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7 Tips to beat the holiday bulge

As we enter the height of the holiday season you’ve probably already been to parties, potlucks and wine and cheeses. I might be a week or two behind with these tips, but I’m sure you’ll face a few more temptations over the next three weeks and will be able to put these tips to good use.

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, I signed up for a Zero Pound Holiday Challenge through my gym. What typically happens during the holidays is we throw all caution to the wind, loose control and eat and drink our way through the festivities. In January we end up with extra pounds, less energy, diminished vitality and generally feel like shit.

The idea behind this challenge is, instead of all that debauchery, we stay the course. We sustain and maintain our healthy habits. We don’t gain. We don’t deplete ourselves and we kick off the New Year feeling good.

Of course if you know me, you know my approach also allows for enjoyment and treating yourself to some favourite indulgences. Otherwise what would we have to look forward to? We’d have no pleasure and no fun. And that would make for a pretty miserable Christmas.

For example, I just can’t resist my mom’s shortbread cookies. This year she made them with Skor bar bits. Damn they are good. So good that I ate the entire container she gave me one evening. (It was a small container and they are really really small cookies. I clearly took none of my own advice that night!)

Overall the Challenge is going well. I’m appreciating the accountability and reminders through daily Facebook posts and emails. Despite the shortbread binge, I’m actually down a pound.

Here are the nutrition strategies (now that the cookies are gone) I’m following to get through the next three weeks:

  1. Maintain the basics – Sleep, water, protein and veggies. I gotta get my 8 hours a night. I start each day with water and lemon and sip on more through the day. And I stick to a foundation of protein and veggies for most meals.
  2. Exercise – I’ve been pretty diligent with three bootcamps a week, three to four walks, plus some extra cardio on the treadmill or bike. I’ve already booked my bootcamps into my calendar for the next two weeks and I plan on getting to a few special yoga classes. I’ll also continue with the walks when the weather is good. As a back up plan, if I can’t get outside, I’ll do some cardio in the gym at my building. Consistent movement is key for burning off those extra calories and especially helpful on days when I’m going to splurge in the evening.
  3. Focus on nutrient density – For the meals I can control, I make sure they are nutrient-dense. That means loads of veggies, fruit and lean protein. I have also been doing a super smoothie each morning with spinach, blueberries, ground flax, collagen, yogurt, and whey protein powder.
  4. Plan for parties – I always like to bring a fairly healthy potluck dish. I try not to arrive too hungry. Eat a little bit of protein and veg before you go like greek yogurt, sliced turkey breast, boiled eggs, cut up veggies.
  5. Allow for a treat or two – See above re: shortbreads. And don’t over do it like I did. I slid all the way down the slippery slope. It’s 100% okay to allow yourself a few pleasures. Your favourite sweet treat, grandmother’s dessert, mother’s shortbreads, hors d’oeuvre, or festive alcoholic beverage, snack or family tradition. What will it be for you? What is something you look forward to each year? Plan for it and enjoy each bite, sip, slice or slurp with gusto. Savour the flavour when it hits your lips. Feel the texture and taste in your mouth. And then stop (don’t eat the whole container.)
  6. Make wise booze choices – This is where the calories can really add up especially on top of all the delicious delectables. My favourite is a clear spirit with speaking water and lemon or lime. I prefer vodka, but gin and tequila are also good choices. Even flavoured vodkas have less calories than wine or beer. And when you go for the water in between drinks, no one will notice.
  7. Get back on track the next day – Try not to indulge two days in a row. This allows some recovery time. In between parties you can try Intermittent Fasting (I wrote about this here) and wait to have breakfast until 11 or noon. This will allow your body some time to clean up all the toxins and recover. For lunch and dinner recharge with a lot of vegetables and some lean protein. Drink water and get a workout in.

The bottom line is that you want to make the holidays as enjoyable as possible. Don’t overthink it. Aim to be grounded, centered and present with the people, food and activities you engage with. And if you stick to these seven tips you just might avoid the that extra holiday bulge that tend to appear after the holidays. Be intentional and keep the big picture in mind to allow the most peace, love and joy shine through this holiday season.

I’d love to hear from you:

What will you stick to? What favourite holiday treats will you enjoy with gusto? What are your back-up plans if obstacles get in your way? Where can you find non-food nourishment this holiday season?

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