1) When attending holiday parties where a buffet table laden with delicious food is available, prepare a plate for yourself, then sit down, if possible, away from the table. Hanging around a buffet table just encourages “nibbling” which can lead to excess caloric intake.
2) On those special occasions when a meal is being served later in the day, eat healthy, lower calorie meals during the day and “save” a few of those calories for the special meal. Do not, however, skip meals that day!
3) If you are the chef preparing the special meal, keep healthy, low calorie foods nearby, such as celery or carrot sticks, to help avoid eating what you are preparing.
4) If you are currently on a weight loss regimen, you can continue to lose weight throughout the holidays by avoiding those same pitfalls that created the weight gain initially. Continue exercising and monitoring your caloric intake as you are now and you can join the ranks of many who successfully lose unwanted pounds during the holiday season and begin the New Year already on track.
5) Focus upon maintaining your weight during the holiday season if you are not currently on a weight loss regimen. Choose a specific clothing item that you are currently wearing comfortably and try it on throughout the season. If it begins to feel snug, get back on track.
6) Choose a weight range of one to three pounds to remain within during the holiday season if you are at or below your ideal weight currently. Once you begin to creep toward the top of that range, reign in the partying and get back on track.
7) Limit empty calories. Choose nutrient dense foods which provide you with the energy you need to complete your holiday shopping, greeting visitors and handling stress. Empty calorie foods include simple sugars such as candy, cookies, cakes and pies.
8) Enjoy the many wonderful aspects of the holidays which do not include overindulgence, such as connecting with friends and family, giving to those in need (and there are so many this year particularly), finding that special gift for someone dear to you and taking a walk around the neighborhood to observe all of the holiday decorations.
9) Park as far from the entrance of the mall as possible and walk into and out as well as walk up the stairs rather than taking the escalator. Rule of thumb—if you do not have more than five floors to ascend, then walk up the stairs, if possible, rather than taking the elevator or escalator. If you cannot manage the stairs, then walk the escalator, especially down!
10) The little things do matter—remember than one pat of butter is 100kcal. If you were to eliminate it from your diet for a year you would lose approximately ten to twelve pounds in that year as long as you do not add another substitute worth that caloric value!
11) You still can enjoy a special holiday dessert without breaking the calorie bank. Just substitute higher caloric value foods, such as pecan pie at 480kcal per slice, for a lower calorie alternative such as pumpkin pie at 180kcal per slice.
12) Plan and prepare your holiday meals in advance, if possible, so that you are not spending the entire day in the kitchen which may reduce your stress level. This way you can actually enjoy the day with your family and friends.
13) Eat when you are hungry and avoid mindless nibbling. Just because the food is there does not mean you need to consume it. Savor your holiday favorites moderately and leave the other foods behind that you can have any time of year.
14) Use smaller wine glasses rather than the huge “bowls” that are so popular these days. True, the wine may “open” up a little easier with a larger glass, but it also may hold twice as much as a smaller glass. A serving of wine is approximately 110-120kcal for three-four ounces of wine. One glass of wine consumed daily, 365 days a year, is approximately 12.5 pounds a year!
15) Exercise on holidays. Take a walk or a hike but get your workout in that day. You may eat less, feel less stressful and more energetic.
16) Encourage your visitors to join you for some exercise before and after your holiday meal. How about a game of touch football?
17) Encourage family and friends to help clean up the mess from the holiday meal. It will take less time, be less stressful and conserve your energy so that you have more time to spend together.
18) Start out the holiday season the way you want to end it up. Think about how you would like to feel the day after each big holiday meal or party and how good you would like to feel when the holiday season is over. Then, set about making that good “feeling” a reality.
19) Purchase a cookbook (or ask for one on your wish list) which features healthy, low calorie meals and learn how to prepare those meals now. Then, offer those meals during the holiday season between the special meals. By the time the holiday season is complete, you will already know how to prepare healthy, low calorie meals for the New Year.
20) Give or ask for the gift of fitness this year. Purchase a gift certificate for a personal training session or sessions from a certified, qualified and experienced personal trainer or ask your fitness professional what types of gift certificates they would recommend for the one you love, or the one that loves you. )
21) Egg nog contains 160-290 kcal (250 ml) without the alcohol. Add a shot of alcohol and that is approximately an additional 60 calories (i.e. 210-350kcal). Try enjoying a half of a serving this year.
22) Give leftovers from holiday meals to the homeless and others in need. They need the calories for survival and it will make you feel good in the process.
23) Concentrate on what you can do rather than what you cannot do regarding exercise during the holidays. If you simply cannot find the time for your regular exercise program, then always take the time for a short brisk walk for 20-30 minutes, perform pushups, abdominal/core exercises, squats, lunges and triceps dips. Performing two-three sets of 8-12 repetitions of each of these exercises will take approximately 15-30 minutes and at the very least, you will maintain some muscular strength and conditioning.
24) If you are thinking about making some major changes in your life, such as quitting a smoking habit, do it now. Waiting until the first of the year is often not a successful strategy, so set yourself up for present and future success.
25) Encourage others to take the plunge and begin an exercise program with you. There is substantial evidence that working out with a friend or spouse/significant other helps you to adhere to the program.
26) Rather than food and wine, purchase fitness equipment as gifts for friends and relatives. Such as resistive tubing, dumbbells, exercise balls of all shapes and sizes, foam rollers, and balance equipment. This type of fitness equipment is reasonably priced, easy to ship, store and use.
27) Purchase workout gear as gifts for friends and relatives. Check out their sizes first, but there are excellent fabrics available now which wick away the moisture from the body, hold the heat in when needed, and allow for ventilation when necessary. Athletic shoes are probably best tried on prior to purchase, but if someone you love knows exactly what shoes they want, that is another wonderful gift.
28) Even if you can afford to hire someone to decorate our home this year, try doing it yourself. You will burn additional calories particularly if you are putting up lights on the exterior of your home.
29) Attend holiday music festivals and productions which may help to keep your spirits high throughout the season.
30) Build a snowman with your children. You will burn calories, have fun and give them one of the most valuable gifts of all—your time.
31) After a big holiday meal, send most of the leftovers home with your guests. Whatever you keep, create low-calorie healthy meals that you can freeze such as broth-based soups and then, you will have delicious, low calorie meals for several weeks following the holidays. Check to make certain whatever leftovers you use will keep in the freezer and for how long.
32) Purchase a solid nutrition reference book, such as Prevention Magazine’s Nutrition Advisor by Mark Bricklin, to keep on hand at home. Although there are many websites dedicated to nutritional advice and science, it is always a good idea to have a desk reference and resource so you can make wise nutritional choices.
33) For every cookie, piece of candy, pie or cake you have this holiday season, if you are able, commit to walking a mile. If you know every time you indulge you are going to have to walk a mile, because you committed to do so, you might think twice about how many times you indulge.
34) If you are healthy enough to do so, shoveling snow is a great calorie burner. Just remember to keep your nose to toes core muscles engaged, take frequent breaks to avoid undue fatigue, stay hydrated and dress warmly.
35) Create a fitness studio in your own home. You do not have to have expensive equipment. Purchase a step with risers, which can be used for cardio/step workouts and substitute as a weight lifting bench. Resistive tubing, stability balls, dumbbells, barbells, exercise mats, foam rollers, mini balls, and medicine balls are all relatively inexpensive fitness tools, and do not take up much space. Make certain you receive instruction on how to utilize these tools from a certified, qualified instructor/trainer before use.
36) Go sledding with your children or friends. Climbing up and down the hill between each ride, will burn calories, it is free and fun.
37) Ask your physician if it is time to have a physical examination. Begin the New Year knowing what your physical condition is and what, if any, modifications you need to make to your lifestyle to stay healthy or to help you get on the road to good health.
38) Get that “head edge” when you exercise by visualizing yourself succeeding. Climb every hill with passion and focus, imagining what waits for you at the top of that hill or across the finish line. Your performance will probably improve and improved performance will help you to achieve your desired fitness outcomes.
39) If you are able, walk your dog in the snow. Dress warm, wear proper snow/ice-ready boots and move your body.
40) During football half-time shows rather than making a snack or another cocktail, take a brisk walk instead. You will feel invigorated and, if your team is not playing well, it will relieve some stress as well.
41) If you are able, choose a different snowy path to walk whenever possible during the holidays. Rather than walking the same distance and direction every day, mix it up and try a different terrain… Just make sure you are well prepared for the cold weather and challenging footing. Walk with a friend for safety.
42) When driving to a spot to walk from, park as far away from the beginning and ending of your walk to get in a few additional steps before getting back in the car.
43) When talking to your relatives on special holidays on your cell phone, walk around rather than sitting if possible. Every step you take burns calories and it is the accumulation of those calories throughout the day that can make a huge difference in total weight loss throughout the season.
44) This one is a challenge—but just try putting away the remote controls, just for the holiday season and see if you are able to live without that convenience throughout the year. Again, every step you take counts.
45) Ask for a pedometer as a gift or give one. There are many inexpensive models which count the steps you take daily. This makes you more aware of your activity throughout the day.
46) Create a journal of the steps you take each day during the remainder of the holiday season. Once you get on your feet and really become accountable for your activity level, that level will most probably increase. It is feasible, for just about everyone, to literally take steps to becoming healthy and fit.
47) Create reasons to move each day before the New Year. Walk the stairs, park farther from front door of the grocery store and particularly the health club or gym, leave items upstairs that you need and avoid sending the children to retrieve it for you. Once the New Year is here, you will have already created new activity habits for yourself.
48) When you are sitting at the computer ordering gifts on-line, get up and walk around for a few minutes, stretch and then return to your gift-purchasing task.
49) Meditate. Take a few moments to reflect on each day during the season and refuse to let the stressors and anxiety take over. The one aspect of our lives that we have control over is our behavior. So, choose to relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us, during the season and throughout the year.
50) Play this holiday season. Enjoy all of the movement oriented activities that we have at our doorstep and enter the New Year, revived, renewed and ready to ‘move” into 2020!
Have a wonderful holiday season!