Gaining an extra few pounds during the holidays isn’t difficult. Thanks to heavier meals and a skyrocketed alcohol intake from a full calendar of holiday parties, what’s tasty at the time equals a softer core later. Don’t step on the scale New Years Day to see an extra five pounds on top of the 10 you wanted to lose for your resolution. Follow these easy tips from nutritionist Mike Roussell, PhD, to stay trim through the holidays.
1. Schedule in exercise, and stick to it.
During the holidays, exercise tends to be the first activity dropped from a busy schedule, says Roussell. To avoid this, schedule in your exercise just like you would any normal meeting or event. “If it’s in your calendar, you know when and how you will get in that exercise,” he says. Stay active with outdoor winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, or even sledding (yeah, it takes work to climb back up the hill). Or if you're not a fan of snow, buy some ass-kicking boot camp sessions at your gym.
2. Be wary of alcohol.
“Alcohol puts the brakes on fat loss,” says Roussell. Mixed drinks loaded with carbs and sugars will put back on what you burned at the gym in a heartbeat. But, because drinking (hopefully) occurs in a social setting, it can feel weird to not order a drink. Get your first one, sip slowly, and then switch to a club soda with lime on your second order — no one will know it’s vodka-free. The added bonus to drinking slowly: you won’t risk getting tipsy and reaching for fatty foods, or overeating, both of which you’ll likely feel bad about the next morning.
3. Weigh yourself daily.
People who weigh themselves daily have better control over maintaining or losing weight. “A lot of people step on the scale on January 1st and are mortified,” says Roussell. “By weighing yourself everyday, you stay accountable and recognize what’s going on.” Even though you’ll fluctuate give or take a pound or two, you’ll notice patterns of increase and be able to reign in your eating habits before they get out of control.
4. Choose the right party foods.
Most party foods are refined grains or simple carbohydrates, says Roussell. Instead of reaching for snack mix, choose low-cal veggies or protein-packed shrimp cocktails. Eat a salad or broth-based soup before attending a holiday event so you can feel full (and avoid diving into the buffet head first). At a sit down dinner, fill up on meat and roasted veggies, first, before the carb-heavy mash potatoes and dinner rolls. Have a sweet tooth? Opt for pumpkin pie, which tends to be lower in calories than most other desserts.
5. Stock up on nutritional back-up snacks.
Keep healthy snacks in your car or at your office so you don’t feel hungry. Look for protein-rich foods like unsalted almonds or beef jerky for easy, grab-and-go options. Also, load your shelves with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can’t find produce in supermarkets. Go for kale, rich with antioxidants for detoxing your body throughout the holidays, and apples and oranges with Vitamin C to boost your immune system.
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