This is it, people. Get ready. We are entering five-alarm, high-alert, all-hands-on-deck weight-gain season. Buckle up, because just like every year, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
You are about to be bombarded with temptation after ooey-gooey temptation, designed to test your will, your resolve and the waistband of your favorite jeans. You won’t be safe anywhere: not at work, with friends, not even in your own home. Even your family cannot be trusted.
You can, however, come out of the holiday season and enter the New Year healthier and happier than ever. You, yes, you, can say no to food pushers and just-one-won’t-hurters with poise and grace. You, YOU!, can keep a consistent exercise routine even when the winter blues and holiday stress threaten to keep you sedentary. How, you ask? How do you develop this protective shield that junk food and laziness cannot penetrate? By arming yourself with an escape plan, an eject button or an effective stiff arm. On second thought, don’t do that. Grandma means well with her famous sweet potato pie; you don’t need to lay her out.
Pack a few of the following tips away in your healthy habit arsenal to use when the time is just right and protect yourself from enemies threatening to fill your bowl full of jelly!
17 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1. Remember to breathe. It’s the holidays—it’s supposed to be a FUN time. Stress and anxiety are just as much hazards to your health as skipping a workout, so take some time to destress. Start a book, take a yoga class or soak in a bubble bath; do whatever soothes your soul.
2. Learn to say no. You don’t have to go to every single party. Prioritize to avoid overextending yourself and to cut down on those “special occasions” we use to excuse splurges. Which reminds me…
3. Remember that the holidays themselves, which are really only three to four days, are the special occasions where you can treat yourself. The entire holiday season, which lasts months, isn’t a free pass.
4. Get plenty of sleep. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep every night. It may sound impossible, but your metabolism, your energy level and your loved ones will thank you.
5. “Treat” others like you would want to be “treated.” You have to give everyone and their brother a gift: your hairdresser, the host of every party you attend, your boss, babysitter, etc. and the easiest and cheapest thing is a plate of cookies or breads. Stop the vicious cycle: you don’t want cookies, so why give them to someone else? Set an example by making something healthy, but still delicious, like seasoned nuts or homemade granola. Not only are you keeping the crap out of your house, lessening your chances of munching on a few, but you’ll also show those closest to you that you care about their health as much as your own.
6. Regift tins of cookies, brownies and candies. When you get a generic tin of cookies or the much-feared fruit cake from the dear old lady down the street, say thank you, then give them to your mailman. Or the lady that cuts your dog’s toenails. It’s not rude; it’s being frugal, and they probably regifted them to you in the first place.
7. Bring your own healthy dish to every party/potluck/random excuse to eat and drink you get invited to. Not only do you look like a saint for helping out the host, but more importantly, no matter what is on the menu, you know you will have access to a healthy, low-calorie meal you can feel good about.
8. When you do arrive at a holiday party, take a second to survey the scene and see what your options are. Look for things like raw veggies, fruit platters, cheese, nuts and lean meat. Stay away from fatty calorie bombs like creamy dressings, dips, fried foods and sweets. Then pick one or two more indulgent things you will give yourself permission to enjoy—after you finish your veggies, of course.
9. Have a safety cocktail for parties. Pick a go-to low calorie drink to allow you to enjoy the party without swilling thousands of unneeded calories. Wine and clear liquors with low-calorie mixers are a good choice. If you like beer, go for the light stuff. The simpler the drink, the lighter it is.