Pack on the Presents (not the pounds) this year!
It’s the season of giving but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your healthy lifestyle or healthy eating habits. The holiday season is an extremely challenging time to stay focused on eating healthfully, exercising consistently and improving wellness. Trust us, we understand. There are delicious treats and sweets everywhere in our offices; as the weather gets colder, we would rather cozy up on the couch, binging on The Crown, rather than go for a run; there’s lots of travel and eating out; and there are tons of social events with indulgent foods and excessive alcohol.
Then to add fuel to the fire, the holidays can also be an emotionally taxing time. You might feel obligated to eat certain things with family and friends. Stress can make you want to eat more to make the day more pleasant. (somedays you just need a cookie) And when you’re taking care of so many guests, it can be hard to find a moment to take care of yourself. It is indeed a tricky time.
Although it is difficult, with some thought, strategy and determination, you can thrive during this season. Start 2018, with good health and momentum, rather than a long list of resolutions that will be out the door by February.
1. Eat before you go. Many of you will think we are insane to suggest this, but it is probably the best piece of advice Pam ever gave Jasmine. It goes against the logic of saving your calories because you know that dinner is going to be large, but when you walk into an event hungry, you are not setting yourself up for success. You will probably overeat, and your body will store the extra food as fat. Eat a mini balanced meal before you leave your house — some protein, vegetables, a little fat and a little starch — so you feel satiated and calm.
2. Eat your vegetables! We tend to focus on the turkey, mashed potatoes and pie and for-go the veggies. A fantastic way to counter this is to use your plate. If half of your plate is vegetables, you are good to go. They are low in calories and full of nutrients, fiber and flavor, and they balance your palate, making you less likely to crave sugar and fat. We're not saying don’t enjoy your splurges, just find a way to make vegetables part of your holiday meals. Take your own vegetable dish to the party — even if the host didn’t ask.
3. Survey the scene. Do you grab the first food you see when it wasn’t really a “gotta have it”? Next time, take a moment to survey the scene and decide what you really want. What are your options? Do I really want the corn bread? Nope — I want the mac and cheese! (obviously!) Don’t be afraid to walk into the host’s kitchen to see what is being prepared. Take a long look at the appetizers at the cocktail party so you get the ones you really crave. You are the owner of your plate!
4. Drink Water. We often feel hungry and crave sweets when all we need is some water. Airplanes and hotel rooms are usually very dehydrating, so you may not even realize how much water you need. Bring a water bottle and drink up. A reasonable guide is that you should be urinating often and that the color should be clear.
5. Every step counts. Even 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference, especially when you are out of town and cannot rely on your typical routine. Can you go for a walk? Is there a park or track where you could get in a workout? Use an app or go online to find 10-minute workouts. Consider booking a hotel with a gym. Or explore the area near where you are staying and find a class you can take. Jasmine goes for a lunch walk with her coworkers almost daily. Even some dancing after a few drinks counts…which brings us to our next point.
6. Be mindful about alcohol. There are a lot of opportunities for alcohol, but mindless drinking can lead to suffering, weight gain or worse. Pay attention! What we like to do is look at our calendar a week ahead and decide when we are going to drink and when we are going to pass. Enjoy the company you’re with. When you’re going to drink, consider drinking water between cocktails, and decide in advance how much you are going to drink so the night doesn’t get out of control. (We all know those Holiday stories)
7. Bring the gift of snacks. Be like mom and have some go-to snacks in your bag always so you never get in too much trouble. Remember, being “hangry” never makes for fun holiday time. And if you wait too long between meals, your metabolism will work against you, causing you to overeat at your next meal. Pre-portioned packages of nuts, fresh fruit, cut-up veggies, whole-wheat crackers and jerky, as well as bars made of clean ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits and spices, are usually the best bets for nonperishable goodies. If you are not traveling far, a sandwich, salad, leftovers or some yogurt could be a good on-the-go snack.
8. Be kind to yourself. It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve perfection or meet our goals. The truth is that we often set our expectations so high that we inevitably feel we could have done more. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. Yes, we had a second piece of pie — but half of the plate was vegetables, and we avoided the fried foods. Maybe your workout was not complete, but hey you got a 30-minute walk in at lunch. Acknowledge the successes.
9. Everyone is on your side. Everyone wants to get healthy and have more energy. Even though it’s easy to think your friends and family will not be supportive, we have a hunch they would love to eat less, move a little more and not fall into a food coma. Be that role model and notice how many people thank you for it.
10 . Enjoy and celebrate! Yes, this is a time to break bread with the ones you love, but it doesn’t have to be all about the bread! Catch up with people, talk, celebrate and eat only what you really want.
We have both learned these tips from first hand experience and have had great success implementing them! We know you will too. Happy Holidays!
-Jasmine & Emily