We're into the thick of it now -- and I can already feel the thickening around my middle, too. I sure don't want to wake up on January 1st with extra pounds, and so I try to look at the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve as a time to be as vigilant as possible about what goes into my mouth -- and of course the calories burned in exercise.
Here are eight proven strategies for avoiding packing on weight during the holidays.
1. EXERCISE more faithfully than ever. If you usually walk, run or work out three times a week, increase it to five. Or if your workout time is about 30 minutes minimum, up that to 45 minutes. How? Use your imagination. Park as far away from the mall entrance as possible and hoof it, and come back with your packages a couple of times at least. Take the stairs, no elevators. Hire a personal trainer. It can be done!
2. EAT FRUITS AND VEGGIES. Count up your servings and make sure you have at least 6-8 per day. This isn't hard either, just remember to have a couple of servings of fruit for breakfast daily and at least one kind of veggie at both lunch and dinner, and you're mostly there.
3. LIMIT YOUR TREATS. No way we're going to pass up all the special goodies that pass before us this time of year. But how about allowing yourself one treat a day? And keep it to one cookie, one piece of fudge, a small piece of pie, etc. -- not a binge.
4. DON'T GO PARTYING HUNGRY. Whether it's a house party or a night out clubbing/dining with your friends and family, eat something before you go. This is easy, too. Carry cereal bars in your purse or car, or a small baggie of mixed nuts. Those are somewhat filling and generally healthy, and will cut your appetite for the high-calorie stuff you'll encounter.
5. CHOOSE CAREFULLY AT THE BUFFET TABLE. Use a small plate, avoid anything that looks greasy, fried, or floating in mayo or cream. Go for those veggies. If it's a potluck, make your contribution a tasty but healthy vegetable dish or fruit salad, and eat lots of it yourself. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post some of my favorite potluck recipes.
6. PLAN AHEAD TO AVOID TEMPTATION. Here I'm thinking about bringing treats to work and passing them around, or letting yourself eat everything anyone offers you. Pop a stick of sugarless gum in your mouth before you walk into your office, for instance, if you're pretty sure there'll be holiday goodies in there to tempt you. I am amazed at how well gum can make me uninterested in food, for a few minutes at least. Sometimes that's all it takes.
7. FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE YOU'RE WITH. Step away from the food and drink tables and chat up the folks around you.
8. JUST SAY NO, BUT NICELY. Learn to politely refuse extra helpings or more than you know you should eat. They'll get over it.