November 19, 2012 by mybattlebuddyfitness
It’s that time of year again. For the next 8 weeks, we will all make ourselves crazy with social obligations. There are work parties, happy hours, weekend shindigs, and the list goes on. It’s no wonder that we typically wake up on New Year’s Day and want to throw the scale out the window! The average weight gain over the holidays is 1.5 pounds, which is significant considering that the average adult gains about 2 pounds every year. This means that 75% of the yearly weight gain comes in the final 8 weeks of the year. That’s insane. Imagine if you armed yourself with a game plan going into the holidays…You could potentially come out totally unscathed. If you arm yourself with the proper knowledge and tools, you will wake up on January 1st ready to take on the new year- not a single pound heavier than you were the year before.
Last week, I was reminded how difficult it can be to navigate these social gatherings when I attended a dinner BBQ for my husband’s work. First of all, the event was planned by a group of men. Now let’s be honest here, men are good at many things- party planning is NOT typically one of them. The main dish was smoked chicken, which isn’t bad from a health standpoint. The side dishes, however, were tragic. There were baked beans, two different versions of potato salad (both of which were so drenched in mayonnaise that the potatoes were unrecognizable), pickles, and potato chips. No veggies, no fruits, and nothing that wasn’t processed a million times over. Luckily, I came prepared! I ate a great snack of carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, red pepper, and hummus and side of fresh grapes right before I left the house…phew! I filled my plate up with smoked chicken and a couple of pickles and called it good. I had carefully followed my holiday game plan, and it really paid off.
So what is this amazing game plan, you ask? Here it is…Your holiday survival guide:
(1) I think if I could offer only one tip to you, it is this: NEVER go to a party hungry. Unless you know that there will be healthy options for you to eat, you will undoubtedly make poor choices if you arrive hungry. If you are looking down a buffet table filled with empty carbs and sugary goodness when you are hungry, then you will be relying on sheer willpower to make the right choice. If you are one of those who enjoys punshing themself, then this will be a good tactic for you.
I recommend that you take a few minutes before you leave for your party to prepare and eat a healthy snack. Don’t stuff yourself, just eat enough so that you aren’t hungry. This way you can eat a small amount at the party, and not look like a party pooper with an empty plate, but still make a healthy choice. I think we can all agree that those weird, processed muffins and greasy chips look a lot less appealing when we aren’t ravenously hungry.
(2) Fill your plate up with fruit and veggies! This is a tip you’ve probably heard before. I’m telling you, this one is golden. Any time I go on vacation and find myself at a buffet (which inevitably happens at least once), I follow this golden rule. While everyone else dives into the cheesy eggs and bacon and oily potatoes, I load my plate with fruit and veggies. After I eat the plate of good stuff, if I am still hungry, then I go back and put a few things that aren’t ridiculous on my plate. Again, all that crummy food will look a lot less appealing if you aren’t looking at it with hungry eyes (cue the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, please).
(3) Make sure to get your workout in, even if it’s a short one. I know that the holidays typically mean a lot of travel for many people. I also know that working out while traveling is particularly challenging. You MUST make time for your workouts. There is no way around this one. When you workout, you make better nutritional choices- it’s a fact, they both go hand-in-hand.
So what do you do when you find yourself in a different city/town that doesn’t have your regular gym? What if it’s cold and snowy and there’s no way you’re going out there for your jog? I have an easy solution. Bring your favorite workout DVD with you on the road. I’m sure your family will understand when you tell them that you need the TV for 45 minutes to do your workout. Who knows? You may even inspire a couple of them to join you. The workout DVD is a great back-up plan. My favorite DVD to bring on the road with me is Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. You don’t need any equipment and it’s a great workout- I typically burn around 450-500 calories, which isn’t bad for a vacation workout.
If you’re super opposed to doing a workout video, then I would look into a day/week pass to a local gym. Some gyms have pretty steep rates for day passes, so you may want to tell them exactly how long you will be in town–they will typically give you a better deal. Try one of their classes. You might find something that you really enjoy.
(4) Keep the booze consumption light. This one is simple. I am the first to admit that I almost always have a cocktail in my hand at a social gathering. It’s sort of like a comfort blanket for me. Even if I know everyone and I’m totally comfortable, there’s something about having that little friend in my hand. So, if you are like me, and you enjoy imbibing at these events, stick to red wine or clear liquor. These days, my drink of choice is vodka and club soda with extra lime. It’s a drink that I don’t find particularly enjoyable, which means that I won’t drink too many of them. Given the choice, I’d choose a delicious amber or Belgian beer any day of the week. But, sadly I can never stop at just one of those, so I try and avoid them except on really special occasions.
I know myself well enough now to know that unless I have a particulcarly compelling reason not to, I will always have more than one drink. I have found that volunteering myself to be the designated driver is a great choice for me. It means that I definitely won’t have more than one drink, and I get to decide when we leave, AND I won’t overeat because I’m tipsy, AND I will wake up the next day feeling great. Win-win-win-win.
(5) Remind yourself that it’s okay to have a little bit of those special holiday treats. I grew up in a house where holiday baking was a sport. My mom and I would spend hours in the kitchen preparing enough sweet treats to keep an army of ants happy for years. It was a tradition and it was my favorite part of the holiday season. There was fuddyman, sunbuckles, divinity, fudge, peanut butter balls, thumbprint cookies, peppermint bark, russian teacakes, mini pecan pies, and on and on. The countertops were stacked high with Christmas tins filled with treats. Each night, I would load up my little plate with a handful of these sugary goodies to eat before I went to sleep. As an adult, I know that I cannot continue this tradition. I know that I can’t be trusted to have all these sugary treats in the house and not eat them! My husband isn’t big on sweets, which means that any sugary objects that come into the house will inevitably be consumed by me.
It has taken me many years, but I have learned a good compromise. Each year I pick one of those traditional holiday goodies and make it. Provided I have eaten well and done a good workout, I allow myself to eat one of these holiday goodies each night. This way I am still able to re-live my childhood and get my happy sugary time, without overdoing it. I think it’s unrealistic and totally not fun to tell yourself that you aren’t going to indulge in ANY of the special holiday foods. You have to find a balance. It’s okay to have a little. Those first bites are always the best anyway…
Hopefully these little tips will help you navigate through your holiday gatherings. Remember to take a minute and have a little self-talk before you arrive. Review your game plan, check-in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. I promise that if you go into the holidays with a plan, you will come out on the other side ready to put your best foot forward into the new year.