Finish 2018 Strong!
Do you feel the excitement of the holidays? I do! I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my sons and granddaughter (her first Thanksgiving!!) and then it's full-out Christmas.
My favorite part of the holiday season is the time I spend with others. Certainly I spend much of my time celebrating with family, but with work parties, get-togethers with friends, and extra volunteer opportunities, I get to enjoy the season with many people. I love it!
Of course, I enjoy other aspects of the holidays as well; the music, the shows, and, YES, the food! I am not a huge sweets eater, but give me a plate of Christmas cookies and I am overjoyed.
I do enjoy the parties, special concerts, and a annual holiday trip to Chicago to visit the German Market and check out the displays. But, give me a few cookies, a cozy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and The Year Without a Santa Claus on TV and I am one happy camper!
Though I am not one to deny myself the pleasures of this Holiday Season, I know that if I don't pay attention, I let the days just whiz by, I end the season feeling bloated, lethargic, and completely wiped out. Not the way I want to bring in a New Year!
Did you know the average person gains 5 pounds during the holidays? I know I have worked too hard the rest of the year to maintain my weight, stay fit, and keep healthy; there is no way I am going to let a few weeks set me back!
How do I enjoy the holidays without sacrificing my health, yet without denying myself the cheer and merriment of the season?
I am most successful when I do a little planning. Don't get me wrong, I am a person who thrives on spontaneity, but I also need a bit of structure. Most of my holiday parties and get togethers are already scheduled, so I have them highlighted on my calendar. This helps me out in a few ways. I like to say I have a good memory, it's just short, so getting those special events on my calendar immediately helps me avoid the last minute trip to the store to pick up wine, an appetizer, gift, or whatever I need. In other words, it saves me from the embarrassment of showing up empty handed!!
Knowing what events are coming up also gives me the opportunity to plan my workouts and meal plan accordingly. If my schedule is tight, I will schedule in a short HIIT workout at home. If I know I am going to splurge, I stick to a fairly strict meal plan for a few days prior to the event so that I can splurge without worry or negative consequences (except maybe a food coma!).
I try to find out what foods are being served and plan what I am going to eat. A few parties I am attending are held at restaurants and we are given menu choices ahead of time. This gives me control over what I am going to eat.
If I am not sure what will be served, I ask if I can bring a salad. No, not just a plain old lettuce and tomato salad, but maybe an autumn salad filled with roasted veggies, goat cheese, walnuts and a delicious maple Dijon vinaigrette. I make something healthy that I really enjoy eating; that way, if the meal is full of high-fat, high calorie foods, I can eat a little of those foods and fill up on the salad I brought.
Bringing along a good bottle of wine is always appropriate and might help you avoid the calorie-laden nogs and punches. Oftentimes I will even bring along a bottle of flavored (no sugar) sparkling water and make my own wine spritzer; delicious and lower in calories.
Once I mark down the parties and events, I pencil in my workouts and develop my meal plan accordingly. If I know I will be overindulging, I make sure my meals are healthy and nutrient-dense and take out the "cheats" for a few days. Then, I make myself stick to my schedule. Sure, there are days when I may not feel like working out, but I just do it. Maybe not as intensely as I had hoped, but I do it. Though I might be tempted by the various treats and cookies all around me, I look at my plan and remember what is coming up. I give up a few treats so I can indulge later.
Knowing this is a time when my weight might creep up unnoticed (big comfy sweaters hide a few extra pounds!), I make sure to weigh myself once a week. No, not every day, just once a week. Our weight can fluctuate throughout the day; a weekly weigh in will give you a more accurate picture of where your weight is headed. I am not looking to lose any weight, but I certainly don't want to have to worry about dropping 5-10 extra pounds once the holidays are over.
Think about your credit card balance. If you don't pay attention to it during the holidays, you could greet 2019 further in debt than expected. However, if you keep track of your spending, you might tighten up a bit when you are close to your limit. Think of weighing yourself the same way. Pay attention to your weight so it doesn't creep up unexpectedly and if you notice a gain, use that as your motivation to increase your exercise or cut some calories.
Staying properly hydrated is tough during the winter - the cold temperatures rarely trigger a desire for a big glass of water. Proper hydration is important for good health yet many of us experience moderate dehydration during the winter. Dry, heated indoor air and cold and windy days sap moisture from our skin. The busyness of shopping, preparing, and celebrating often keeps us from drinking enough water. Not only will proper hydration help keep you energized, it will also help keep your cravings in check. Also, sometimes when we think we are hungry our bodies are actually signaling to us that we are dehydrated. So, drink up (water that is) throughout the day and have a big glass of water before heading to your next party to help control your appetite.
Planning, shopping, celebrating, and visiting can leave you exhausted and who wants to go through the holidays feeling wiped out? Take a little time for yourself to recharge and relax. A short nap, a few minutes of "quiet" time, or an evening watching your favorite Christmas shows will give your mind and body a chance to settle down and re-energize.
Finally, pick your poison! There are going to be many indulgence; candies and cookies, delicious meals, and cocktails and snacks that you might normally treat yourself to so freely. Choose what you really want, what you truly will enjoy and go for it! Are you looking forward to the pecan pie, sweet potato casserole (yes, the one with marshmallows on top!), or the beautifully frosted cookies. Pick the one you are most looking forward to, then stick to your plan and give up the other things. It's all about balance.
Cheers to you and to your health!
Thanks for reading!
I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!
Want more tips? Check out my website at www.cinergydynamics.com or find me on social media @cinergydynamics.