Temptations await at every turn — from decadent holiday meals to baked goods at the office and parties laden with desserts. Putting on weight at this time of year seems unavoidable, and in fact, Americans do load on about 10 pounds over the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way — by following these simple tips, you can fight back and keep your weight in check.
1) Make time for exercise. With everything else going on, a workout tends to get short shrift, but exercising is never more important than right now. If you cannot fit in an hour, shoot for 30 minutes, but try to get in some sweat-inducing activity every day. Fitting in a workout will also help keep your energy up, help you sleep better, and help boost your immune system.
2) Get your rest. Often we eat when in reality we are tired. Getting a good night’s sleep will give you more energy and help you avoid extra snacking.
3) Drink lots of water. Staying well hydrated will give you more energy and make you feel full. Drinking a glass or two of water before attending a holiday party will keep you from overdoing it at the buffet table.
4) Pack healthy snacks to take to work. Having a yogurt in the morning and an apple in the afternoon will help you fight back against energy dips and avoid those tempting holiday goodies in the lunch room.
5) Reduce stress. There’s no question, the holidays are stressful what with shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, entertaining and more. Indulging in extra food is not the way to cope. Instead, make time for you. Plan to set aside some time every day for yourself — take a walk, call a friend, read, have a cup of coffee, or just sit quietly for a few minutes and breathe deeply. Even short breaks allow you to decompress and re-energize.
6) When baking, avoid sampling! One taste is okay, but be sure to a) not cook when you are starving and b) have healthy snacks on hand so the sampling doesn’t get out of hand.
7) Go the extra mile. In addition to maintaining regular workouts, try adding in some extra fitness by parking further away when heading to the mall, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going around the block one more time when walking the dog. It all adds up--in a good way!
8) Schedule family fitness. Instead of collapsing in front of the television after holiday meals, plan a family walk, some touch football, Wii, or other activity to burn off those calories. Over holiday vacations, don’t just hit the mall and the movies, get in some X-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, or other activity that everyone enjoys.
9) Don’t feel guilty about enjoying some holiday treats, just think “moderation.” Have a taste not a plateful.
10) Try on your “skinny jeans.” During the holiday season, periodically try on your “skinny jeans” or similar outfit to help you gauge whether you are gaining weight or not. If clothes feel tight, you know you need to cut back on treats and add in more exercise.
11) Find an exercise buddy. You’re not the only one battling holiday temptations, so see if you can find a friend to commit to going on a regular walk or trip to the gym with you. This will help you both be more likely to stick to your goals.
12) Treat yourself. Promise yourself a little non-food reward for sticking to your exercise and fitness plan even in the face of holiday goodies. Maybe it’s a facial, a massage, or a special party outfit—whatever helps motivate you to stay the course.
With a little planning and strategy, you can begin the New Year feeling healthy, energized and at a healthy weight.
About Dr. Evelyne Caron: Dr. Caron is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has been with Partners for Women’s Health since 2010, where she provides not only traditional services, but also specialized care in the areas of pediatric and adolescent gynecology. Dr. Caron is also trained in robotic gynecology surgery. For more information on Partners for Women’s Health, call (603) 778-0557.