Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to survive the holidays - well at least your figure

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, even if you aren't talking about your waistline. Both of our immediate families (and a lot of my extended family) are in town, so it can get very crazy just trying to see everyone. But then when you throw in there that you want to maintain your weight through the holidays, now it's just insane. Here are my 4 rules for the holidays.

Don't skip your workouts!!!

This is one I am struggling with this year because I now have a little one. But I do remember a couple of years ago before trying to conceiving and being pregnant, when I had to get up early or squeeze gym time in during lunch to get all my workouts in for the week. There are a lot more parties this time of year and it's easy to skip your spin class to go to a cocktail party. But that is the worst thing you can do. You are not only not working out, but you are mostly likely going to eat more than you would if you were cooking at home. So whatever you do, make sure you are working out the same amount during this holiday season.

It's a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK (or month).

I would never advocate for you to eat celery sticks on Thanksgiving, but I would also never advocate to consume leftover pecan pie and sweet potatoes covered in butter, brown sugar and marshmellows for days on end. Yes, Thanksgiving is fun and the food is delicious, so enjoy, but don't over indulge. I always start to fill my plate with the veggies first. Then I start to fill in the rest of my plate with the not so healthy dishes. Once my plate is full, I start eating. No more room on the plate. I also don't get seconds. Nope! Don't need it (and I ran a half marathon last Thanksgiving). :) When it comes to dessert (my favorite part of the meal), enjoy your favorite dessert, but just one. Thanksgiving does not mean you can have one piece of pumpkin pie, one piece of apple pie, and a collection of cookies. No, shockingly it doesn't. If you are someone who likes to try everything (I am one of those people), then share with your spouse, friend, relative, etc. You each get one dessert and split them both. See, easy! Now, the big way to survive Thanksgiving (or any big holiday), is to give away the leftovers. Now, if you want to save the salad you made, fine, but give away the apple pie. I love apple pie and usually make it for at least one holiday meal, but I always give away the leftovers. I enjoy it that day, but that is it. I go back to my regular meals the next day (and apple pie is never one my daily menus). The problem with holiday weight gain is never the day of over indulging, it's when you get those decadent dishes for a whole week, that is the problem. So enjoy your meal, but remember it's just ONE meal.

The trick to surviving party after party is portions.

So this past week I had 2 parties on the same day, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Yikes! I was not looking forward to it. How was I going to stay on track when I was having mexican for lunch and going to a wing place for dinner (even though I don't eat meat, there is not a lot of healthy fare at a wing place). So here is how you survive, portion control. I had a small, healthy breakfast that morning (small bowl of low sugar cereal and some skim milk). Luckily, at the mexican restaurant, they had a lunch menu. The nice thing about lunch menus are they are typically smaller portions than the dinner menu options. So my portion was going to be better. Now, you don't have to do the celery sticks again (now this is to maintain, not lose weight over the holidays), but try for something healthful. I ended up getting the shrimp salad salad. It came with sauteed shrimp (not grilled, but not fried either), avocado (good fat), cheese (yeah, there was a good amount of cheese, but no salad dressing, so I kept all the cheese on there), and the typical veggies. It was very tasty and I left full. Yes, I did have some cheese and salsa, but not a ton. Ok, one party done. Ok, so the rest of the day I sipped on water, tea, coffee, etc. No snacking! I typically eat 3 meals and 1-2 snacks a day, but when I eat out, I know that I am inhaling more calories than I typically do so I don't need the snacks. And I wasn't hungry. So then I went to the wing place for party #2 and I had 1 Guiness draft beer (surprisingly Guiness beer is a low calorie full body beer) and buffalo shrimp. Yes, the shrimp were fried, but came there were only 10 (I ate 9 because my dad wanted to try it) and it came with celery and carrots and blue cheese dressing. Yes, it was not the healthiest thing on the menu but the portion was controlled and that was all I ate. That night when I got home, no ice cream for me. I had had enough calories. :)

Now, I am not saying no snacks ever. I know there are a lot of people that advocate eating a piece of string cheese or some almonds before a party, and if you are starving, then yes, definitely eat something before you walk out of the door. I was not starving and sipping on the beer when I got there took the edge off. But after eating a mexican shrimp salad, I didn't need my yogurt and granola that I typically eat for a late afternoon snack. My salad was probably at least 250 calories more than I typically eat for lunch.

Find low calorie holiday treats!

I find it's more difficult to drink 64oz. of water in the winter than in the summer months. I do not feel like my body is asking for lots of water when I am bundled up. But I also know that it's important keep those liquids going in to keep my feeling full. So during the holiday months, I will treat myself to an afternoon coffee with skim milk. I know what you are thinking, really, that is a treat for you. Yes, it is. Because I live in the deep south, I don't want coffee typically in the afternoons, it's too hot. I would always say no coffee past noon, and that's my typical rule. Also, in order to drink 64oz. of water a day, I can't also drink 30oz. of coffee. I know some people can drink that much, but I can't drink that much of anything. So when I am not in the water drinking mood, I might spring for a late afternoon coffee. Now that is a treat, because coffee is probably my favorite food in the world. I love coffee. I used to think it was the caffeine but once Adam and I figured out we had issues conceiving, I went cold turkey on caffeine and still loved coffee, even decaf. So it is not the caffeine, it's the taste. Yum! So for me an afternoon coffee can help soothe my cravings for minimal calories when I am having big meals and don't need to be snacking. You just have to find out what works for you.

Wow, that's a lot of writing, and it's the abridged version. That is my holiday survival guide in a nut shell. Happy Holidays everyone!

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