Saturday, February 4, 2012

Make it a Gainless Holiday

Christmas gain is New Year's pain! Starting early is the secret to avoiding the typical 10-pound holiday season accumulation of fat. (Come now – you didn't think it was muscle, did you?) Develop a few good habits before Thanksgiving and you're likely to start 2005 weighing no more than you did before, maybe even less. Here are 5 tips that will help you through the holidays.
1. Set a mental limit now on the food items that are your biggest temptation. Cookies? Make 2 your limit at every holiday affair. Chocolate? Two pieces will probably satisfy your sweet tooth, especially if you eat them slowly, not in one bite. If it will make you feel better, remember that dark chocolate has some beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants and magnesium. If eggnog or other alcoholic drink makes you put on pounds, always ask the host for the smallest glass, and nurse it slowly. It will be easier if you tell yourself that it's only until the holidays are over. (By then it might have become a good habit.)
2. If you really enjoy baking for holiday feasts, make every batch of cookies half as large as usual. Make fewer varieties. Look for recipes that yield lower calories.
3. Don't go out to celebrate on an empty stomach. You're likely to eat more and drink more and indulge in more of those high-calorie appetizers. Eat an apple on the way, or a handful of almonds or walnuts.
4. When you get there don't hang around the buffet table. The closer you are, the more likely that you'll half-consciously keep reaching for food while you're in a pleasant conversation. If it's an unpleasant conversation, you'll nosh even more.
5. Make room on your body and rev up your metabolism. You probably won't have as much time to exercise when the relatives arrive or you travel to them, so get in a few extra exercise sessions before the feasting begins. You might lose only 3 or 4 pounds in a month or two by exercising a couple more days a week, but if your routine includes resistance exercise (and it should) the added muscle will raise your metabolic rate so that you'll be burning more calories even while you sleep.
You only need to make a few minor adjustments in order to avoid gaining weight at any time of the year. If you can arrive at January 2nd weighing the same, or less, than you did back at Thanksgiving, it will give you a boost of confidence that will spill over into everything that you do.