Sure, it might be unrealistic to try and lose weight during the holidays, BUT gaining unwanted pounds is not inevitable!! It is possible to maintain a relatively healthier lifestyle and socialize — it just takes some mindfulness, preparation, and creativity. You have to take the time to actively “set yourself up for health success.” Adopting a healthier lifestyle isn’t a passive process. If you don’t take the time to set yourself up for success, you might as well be setting yourself up for failure.
Always have a plan…and then a back-up plan.
5 Steps to “set yourself up for health success” — no hibernation required!
1. Don’t let yourself “snowball”!
Don’t let one missed workout snowball into a week of slovenly behaviour or one glass of wine domino into five. Portions count. Note that, alcohol provides 7 kcal/g (vs carbs and protein which have 4 kcal/g and fat which has 9 kcal/g), which means drinking it can significantly increase one’s total calorie intake. Missing one workout is not the same as missing five. Enjoy a few Christmas treats — just don’t mindlessly indulge. Eat something because you love it, not just because it is there. Enjoy your downtime, but at the same time, don’t use the holidays as an excuse to do absolutely nothing. If you decide to have a treat or skip a workout, enjoy your choice and then immediately get back on your “health horse.” Decide to make healthier choices — not “tomorrow,” but now. If you regret an unhealthy choice, learn from the experience; make a better choice next time. Create new goals based on your new-found knowledge. For example, if you keep missing evening workouts, consider setting up a home gym or training before work.
2. Be mindful of not only what you are putting in your mouth, but how quickly you are eating it.
At dinner parties, try placing your cutlery down between bites so that your brain has time to register when you are full. At parties, never stand near the food table; if you stand there you inadvertently graze. If you need to nibble while you talk, take a small portion of food (preferably vegetables) and then step away from the food table. That way you can keep a tally of what you have eaten.
3. Drink water before and during any social event so you don’t mistake dehydration for hunger.
Plus, drinking water will give you something to do with your hands so you don’t inadvertently nibble.
4. If the event is at someone’s home, offer to bring a healthy salad, a lean protein, or a healthy dessert.
This will ensure you have at least one healthy option.
5. Live by the rule that “some movement is better than no movement.”
If you can’t make your regular gym workout, don’t use that as an excuse to skip your workout altogether. Get a great workout in a small amount of time with intervals. Every bit of motion adds up, and every situation can be re-framed as an opportunity for movement. Can’t do a full workout? No problem; do 10 minutes. When it comes to exercise, getting started is usually the hardest part. So use my 10-minute rule. Tell yourself you have to do something for at least 10 minutes. Anyone can do anything for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes you want to stop, fine. At least you will have done something. Once you start you will usually end up doing a full workout.
When you have a busier-than-normal week, use my “piggyback” strategy. Pinpoint daily, non-negotiable habits that you already do, then turn them into a workout: turn your daily dog walk into a jog or interval workout or have meetings with your colleagues while walking.
About The Author:
Kathleen Trotter, author of Finding Your Fit, has been a personal trainer, Pilates specialist, and fitness writer for fifteen years. Kathleen makes regular media appearances, is the featured trainer in the Globe and Mail’s Fitness Basics video series, and writes for the Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, and Flaman Fitness. Kathleen holds a Master of Exercise Sciences from the University of Toronto and is completing a nutrition diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.