Is that even possible? You know, to not gain any weight over the holidays? Well for some people it is. They are the ones who can easily say no to the sweeter things in life. Just so you know, I'm not one of them. For some reason, holiday baked goods just taste so much better between November 1st and January 1st. It's like comfort food for the soul. Except the only thing getting padded around here are the hips, waist, back, legs and arms.
But seriously, why is it that we require food to enjoy the holiday season? And it is a requirement I tell you. I've conducted an experiment and invited friends over for coffee and the first thing they say is,"what can I bring, I can make cookies or a quiche?" Hmmmm, that sounds yummy! I have to admit that the first thing I think about is "what should I make?" you know, to serve with the coffee because it would be a sin to have JUST coffee.
Well, this is who we are and this is what we do. We are trained to celebrate everything with food and there's no better time to "get away" with over eating like the holiday season. The media and every medical profession in the media has been telling us that, on average, people gain five to seven pounds during the holiday season. OUCH! They say from November to December, more accurately it all begins on Halloween, October 31st and ends on New Year's day, January 1st. So, even though we know this to be pretty accurate, we still manage to fall into the trap of the holiday weight gain. We eat the tasty treats, the delicious foods, and the drinks and begin the process of putting off fitness as a new year's resolution. We simply give in to the fad.
So what do we do now? The "weight gain season" has already begun. Do we just stay on this slippery slope and start our healthy habits next year OR is it possible to avoid becoming a statistic? Of course it is. Anything is possible if you really want it to be. I have tips, you have wants, so lets put it all together and see how we do.
Exercise: Measure out an area that is safe for you to walk from your home and back. Invite some neighbors to join you after dinner, early in the morning or middle of the day. Do the math. Walk two miles a day, times seven days a week-- that is just over a marathon in 2 weeks. Challenge yourself and add a mile to your walk OR cut back on the time it takes to walk 2 miles. Make it fun for the entire family and take the kids for a bike ride, roller skates, or a hike through the park. However, if you feel inadequate about walking alone or working out alone, then by all means join a gym, hire a trainer, start taking classes. Arm yourself with a fitness routine that does not allow you to cheat yourself out of enjoying special holiday treats.
2. Eat well, everyday! If you haven't already started, spend a couple of days logging everything you eat before making any changes. This will help you identify problem areas with your current nutrition plan (because we all know we have one right?)
Nutrition: Ask yourself, am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? Five a day is what they say. Make them fresh or frozen, raw or cooked. More is best. To keep the fresh vegetables from going bad in the fridge, eat them within a few days or cook and refrigerate or freeze them so that they are ready to be used in soups and stews over the colder months.
Speaking of soups and stews, stay away from creamy soups that only add on the pounds. I know, it's the comfort food we crave when we're cold and it's OK to have them in moderation. But if you don't think you can have just one serving then stick with the less creamy soups loaded with vegetables, legumes and lean meats. Best to choose good carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain, sweet potatoes, etc. Low fat dairy, lean meats and fish are also important in your diet as they provide you with well needed protein your muscles will crave. Take this opportunity to teach the kids what a serving is and what's in that serving of food. Lead by example.
3. Rest, de-stress, sleep! I am so bad at doing any of these. It seems I'm alway running somewhere (and I don't mean that literally, otherwise I would have nothing to worry about if I was really running,) cleaning, teaching, kids homework, and staying up late for no good reason, well, it's my quiet time.
A lot of women do this in search of quiet, meditative time and that's great if #1 we can still manage to get enough sleep and #2 if we use that time wisely, i.e. meditating, stretching, etc. I'm back to putting meditative time on my schedule. We don't need a lot all at one time, 10 - 15 minutes of being with oneself, in our thoughts, in our minds, and revisiting our souls is all. Do it a few times a day, do it while waiting in line at the store, or upon rising, before bed. There are opportunities, we just fail to seize them and instead go to bed with a mind full of junk we can't resolve in our sleep. So rest your mind, sleep and the result will be = controlled stress management. Again with the family, take some time to read to your kids or with your kids; teach them how to be silent for one whole minute - make it a game and then ask what they were thinking when they were still. You'd be amazed at the stories you get.
4. Drink Water. Oh yes, this is a biggy. I am terrible at drinking water in the winter time. Did I mention I'm from the Caribbean? As much as I love the beautiful fall foliage and a crispy cold winter's day, it is not my cup of tea to live in it everyday. Definitely tropical and if I want winter I can drive to it instead. That's ideal.
Back to water. Since I know that drinking anything cold is not all that attractive to me I make it a point of drinking plenty of water before, during and after my workouts. Carry water with me wherever I go so that I'm not tempted to buy coffee or food. I also keep my water bottle on the counter to maintain the room temperature. I find that my kids don't drink nearly as much water as they should - I think sometimes they skip it all together, so new rule: when they say they are bored or hungry I offer them a glass of water while I make a nutritious treat or plan an activity like going out to play in the piles leaves. One other option if you don't like cold water is a cup of warm water with a twist of lemon in the morning is actually pretty good too. My dad was told (prescribed by his doctor) to drink this every morning to keep his digestive system running smooth.
The Challenge: To avoid any weight gain over the holidays. Go ahead,challenge yourself to be different this year. Don't bother making a resolution to get healthy, do it now. Get in the best shape of your life starting right now. Get the family involved in getting and staying active, even if you don't have weight to lose, living a healthier lifestyle IS the new fad.
Disclaimer: If you want to lose weight, PLEASE, keep in mind that this process takes time, it's not going to happen over night, it's not going to happen in ONLY 10 minutes a day. However, with a little determination and motivation, it will happen as you burn 500 calories a day exercising, cleaning, even chasing the kids around. As you eat 300 less calories a day replacing junk food with good-for-you food. It will happen as you burn off 1-2 lbs a week and replace body fat with lean muscle mass. It will happen if you want it bad enough!
Let's do it together!! What are you waiting for? Tell me, how will you avoid the holiday weight gain in 2009? I want to know!