Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It means spending time with family, reconnecting with loved ones, remembering the blessings in life that we’ve been gifted, and eating – lots and lots of eating for the occasion and continuing onwards for the next 3 months. Thanksgiving is like the kick-off to the holiday season socializing bonanza that ends in the New Year – that unrelenting stretch of party after party with seemingly unlimited access to food and drink. The bloated social calendar means lots of alcohol, finger foods, big meals and desserts which add up to a thicker waistline, a plumper rear-end and inevitably tighter fitting clothes. These harsh realities often mean stepping up a size or two on your next shopping excursion or remain in denial and battle with the bulges and tight-fit discomfort. Although the risk of that extra 5 to 10lbs is coming, and possibly tacked on to the gains you never managed to shed from last year’s stretch, there IS something you can do to avoid the gains. Here are 8 ways to plan ahead to counter the bingeing.
1. Serve Yourself from a Smaller Sized Plate. A smaller plate means less surface area to fill with all the yumminess in front of you. If you don’t have enough willpower to control your portions, the smaller real estate will provide adequate support.
2. Learn About the Number of Calories You’ll Be Around. If you know how many calories there are in some of the types of foods and snacks you’ll be offered, you may think twice about how you choose to eat. And be aware of the calories that are often overlooked – they like to hide in more than just dessert. For example, you may know that a bottle of Heineken has almost 150 calories but did you know the count for a Rum & Coke (143 cal), Cosmo (218 cal), or a Long Island Ice Tea (218 cal). Mixed drinks often come with a high caloric count because of the sugar-rich chasers so consider an “on the rocks” serving or chasing with just water (or at least dilute the sugary chaser). Also, follow up each drink with a glass of water – it will likely fill you up faster and reduce the overall amount of alcohol you throw back.
3. Dish out Greens and Veggies First! By starting to fill your plate with greens first, you leave less room for everything else.
4. Skip the Second Serving. After you eat, take your plate to the sink. If you leave it in front of you while you chat, it’s only a matter of time before someone will pass by asking if you’d like more or you may feel the need to reward yourself with seconds after enduring that long and boring story about that “whatever it is” delivered by the person sitting next to you. And although highly unlikely, if you have some lingering hunger pains, don’t worry because dessert is just around the corner.
5. Don’t Arrive Starving. It’s a proven fact that you should NOT go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because you’ll overspend. If you’re heading to a get together on an empty stomach, it’s a guaranteed recipe for over-eating. So maintain your regular eating routine before the big family dinner – have a generous lunch and even grab an afternoon snack before the “big eat”.
6. Maintain your exercise routine. Just because the holidays are here it doesn’t mean you need to take a break from exercise. If your normal routine is to exercise in the evening, change to a morning workout if your social calendar is going to be filled with after-work get-togethers.
7. Allow yourself some leeway for a missed workout or two. Just because you miss one or two workouts, it doesn’t mean it’s all falling apart and you should just give up and stop. Quickly forgive yourself for the missed session(s) and simply continue – tomorrow is always a new day.
8. Start Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution Before the Holidays. Instead of waiting until the New Year to begin your fitness goals, start in October. Beginning a new exercise routine before the “socializing stretch” is a sure fire way to acquire restraint. If you’re feeling good about yourself after losing a couple of pounds, you’ll be less likely to indulge because you’ll want to hold on to your healthy-living momentum.
If you plan ahead and fill yourself with the right information you’ll be able to manage your temptations head instead of letting them get out of hand. And remember the simplest option is always restraint; eating less isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift to you. Wouldn’t it be awesome to get exit the holiday stretch the same way you came into it. Best of luck!
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