilty this season.
But, people still make all sorts of goodies that you shouldn’t eat, and don’t even realize it. So here’s my tips of advice:
1. Watch your alcohol intake.Not only is alcohol empty calories (about 150 cals for a regular beer, more for a darker/fuller beer, and usually about 90 for a light beer), but it lowers your inhibition, and makes your brain crave fatty goodness to restore its GABA levels.
2. Plan your indulgences. We all have our weaknesses- maybe it’s grandma’s derby pie, maybe it’s your mother-in-law’s squash casserole. If you plan out what you omigod-have-to-have, then you can develop a game plan. When you look down at your plate, at least 50% of it should be filled with healthy (and filling foods- vegetables, lean protein, etc).
3. The three-bite rule.This one is new to me, but I’ve been practicing it for years, without realizing. This only applies to “bad” foods (high-fat, high-sugar, high-carb), not healthy foods. If after three bites you don’t love it, don’t finish it. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy something fatty? For instance, I hate the “traditional” green beans (canned green beans, covered with cream of mushroom soup, then a layer of fried onions… And they’re not good for you). If you are going to a house where this seems to be improper etiquette, take only a few spoonfuls of each for your plate, then go back for seconds (ie, a real serving) after you have decided which foods you like best.
4. Bring your own dish.This may or may not be possible, depending on your holiday situation. But ask the host/hostess if there’s anything you can bring (a few days in advance). They usually say “Oh nothing”, so then ask if they know what they are serving yet. If you notice they don’t have green beans, reply by saying something like “Oh! I love green beans. Do you mind if I bring my own recipe? …It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without them…” This will also make you more likely to eat them, since you are claiming you love them. And vegetables covered in a creamy sauce, or deep-fried no longer count as vegetables… Just adding some italian dressing, and mixing up the veggies, and throwing in the oven for 5-10 minutes can make a delicious dish!
5. Be as active as possible. Even if this means you and your hubby go for a 10 minute walk after dinner. It can be a great family tradition, and aids in metabolizing your food. Include others in your activity, so it can be a family tradition (maybe even playing football, or walking through the neighborhood looking at everyone’s lights, or a bike ride through the old part of town… If you have an athletic family, maybe every does a timed stair climb to see who can go up and down the most stairs in five minutes, while the ham is cooking). There are so many ideas, and so many things you can do, aside from watch TV with your family.
6. Drink lots of water. This can also be a great practice in etiquette, as it requires you to go in and out of the kitchen frequently to re-fill the water, and you can always socialize with the host, and ask if they need help if they look busy when you pop in 🙂
7. Just maintain.Although a lot of people want to lose weight, or adopt new behaviors this time of year, research shows it’s actually best to maintain your weight loss (or running mileage), as you are changing your environment. People who are successful in the long run, actually plan to maintain their weight from Halloween to the New Year, as opposed to those who have lofty ideas of starting the new year 20 lbs. lighter.
8. Be assertive. If your weight is important to you (or your diet, or your running), tell others around you. When they mock you for waking up at 6am (and going to bed at 10pm), so you can get in a run before the festivities begin, stand up for yourself and your routine. If you explain why running is important, they are more likely to appreciate why you are making time for it. And once you assert why it is important, you will be more likely to follow-through the following morning.
9. No “yolo”. (yolo= you only live once) Although this is true, you will likely have several events to go to, and if you fall into the “it’s just one slice of cake” at the first party, then you are much more likely to fall into those thoughts at the next 10 parties you have to go to. And that’s easily 3500 extra calories (3500 calories= 1 lb). So one cake, not bad; 10 cakes = an extra pound. Fortunately, you probably will live to see that extra pound if you eat the 10 slices of cake… 🙂
10. Forgive yourself.If you do slip, and have 4 slices of pie one night (Can you tell my vice is dessert?)… It will be okay. You don’t have to scrap the whole holiday season, or even that weekend of events. Just keep moving as you had before your slip.
Good luck everyone! Whether you are trying to lose weight, or training for a marathon (or your first 5K), think about those goals. You’ll still have to face them in January! 🙂