So, Thanksgiving is behind us, and Christmas is right around the corner. Are you ready for it? I’m not, but it’s definitely time to get myself in gear! I’m really hoping to keep things calm and healthy and just a little bit sexy between now and New Year’s Day, which means that I need to get organized and make a plan right now.
And you probably do too.
One of the things I want to plan is how to keep my weight under control over the next few weeks. Because, let’s face it, these are some of the toughest weeks of the year when it comes to weight management – eating well, controlling portions, avoiding mindless eating, and keeping emotional eating at bay.
Tough, but not impossible. I think it’s entirely possible to eat well and enjoy holiday foods, but avoid gaining weight, during this busy time of year. And it hinges on taking just four steps, none of which are difficult or complicated. (Includes affiliate links)
Are you looking for some weight management strategies to help you navigate the next few weeks? If so, take these four steps to manage your weight, take care of your health, and avoid guilt over the next few weeks:
• Don’t allow the holiday season to become a six-week “eating season.” Yes, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas provide a lot of opportunities to eat – at family dinners, parties, church events, shopping trips, and many others.
But those events don’t happen every day – many days between now and New Year’s Day are normal work, school and family days. And most days that include special events don’t require you to eat holiday foods all day long.
So don’t let every day become a “holiday eating event,” and don’t assume that the next few weeks are a total loss when it comes to weight management. Sure, you want to eat Christmas cookies at the neighborhood cookie exchange. But you don’t have to eat them the day before, and the day after…and the day after.
And you want to eat dressing and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and pie for Christmas dinner. But you don’t have to keep eating them in the days that follow – even if you have lots of leftovers.
And just because someone brings holiday treats to your house or office doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep eating them.
Instead, make a plan for eating normal, healthy meals and snacks on most days, and do some simple food prep every week that will allow you to eat well in between the special meals and events.
• Eat the holiday foods you really love, and avoid the ones you don’t. Everyone has favorite holiday foods. Two of mine are pumpkin pie and ginger cookies. (And dressing. And sweet potatoes.)
Maybe for you it’s your mother’s Christmas cookies, your neighbor’s homemade candy, or your special coconut cake. So enjoy those foods, the ones that make the holidays special for you. Eat them, savor them and don’t feel guilty about them. (I, for example, will be enjoying pumpkin pie with real whipped cream on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and maybe a few days in between!)
But many holiday foods don’t hold a special place in your heart. And some of them are worthless junk that doesn’t deserve to be eaten. You know, like the Thanksgiving “turkeys” made with Oreos, candy and icing sometimes show up at my office. Or the decorated cupcakes from a grocery store bakery. These things are cute and fun, but they aren’t delicious and I don’t need to be eating them.
And you don’t need to eat that sort of thing either – the packaged cookies at your child’s Christmas party, your aunt’s candy that you’ve never really liked, a tired buffet at a holiday party – stay away from them. Avoid them (get rid of them if possible) and save the calories for the foods you really love.
• Plan for problems. Most women will be busier than usual over the next few weeks – shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, traveling and shuttling children to Christmas activities. Opportunities to eat well will go into hiding, while opportunities to eat poorly will abound.
So develop plans to address problems before they arise. If you’ll be out shopping for an entire day, how will you avoid the low blood sugar that sends you to the nearest drive-thru window?
If your family will be traveling by plane or car, how will you avoid relying on airport food or fast food restaurants for all of your meals and snacks? If you’ll be attending your neighbor’s dessert drop-in, how will you avoid eating an entire meal of desserts?
Use simple strategies that will make your life easier – stock up on healthy snacks, prep healthy foods before you need them, and pack a small cooler with fruit, snacks and water for trips and long days of shopping and activities. And when you’re at home, rely on quick, simple and healthy meals. My ebook, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Quick and Healthy Meals, can help.
• Move your body every day. You need to move and be active every day of the year, but even more so during the holidays. Regular exercise helps you deal with some of the downsides of the holiday season, including worry, fatigue, the “blues,” and excess calories. It reduces stress, helps you feel energized, burns calories, and generally makes you feel great.
And it’s a key weight management. At this busiest time of the year, you’ll think you don’t have time for it. But make time – it’s worth it. You don’t have to go to a gym or do anything complicated. Instead, fit movement into your day and combine it with other activities.
Walk for 30 minutes at the mall before shopping, walk with your husband after dinner, or walk while your kids are at soccer or choir practice. Use a FitBit or other fitness tracker to track your steps.
Or work out with a DVD, ride bikes, or take a hike as a family on the weekend, or visit a walk-through holiday lights display. Schedule time for moving on your calendar – you deserve it, and you’re worth the effort it takes to make it happen!
• Drink lots of water and eat real food most of the time. Stay hydrated – it keeps you feeling great and helps your body function well. (Sometimes when you feel tired or hungry, you’re actually dehydrated.)
So carry water with you wherever you go, and keep a bottle or glass handy at home or work. If you don’t like plain water, make fruit waters. I don’t enjoy drinking water, so I have to remind myself frequently that my body needs it.
And eat as much real food as possible. When you’re not enjoying your favorite holiday foods, eat primarily vegetables, fruits, lean protein, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats.
You and I probably won’t be able to lose weight between now and New Year’s Day, but we can maintain our weight, stay healthy, and feel great – all while enjoying our favorite foods of the season.
If you’re looking for a healthy weight loss plan, for now or the New Year, check out my weight loss ebook, The Busy Life Diet. Use the code FRIEND25 at checkout to save 25% off the regular price.
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