With Labor Day behind us, the holiday season is quickly approaching. It is a time to celebrate with family and friends, enjoy life, and it poses many temptations to someone hoping to achieve a healthy lifestyle (Díaz-Zavala et al., 2017). Not only are the holidays coming up, but football season is here! Alcohol, chicken wings, pizza, and fatty foods galore are making their way to the tables of American homes during this time. Having a plan in place will help avoid overindulging but still allow you to fully enjoy the precious time you have to spend with family and friends. Below are some tips and tricks you can use to equip your toolbox for times when you may feel tempted and get ahead of the holiday game.
Tip 1- Plan Ahead
September is a great month to plan for the up and coming holiday season. It is close enough to have an idea of where you will be and what you will be doing but far enough away to get a solid game plan in place. Since time is usually limited during the holidays, September is a great month to get a jump on some extra time at the gym. All of the extra work put in during this month can help alleviate some of the potential weight gain involved during the holiday season. This is also a great time to set up your workout schedule for the upcoming months. Choose at least four days during the week when you will workout and mark them on the calendar. Writing down what you need to do to be successful will help you be compliant and stay on task. If you lift weights, figure out what body parts you will hit during these days. If you are an avid endurance runner, plan how many miles you will run on each day and at what pace. If you’re able to get some extra credit sessions in, go for it! Putting this plan in place can help you keep your commitment to fitness during the holiday season and set you up for success towards the end of the year.
Tip 2- Adopt a Fasting Routine
Not only can the holiday season put a damper on your waistline, but it can put a dent in your wallet too. One thing that can be done to keep you slim and some money in your pocket is intermittent fasting. There are several ways to do this which you can read more about on my blog (Intermittent Fasting 101); however, even just a 24-hour fast, one day a week could save you a ton of calories. In the case that you do overindulge or miss a workout, a 24-hour fast could reverse the damage and help you stay fit during this time. The great thing is that it doesn’t require any time to prep and it doesn’t cost a dime!
Tip 3- Beef Up Your Vegetables
While fatty food may sound tempting, it is not going to help you achieve a fit physique. Almost every type of junk food has a healthy replacement. For the chicken wing fan like myself, a healthy buffalo chicken salad can be used as a substitute. Are you more of a dessert person? Ditch the milk shake and try a chocolate banana protein shake instead! Pinterest and Google are both excellent resources for meal substitutions. If you are craving something in particular, just type “low calorie (insert desired food here)” into the search bar and tons of replacements will appear at your finger tips!
While these are great searching tools, use caution with these recipes and ensure they are well balanced. Substitutions that use veggies as a replacement are usually a green light! This way you don’t have to sacrifice on the taste but still get to enjoy your healthy lifestyle! Eating a lot of vegetables is an excellent way to keep you full while eating fewer calories. Having a large variety of vegetables to snack on versus a ton of chips at the next football game will help keep your waistline in check.
Tip 4- Don’t Drink Your Calories
Drinking caloric beverages contributes to a significant increase in daily calories. Cutting out soda, fruit juices, and alcohol can help keep weight under control especially during the holiday season. Abstaining from alcohol during the holidays is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are things you can do to limit the number of calories you are taking in. First, sticking to only one or two drinks will help from stacking on the calories. Second, try sticking to liquor with soda water or liquor with just plain water and lemon. Liquor typically has about 70-80 calories per serving compared to a beer or glass of wine which has about 120-130 calories per serving.
These simple tips can make a huge difference this holiday season. It is so easy to overindulge with so many social gatherings and temptations around. Planning ahead and following these few easy suggestions will help you stay on track and be ready to come up with a different resolution for next year!
Díaz-Zavala, R. G., Castro-Cantú, M. F., Valencia, M. E., Álvarez-Hernández, G., Haby, M. M., & Esparza-Romero, J. (2017). Effect of the holiday season on weight gain: A narrative review. Journal of Obesity, 2017, 1-13. doi:10.1155/2017/2085136