Every year when the holidays roll around, I come across those articles giving advice on how to avoid holiday weight gain. And most of those articles are met with a series of eye rolls and a few, “Are they serious?” kind of thoughts. I don’t know if the people writing these articles have actually ever struggled with weight, but anyone telling a weight conscious foodie to skip the eggnog in lieu of a skim hot cocoa is certifiably insane.
First of all, it’s the holidays (which come around once a year) and asking me to swap out my holiday favorites for “healthier” options is a total violation of the very word (holiday) itself…a reprieve from everyday life! Heeello!
Secondly, I don’t believe in deprivation, so this is where a balanced lifestyle comes into play. If you’re dealing with serious health issues regarding your weight, then you’re in another boat altogether, and probably should heed the advice in those articles. But if you’re simply trying to stay on track with your weight, then really… what’s the harm in actually enjoying those rare holiday treats and dishes?
Last year was probably the first holiday season in my adult life that I actually didn’t gain a single pound. Here are some of practical strategies I’ve used to stave off the holiday pounds.
1. Obey the Belly
No binging allowed people…ever. Yes, it’s the holidays, and yes…you should have that slice of pecan pie if you want it. But this being a special time of year does not give you a license to overeat. Continue to listen to your body, chow down when you’re actually hungry, and resist the urge to take “just one more bite” when you know you should’ve been done two bites ago.
2. Whatever You Do…Do Not Wear Sweat Pants
…or leggings, or anything with an elastic waistband for that matter. There’s seriously no better way to keep your feasting in check than when your jeans start to get a little too tight for comfort. And if you have to loosen that belt even a notch, you’ve gone too far my friend. Step away from the table…
3. Savor Every Bite
And by that, I mean slow waaaay down, relish in the rich holidayesque flavors of your meal, and enjoy every. single. bite. Besides taking the time to actually appreciate the amazingness of your food, two things are accomplished here: for one, the slower you eat, the more time your brain has to catch up with your fork and send the “I’m full” signal to your belly. Two, you’ll consequently consume less food, which means less calories, which means less of a chance for weight gain.
4. First We Work, Then We Eat Protein
You might have to step out of fitness comfort zone during the holidays. I, for one, can’t stand morning workouts, and I’m the last person who’ll tell you that working out in the morning is a must…except for right now. Holidays are a special case; with more of the family around, gift shopping, party planning, etc. the possibility of your workout plans getting wrecked will skyrocket. Sooo… morning workouts are kind of a necessary evil.
You can’t be skipping workouts around the holidays and expect not to gain any weight. So get up and work it out before the day has to time to consume you. And for those of you who are like, “pshh… I’ve got the discipline to get my daily workout in regardless”, just think about this: Do you really wanna work up an appetite right before a holiday feast? Not if you’re trying to keep the pounds away…
So when you’re done with your morning sweat sesh, grab a high-protein breakfast like some scrambled eggs or a greek yogurt parfait. It’ll jump start your metabolism, keep you fuller throughout the day, and keep the munchies away.
Powerhouse Granola with greek yogurt makes an awesome high-protein breakfast
5. Drink a Butt Load of Water
It’s simple, but you know it’ll be effective. Those sugar cookies aren’t gonna look quite as appealing If you’re satiated from a protein-packed breakfast and belly full of water. So if you don’t have a water bottle to tote around, now’s the time to get one.
Got any more clever ways to avoid holiday weight gain? Drop your tricks in the comments!