Does anyone else revert back to their 14 year old self when they go home for the holidays? For me that used to include copious amounts of tortilla chips, frosted flakes cereal and cosmic brownies. After Christmas day, I would head back to Grand Rapids from my parents house tweaked out on sugar and physically drained from the stress. After 10 days I would start to feel normal again, but then you start to mix in work NYE parties, reunions with friends and in general almost two months of "cheat days" and just being too busy to work out, you end up feeling gross. I was sick of it, so two years ago I switched things up and now the holidays don't necessarily set me back 6 months on my diet and fitness goals.
In a recent Consumers Report Survey, holiday weight gain raked second for what people most dread about the holidays, so Tina and I have compiled a list of our top 10 tips for surviving the holidays. We're covering topics from how to navigate the food table at a work party to what to eat before going out. We'd love to hear your tips too, leave them in the comments below!
1. Be that person, that brings healthy food to the table. There is no shortage of cookies, candy canes or chocolates at this time of the year, and sure you may get a few snide comments from co-workers about your veggie platter, but in the back of their minds they're thanking you! Plus, if you bring something healthy then you always know that there is at least one, non-candy coated option available for you to snack on!
2. Don't go to a party on an empty stomach. Don't go to a party expecting to make a meal out of "light appetizers and spirits." We all know that that means cheese dips, crackers and cubes of room temperature sausage and ain't nobody got time for that! Eat a full meal 1-2 hrs before heading out, and be sure to drink plenty of water too, you'll feel fuller and won't be as tempted to over indulge. At the party don't make the bowl of M&M's home-base either, pick a space away from the food table and away from the snacks to call home while you're there.
3. Travel Snacks will save you. Holiday travel either means airport food or fast food, but it doesn't have to. Every year I stock up on a few of my favorite healthy snacks before heading out; carrots, date balls, dried fruits and nuts. I even make a wrap or sandwich for the plane/car too if I know I'm going to be on the road or in the air for more than a few hours. It takes a little extra prep working but it saves you from lots of empty calories and from foods that will make you feel tired and sluggish.
4. 1, 2, 3... 1, 2, 3, DRINK. Everything in moderation, and most people don't realize just how many calories or how much sugar is contained in your adult beverages. It's easy to get caught up in the festivities and loose track of just how much you've consumed on any given night. 1. Try your best to keep track of how many drinks you consume.
2. Remember to drink plenty of water, after every drink you have alternate with a large glass of water, not only does it slow you down from downing another beer or martini but you'll thank yourself in the morning. Christmas day hangovers are the worst! 3. Instead of bringing a bottle of wine or a 6-pack of beer try bringing your favorite juice or even just a bottle of coconut water.
5. Plan healthier menus. If you're hosting the holiday meal, you're in total control over what you serve your guests. Skip the brown sugar and marshmallow covered sweet potatoes and opt for a healthier option. Remember our free Thanksgiving meal plan? Use that as inspiration for other holidays too, and veggie load each course of the meal!
6. Let go of perfection. In our minds we all have this idea that we'll be the golden example of healthy living, even during the holidays and the truth is that it is near impossible to stay on course 100%.... and thanks okay! Indulging a little won't ruin your life, if you miss a work out... the world isn't over. We create a lot of excess stress in our lives when we hold on to this idea of perfection, learning to let go and just flow with the ups and downs of a situation will help keep you grounded. Plus added stress means stress eating for a lot of us, so don't do that to yourself.
7. Know your schedule and plan ahead. If you workout on the regular but due to the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, food prep and cleaning, you feel that there are just not enough hours in the day to get your workout in, then just shorten it. Instead of doing a full 45-60 min. circuit at the gym try sneaking away for just 10-20 minutes, any exercise is better than none. If you can't even sneak away for a short time, then mix workout moves into your daily life, do a few push ups in between chores, do walking lunges from room to room. You'll look goofy, get over it! These little bursts of exercises will help you burn calories and feel better. A few of my favorites are doing 20 calf raises on the stairs before going up them each time, or while I'm cooking I throw in some triceps dips using the counter as my bench. Get your kids to join in too if you have them, make it a game.
8. Get more sleep. It's hard I know. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep (I'm talking 7-8 hours a night) is already a struggle for a lot of us on a daily basis but getting that much sleep during the holidays is even harder. Lack of sleep makes the body more insulin resistant, it also makes us crave more carbohydrate heavy foods and reduces your will power, which translates into way too many servings of mashed potatoes and/or cookies. Set a bedtime for yourself and try your hardest to stick to a schedule
9. Look for healthier ingredients to replace the bad ones. We love to "Voeden-ize" our favorite meals by looking at the ingredients in any given dish and then finding healthy alternative for the bad ones. For example, instead of using heavy cream in soup try using coconut milk. Simple fixes like swapping out white rice for brown rice or quinoa will make huge nutritional differences without compromising the essence or the flavor of the dish. If you're not sure what makes a good substitution just email us or leave us a comment on our Facebook page and we'll answer back as soon as possible!
10. Don't change your healthy eating habits. If you eat on the same schedule every day, continue to do that! Don't skip a meal in anticipation for a huge holiday feast, if you do you're far more likely to over indulge in bad foods and you'll notice the impacts of over eating right away. You'll actually find that if you stay on your regular eating schedule you will eat less food at these holiday 'events'.