It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Not necessarily. In fact, if you have fitness goals, this is probably the most difficult time of the year. Even if you are keeping gatherings small this year, lots of us still want to have some version of our usual traditions. Which means it’s still easy to have extra sweets, treats, and leftovers sitting in your fridge and pantry, just waiting to be consumed. How can you enjoy yourself and still keep your eye on the prize? Here are a few tips to help you stay in control:
1. Do the cooking yourself
If you want to control what you (and everyone else) are eating, take control. Plan the menu, get in the kitchen and do the cooking yourself. Simple foods like roasted meats and vegetables tossed with fresh herbs, olive oil, and garlic are not only healthier, but delicious, and real crowd-pleasers (not that we’re having big crowds this year, but you get the idea). You might also be surprised by who will appreciate you for taking on the task. Not hosting? Help out by bringing your favorite healthy side dish or appetizer.
2. Keep your portions in check
Weigh and/or measure your food anytime you can, in order to stay in control of your portions. If you don’t have the ability to measure, eyeball it the best you can. Always grab a small plate, take what you are going to eat, and step away from the buffet. And stay away. You don’t need seconds. Especially if there is more food (dessert!) to come.
3. Alternate your drinks
Alternate every other alcoholic drink with a glass of water. You’ll cut back on useless calories and (hopefully) not get drunk.
4. When you are done with it, throw it away
I am all for repurposing leftovers and not wasting food (we have a ‘Food Network Chopped’, type challenge in our house every year after Thanksgiving!). For food safety purposes alone, leftovers shouldn’t be kept around for more than 4 days, anyway. When you are done, just get rid of it. You can’t eat it if it’s gone!
5. Pick a couple of things that are worth the treat
If your mom’s famous homemade bread only comes around once or twice a year, have some. If you look forward to pumpkin pie every year, take a slice. Think about the holiday traditions that you love that are specific to the holiday. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% good-for-you stuff, 20% treats. This works for holidays, too. Limit to just a couple of things you wouldn’t want to miss out on and treat yourself.
6. If you’re not a fan, skip it
Don’t care for stuffing all that much? Could you live without cookies? Who says you have to have it just because someone made it and it’s there? If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
7. Move your body
Keep up with your workouts. Take a walk with the family after dinner. Turn on some fun holiday music and have a dance party. With all the sitting around and eating that typically happens during the holidays, moving your body is especially important. Both your body and your mind will feel a lot better if you get some exercise.
8. Always get back on the horse
Once it’s over, it doesn’t matter how much you ate and drank. It’s in the past now. Leave it there and move on. Get right back to your healthy habits as soon as you possibly can.
The holidays don’t have to completely derail your fitness. Keep your healthy habits in mind and you won’t overdo it. Stay focused, allow a treat or two, and you won’t miss out on the fun or your goals.