Starting every October, we are bombarded by treats and goodies until the New Year. And even then, we have Valentine’s Day just around the corner. It’s a time when a lot of people will put on a few pounds and consume a lot of sugar. It doesn’t mean we have to be unhealthy throughout the holiday season, though.
Face the Holiday Season with Resolve
I am a big fan of this time of year. Between Halloween chocolate through Christmas cherry divinity, I am a sucker for sugary goodness. However, I don’t want to revert back to where I was in weight. Does this mean I have to refrain from sugar entirely?
It’s all about having a good strategy for yourself. If you want to partake in some of the goodies, you need to put in the effort to offset the intake.
Here is my strategy for facing the holiday season while still losing weight.
Step 1: Identify and Track Proper Portions
Portion control is vital when you want to lose weight. It’s not necessarily about dropping sugars and carbs from your diet, but more of reducing your intake to logical proportions. I lost a lot of weight simply by consuming realistic portion sizes of food.
I am a big fan of MyFitnessPal. It’s a free app you can use to track your food intake as well as exercise. Using this system, I’ve lost more than 60 pounds. If you track and monitor every morsel of food, you can keep an eye on how it affects your body.
This is the starting point of how I can eat pizza, ice cream and chocolate peanut butter cups while still losing weight. Instead of a pint of ice cream, knock it down to a 1/2 cup.
Step 2: Increase Physical Activity
It’s quite common knowledge that exercise helps keep you fit and trim. Unfortunately for many, it’s difficult to maintain a good workout during the coldest months of the year. However, keeping the body moving is vital if you don’t want to add inches to your waist this holiday season.
Some things I do include playing the Xbox Kinect. It’s a fun way to burn through a ton of calories, especially if you make flamboyant gestures like I do when playing.
Something else you can do is housework. Yes, chores both indoor and outdoor will burn calories depending on how much physical effort you put into the activity. For instance, shoveling snow is an excellent activity to increase the heart rate while working out various muscle groups. Don’t think of them as chores, but more of a way to keep fit.
I like to monitor my Fitbit when doing housework to see how many calories I can burn in a certain amount of time. Then, I try to beat that record.
Step 3: Offset with Nutrition
Monitoring your food intake is only part of keeping fit. After all, you can’t consume your calorie goal in cupcakes for the whole day and expect all to be well. You need to add some nutrition into the mix.
It’s true that I have my Halloween bucket brimming with chocolate goodness throughout the month, but I also have plenty of fruits and veggies in the fridge.
Another snack I load up on is making sugar-free Jello. At 10 calories per 1/2 cup serving, it makes a great night-time snack as opposed to filling up on chocolate. This is because I am less likely to burn off the sugars that late at night.
Step 4: Keep Yourself Occupied
One of my biggest issues is snacking when I am sitting around watching TV or Netflix. The more I am mentally occupied, the less I snack. When the stores are filled with goodies of all kinds for the holiday season, idle hands is your gut’s undoing.
For many, it’s difficult to occupy time during the winter. If you don’t like to play in the snow, you need to find something to keep yourself busy. Not only is it good for physical activity, but you won’t get that child-like mindset of being hungry because you’re bored.
Here are a few ideas to get you started…things I plan on doing myself.
- Arts and crafts with the kids.
- Making a snow fort.
- Online games that engage the mind and promote a social environment – there are a few of them out there.
- Building a Christmas village model on a 4′ by 8′ piece of plywood.
- Go out to more city events. Some are even free to explore.
- Make use of a gym membership.
- Find an indoor remodel or craft project for yourself.
Step 5: Make it Yourself
I know the temptation is strong this time of year to visit the fast food window more often. You’ll be out and about shopping or just don’t feel like cooking because the weather. However, making your own foods not only saves money but it’s often healthier as well.
Personally, I rather like cooking. I get a great deal of pleasure creating something new that winds up being a family favorite. It’s also therapeutic and helps me relax. For others, it may feel like a chore. It doesn’t have to be.
Grab a cookbook and make it a hobby to create a new dish. If you approach the activity with a better mindset, it won’t feel mundane. This is the same way I approach chores around the house. I am engaged because I gamify just about everything I do around the house.
Step 6: Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
A lot of people will be exceptionally hard on themselves throughout the holiday season. They’ll get mad and fill themselves up with the sense of self-loathing. That is a terrible mindset to have, especially during a time of year when your mind should focus on love and family.
So what if you indulged on a box of cordial cherries today. Just make tomorrow a better day. There is nothing you eat today that can’t be erased before the week ends. For example, there were weeks I still lost more than three pounds even after being a complete pig when it came to pizza dinner.
The holiday season should be enjoyed, not feared. Yes, some of us have an exceptionally more difficult time thanks to all the foods and snacks that hit the shelf. But you have control over these elements and have the ability to offset anything you do by building a strategy for tomorrow.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
Speaking from personal experience, the holiday season is a difficult time for many. However, a positive mindset and determination to be healthy and fit can go a long way. You don’t have to starve yourself of the awesome treats that are available. Just be sensible when it comes to eating and physical activity.