I’ve spent my entire adult life watching my weight, and generally I do a decent job of it considering my BMI usually hangs in the normal range. I’m also a registered nurse so I have formally studied nutrition and understand how carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol affect the human body. Even so, the holidays are a difficult time for me because food temptations seem to be everywhere. If it’s the same with you, here are some tips and tricks which can help you get through the holidays without packing on the pounds.
1. Give yourself a 16-hour window of no calories before the party
I received an email the other day from Kevin Ness, cofounder and owner of the high-intensity, slow-motion strength training company My Strength Studio, in which he suggests intermittent fasting, which involves giving yourself a 16-hour window of no calories. So, if you're planning to eat a holiday meal at noon on Christmas Day, you'd have to stop eating or drinking anything other than water, tea or black coffee at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve. “Then, feel free to enjoy your [holiday party] without giving too much thought or concern with how your waistline will be affected,” he wrote.
2. Add minutes to every workout
If you care about your weight then you understand the importance of exercise. But during this time of year you can help yourself by spending extra time sweating. This revelation came to me about a month ago when I was putting in my standard 30 minutes on the stationary bike when I overheard a trainer at my gym talking on her cell phone. She said something about just finishing up an hour cycling. An hour! OK, I thought, challenge accepted. Now, instead of burning 250 calories during my workout, I’m earning nearly twice that by going for 60 minutes instead of 30. I like to think this makes a difference.
3. Use water as your secret weapon
Registered holistic nutritionist and fitness expert Yuri Elkaim says you need to be drinking half your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day. Countless studies have found a link between water consumption and weight loss. It suppresses appetite, increases caloric burn, flushes wastes from the body, takes the place of other drinks which contain calories, helps in the metabolization of fat and contributes to better workouts.
4. Eat low calorie, high-fiber foods before the party
Consuming celery or broccoli with some hummus, for example, keeps me from overindulging. These high-fiber foods take longer to digest so you don’t feel famished and overeat all the stuff which will make you feel guilty later.
5. Buy a beautiful outfit
My husband and I are going to a fancy holiday party this month and I’d really like to look good in a new fitted black dress hanging in my closet which I hope to wear. The vision of a flat stomach (assisted by Spanx shapewear, of course) incentivizes me to eat more vegetables and lean meats and less carbs and processed foods in the days beforehand.
6. Enjoy the holidays and just embrace a few pounds
Fitness and food guru Juli Bauer is lean, but admits that throughout the year her weight fluctuates about 10 pounds. She says that considering that the holidays comprise less than two months of the year, if you’re exercising hard and eating clean the rest of the time, gaining a few pounds during the holidays isn’t that big of a deal. “[G]o drink some champagne, go eat a giant piece of cake, and remind yourself that life to too short to not taste the chocolate frosting,” she writes in her blog. “Because you have another 10 months to work hard in the gym, eat healthy day in and day out, all while getting excited for the next holiday season bake off at your work. Life is too damn short to worry about a couple pounds.”