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It’s that time of the year again when we’re surrounded by family, friends and good food (which we are normally stuffing our faces with LOL). First we have Halloween where we are tempted with copious amounts of candy and then the day after Halloween we are tempted with even more candy but at half the price. Then comes Thanksgiving where we are gathered around a table that is normally piled high with delicious homemade recipes and then less than a month later we repeat the process at Christmas and then clink our glasses and nom on yummy treats when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.
Now I know this post is a little late for Halloween but the follow are my personal tips and tricks to help prevent weight gain during the holidays.
In no particular order because they will all help, just choose the ones that are right for you.
1) Start an exercise regimen now. Yes now! Stop reading this and do 15 jumping jacks. I’m only kidding, but the sooner you start the better off you will be. Now you may ask which is the best exercise to do to help prevent weight gain? There are many factors that come into play, but I believe the best exercise is the one that you enjoy doing. You can do an exercise that burns lets say 600 calories but if you only do it once or twice and then stop because you hate it instead of doing one that you actually enjoy that burns say 300 calories and you do this exercise 2-3 times per week you will burn more calories in the long run and not be miserable while working out. In another post we will delve into the health and physiological health benefits of different exercises.
2) Get a workout buddy. This goes hand in hand with number one. Being accountable to someone else normally makes me stick to an exercise regimen better because I know there is someone else depending on me to be there for them *cough* Crumby Cupcake *cough*. Plus it makes the time more enjoyable and goes by quicker. Also doing group workouts or hiring a personal trainer can help you stay on track. Both of the gyms that I go to (yes I go to two different gyms because I like variety) are small family run facilities (YAY for promoting local small businesses) that offer a variety of different opportunities to get your burn on. My go to gym when I want to use free weights, weight machines or cardio Equipment is Vision Fitness 24 in New Smyrna Beach Florida. They also offer personal training session and boot camp classes. My other gym the I frequent is Elite Strength and Performance in South Daytona. They offer boot camp, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), mobility and Crossfit classes along with personal training, body building, and sport specific strength and conditioning training. When you go to this gym you may see high school sports teams, bodybuilders, MMA Fighters, power lifters, crossfitters, college students, moms, dads, grandparents, you name it-they probably go there. My point to this long speech (other than to give a shout out to these two amazing gyms) is to make yourself accountable to someone to help motivate you and keep you on track with your fitness goals.
3) Make healthier versions of your favorite sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth craving. If you haven’t realized by now that I am a sweets freak you must not be reading my blog LOL. Sweets are my down fall. I eat them every day! I don’t eat the full fat/full sugar versions every day, but I do keep my homemade healthier versions on hand so I can satisfy a craving when they arise. Some of my favorites are my healthy CHEESECAKE RECIPE, CAULIFLOWER PROTEIN TRUFFLES, and these WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN PROTEIN MUFFINS. If you try any of my recipes please let me know what you think.
4) Be prepared. If I know I will be going to a party or a family gathering where I will be surrounded by delicious foods and sinfully tasty drinks I will deliberately eat less that morning and early afternoon in anticipation of noshing on yummy foods later in the day. By “eating less” I do not mean starving myself. I make healthy nutrient dense choices that are just lighter on the calorie side. For example instead of 2 large free range flax fed local eggs over hard, with 2 slices of low sodium bacon, a piece of Ezekiel toast with 1 Tbsp peanut butter and a banana (525 calories, 47g carbs, 27g fat, 29g protein) I may have 1 cup egg whites, 1 cup spinach, 1/4 cup diced peppers made into an omelette and topped with 4 Tbsp salsa and 2 Tbsp avocado with a half cup of fat free cottage cheese and a cup pineapple chunks on the side (360 calories, 15g carbs, 5g of fat, 46g of protein). I tend to eat higher protein and lower carb/fat meals preceding my family gathering meal because when you think of most sweets and decadent sides (apple pie, cookies, casseroles, cakes, ice cream-you get the point) they are normally high in fats and carbs and lower in protein so be eating a lower carb/fat breakfast and lunch I have saved these to enjoy with my family meal so I don’t have to miss out on tasting all of the delicious foods. I don’t like to label foods as “good” or “bad” because in my experience it tends to lead to disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with certain foods. I believe in eating everything in moderation.
5) Avoid Trigger Foods. This may not apply to many of you, but for me this means avoiding foods that cause me to over eat/binge. By this I do not mean grabbing a handful of chocolate chips and eating them in one sitting. When I say this I refer to standing in the pantry holding a 3 pound bag of dark chocolate chips and eating them by the handfuls, no longer tasting the bitter-sweet chocolate, but eating them past fullness and being sick to your stomach and you look at the bad and suddenly it is halfway gone. Yes that is bingeing and it is not fun. You feel miserable, guilty, ashamed and stupid for letting yourself do that (these are all feelings from my past experiences). I’ve even eaten an entire half-gallon of Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream in one sitting, and without a brain freeze (I know I am a freak of nature!). So these foods for me are trigger foods and I try to avoid putting myself in situations where I can get out of hand. But Lara, don’t you use dark chocolate chips in most of your recipes? I do! I keep a separate cabinet in the kitchen just for baking supplies and I make sure to eat something with dark chocolate in it every day that way I don’t crave it and go raiding my baking cabinet. What about the ice cream? I make my own “froyo” aka Frozen Yogurt. In a bowl mix fat-free plain greek yogurt, stevia extract, peppermint extract, & vanilla extract (you can add protein powder to this too and it doesn’t affect the texture-unless you add casein but that’s a whole other topic for later). Freeze and then top with cacao nibs and enjoy.
6) Bring a Healthy Dish to a Party. If you are going to a party where they ask everyone to bring a dish or an entrée bring one that is on the lighter fare. Something that you know you will enjoy, but that will not pack on the pounds. One of my go to healthy snacking options is a healthy French Onion Dip or healthy Spinach Dip and a veggie tray It’s so easy, all you do is sub out the sour cream for fat-free plain greek yogurt. Your friends won’t even know the difference. Now that you have your healthy foundation (veggies and dip), go ahead and add a few chips, a cookie, a couple small scoops of this and that, and boom. From my personal experience, when you go to a party and don’t put much on your place people tend to bother me asking me if I’m on a “diet” or “what’s wrong why aren’t you eating much” “do you not like the food” and many others. In most cases when I tell them no to all of the above, that I am just trying to eat healthy or not gain weight they look lat me like I am crazy or they tell you “your are at a party loosen up, one bad night won’t kill you.” But it’s not just one night. It seems like every week there is at least one holiday party that center’s around eating and drinking. So take my advice and fill most of your plate up with a lighter fare and boom, no one will bother you about not eating a lot and you can enjoy a glass of wine or two without worrying if you are going off track or if you are going to gain weight by enjoying yourself at a party.
7) Seek Professional Advice. Now I’m not talking about seeing a shrink, but seeking out the help of a Registered Dietitian (like me). We can help you get through the holiday season by making specialized meal plans, provide you with healthy recipes and alternatives to help you stay on track and even lose weight through the holidays! But your like ” I don’t want to have to stick to a meal plan through the holidays,” that’s okay you won’t have to. I will provide you with a meal plan and the macronutrient breakdown (number of grams of fat, carbohydrates and protein) for the day so you can either decide to follow the meal plan or follow the macronutrient goals (use a free app like my fitness pal to help you track your macros) and still stay on track. I offer a one time nutrition consult with a meal plan and macro breakdown, follow-up sessions, and packages. I also offer macronutrient breakdown only services. With the nutrition counseling session it can be in person (if you live my area), over the phone, via email or by Skype/facetime. I also currently have a 12 week challenge going on where I partnered with Liz from Elite Strength and Performance. For this challenge participants were given meal plans and macronutrient breakdowns, they attend 3 HIIT (crossfit style) classes per week (participants can also attend other classes/boot camps/etc but we recommend a minimum of 3 resistance training workouts per week), cardio recommendations (only to be used as a tool and not as a foundation) and measurements and progress pictures are taken (because everyone loves to see progress). They also have access to a private Facebook group where participants can communicate with each other and Liz and myself for support or to ask questions.
8) Keep a food diary. This will allow you to see how much you are actually eating a why you are eating/how you felt when you’re eating. Do you eat because you are bored, stressed, thirsty, grazing. When you find out why you are eating the way you do, we can find out ways to prevent them from happening again. Download a copy and start tracking your Food Diary now.
6:30am coffee, 10 drops stevia extract, 1 Tbsp half and half, 2 Tbsp plain unsweetened almond milk (so tired need coffee!)
7:30am whole wheat bagel, 2Tbsp fat free cream cheese, cheese stick, handful of almonds (slept in-running late had to eat breakfast in the car)
10am a couple of pieces of Halloween candy (bored during staff meeting)
12pm rice, black beans, chicken, lettuce, salsa (lunch-hungry-eating leftovers from Chipotle)
3pm 15 baby carrots, 2 Tbsp hummus, celery (hungry snack time-yay for meal prep-more on this later)
5:30pm a couple of chips and grapes (snacking while packing the kids meals for the next day)
7:30pm 5oz grilled chicken, medium sweet potato with 1/2 Tbsp grass-fed butter and 1 cup steamed broccoli (dinner time! craving something healthy)
9:30pm Kettle Popcorn (shared a bag of pop corn with the hubs while catching up on some TV shows)
Now when I go back and look at my food diary I can see that around 10am I ate candy because I was bored. Maybe next time I can bring a water bottle to drink during the staff meeting or chew on some gum during the staff meeting so I won’t be tempted to eat out of boredom, or I could bring another healthy snack for the day in case I am actually hungry and munch on those instead of candy.
9) Keep a workout journal. Whether your workout is going to the gym 3 times a week, walking the dog or playing with your kids at the play ground. Tracking it and keeping yourself accountable along with seeing your progress will help you stick with your exercise regimen in the long run. And isn’t this little notebook cute! I got it on clearance at Marshalls. It has these convenient elastic band type things so you don’t lose you pen and headphones and even your phone fits too!
10) Meal Prep. The sort of goes along with number 4 being prepared. Not everyone enjoys cooking but if you do prepping your meals ahead of time will not only save you time and possible money, but it will cut down on the stress of finding healthy snacks and meals, and you will be less tempted to run down to the snack machine or go out to lunch (personally this works very well for me because I hate to waste food).
I hope these tips and tricks help you through not only the holiday season but in every day life. What are some of the ways you will prevent packing on the pounds this holiday season?