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Monday, November 26, 2012

How To Stay Fit Over the Holidays

Thanksgiving dinner menu

The holidays are all about eating—big dinners, piles of desserts work parties, LEFTOVERS. It’s so hard not to overeat when you’re constantly being bombarded with all sorts of delicious food. It’s not even like you have to go looking for it—it’s just there!

Think it’s impossible not to gain weight toward the end of the year? Read on for a few tips.

Pick your spots: This is so important. Some people have multiple family parties, work parties, get-togethers with friends, etc. If you eat everything you want at all these events, you’ll be sorry later. I choose where to indulge, and no, it’s not at every party. For me, I’d rather splurge a little at my big family dinners than anywhere else. So, at work parties I take very small portions and even avoid some of the calorie-laden options. At the office food seems to magically appear in the kitchen for all to partake—I just don’t take any. If you get tempted at the office, bring your own snacks or treats. If you can, just avoid the areas where food is set out so you don’t see what’s available.

Up your workouts: This might sound a little counterintuitive since the more you work out, the more you need to eat, but hear me out… When I am consistently going to the gym and putting in so much effort to strength train, I don’t have the desire to binge eat at holiday parties. If you make your fitness a priority, you won’t want to wreck all your work by overeating during the holidays. For me, working out more makes me want to eat healthy. If it’s not possible for you to work out more since it’s such a busy time of year, try to maintain what you’re already doing and squeeze in pockets of exercise at home.

Don’t skip meals: The worst thing you can do before a holiday party is not eat all day. I’ve done it before—I arrive to a Thanksgiving dinner not having eaten anything during the day and I overeat and pay for it later with an achy stomach. If you’re heading to a party in the afternoon or evening, get up and eat a breakfast high in protein. The protein will help you feel satisfied and you won’t have to go through a half day with a growling stomach.

Control your portions: When there are so many great food options at holiday parties, it’s hard not to take some of everything. When I make a plate at a holiday party, I take a small portion of all the foods I want to eat and choose one (yes, only one) dessert to have. This way you get a taste of almost everything that’s available. And if you do skip some side dishes (or desserts) during the meal, you can always take some home with you.

Limit your leftovers: Okay, so you made it through the meal by not overeating. Then before you leave your party you get handed a giant container full of leftovers. Now what? If you can, ask to pack your own leftovers so you can control how much food you’re taking home. If that’s not possible, ask to take home less food than your host is offering. If you’re the host, you can prevent having a mountain of leftovers by getting an accurate head count of who plans to attend your shindig and prepare enough food to serve everyone plus a small take-home bag for each person.

Indulge, a little: Though I try to eat healthy and maintain a good diet, it’s just not realistic for me to cut out every single kind of junk food. The more I tell myself I can’t eat something, the more I’m going to want to eat it. So, indulge just a little over the holidays. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and you shouldn’t totally deprive yourself. Just make sure you’re watching how much you eat and keeping up with your fitness routine.

Bottom line: Remember that it’s a lot easier to practice portion control and stay consistent with your workouts than it is to try to drop a few pounds after the holidays! 

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