The holiday season that once started a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and concluded at the end of December now starts in September and ends sometime after the new year.
Pumpkin spice season and Octoberfest kick off the holiday season with yummy treats, beverages, and beer in September, which extends the season an additional 3-4 months! On top of that, blended families and families not wanting to miss out on seeing all family members have incorporated additional days to celebrate holidays in order to see everyone. Then, there are the co-workers and friends, where it is also now the tradition to have the holiday party at work, or outside of work, and it keeps on going. Everyone is stressed trying to fit it all in. So how can you stay on track amongst all the chaos as you try and fit everything in? How can you prevent the stress and the weight gain that occurs for many?
I'm going to list 5 tips for staying on track and minimizing any weight gain. These are 5 random tips. Not necessarily the top tips or the only tips that will work. These are 5 tips out of many that you can use and think about as you try to navigate this long holiday season.
In a simplistic model, if you want to maintain your weight, you need to have a balance of energy in vs energy out (energy = calories). If your daily maintenance calories are 2000 calories, then eating 2500 calories one day and 1500 calories the next day, will generally average out to 2000 calories and you will maintain your weight.
While it isn't an exact science, if you know you are going out for a holiday party at night, you can choose to eat a little less during the day with your meals and enjoy yourself a bit at night. I'm generally not a fan of cutting out healthy calories to save for junk calories, but if you are not doing this on a daily basis, there is nothing wrong with doing this in order to maintain your weight. Incorporate more veggies during the day. You'd be surprised how much they fill you up and low low calorie they are for the most part.
Prioritize and learn to say "no" when you are making plans. You don't have to be everything and attend everything. I often hear that people feel like the have to attend something because they are asked and they don't want to hurt peoples feelings. If you are invited to something you wish you'd rather no go to, it is ok to say no.
2. Cut out the treats and candy people bring into work.
Seriously. The holiday season is abundant with work treats and candy every.single.day. You don't have to eat all the things all the time. If you generally say yes to work treats, try and cut them out for one week minimum. I bet you'll find that your new habit of saying no eliminates the willpower you may think you need have need to order to say no. It isn't about willpower, it's about giving yourself a choice to chose what you want and when you want it.
Don't feel bad for saying no and turning down treats. You can come up with an excuse for saying no (oh, no thanks, I already had two treats today!). Don't give up your power to have a choice and feel obligated because you feel bad saying no. People offer because they are being polite, and most will actually respect your saying No. Mindless eating can add a lot of calories over time. Pick what you think is worth it and enjoy a little once in awhile. While you enjoy those treats you think are worth it, slow down and really enjoy and savor them. I promise you it will be a better experience.
3. Move more.
This doesn't have to be complicated. If you are already exercising, pay attention to what you are doing the other 23 hours of the day. Move more!
Whether or not you are are already active, you can simply take the stairs more often, park farther away than you need to, get up and move more often during the day for slightly longer breaks, or take the long way to all of your walking destinations. If you already workout routinely, you can increase your exercise time, or if you don't exercise, this is actually a great time to start working out. Start small by shooting for 2 sessions per week and increasing to start. You can incorporate weights into your workout routine if you haven't already, because this will also help with metabolism.
4. Prioritize sleep and relaxation time.
Taking time to wind down will help manage stress levels. Sleep deprivation and high stress do not go well together and can lead to inflammation in the body along with weight gain.
Relaxation time doesn't mean relaxing with alcohol unfortunately. Using alcohol to destress is a slippery slope to walk on. Instead, I'm talking about things like meditation or just closing your eyes for a bit and practicing some deep breathing from the belly. Other effective relaxation techniques are walking in nature, listening to music and dancing, reading a good book, spending fun time with family, doing yoga, going in a sauna or taking a hot bath, etc.
5. Stay on the wagon, even if you feel like you fell off.
This is probably the most important tip.
If you feel like you've fallen off the wagon you are riding, it's ok. You ate more than you wanted? You skipped your workout to spend time with a friend and only worked out only one or two days this week? SO WHAT. This doesn't mean you can't get back on track tomorrow or at your next meal and start again. We don't need to be perfect. We just need to be consistent.
Too many people fall off the wagon and then wait until the new year to hop back on and in the mean time, they binge or become inactive because they've given up and given themselves permission to let themselves go. This is hard. You aren't a failure. Don't feel bad. You don't need to start over. Don't make it hard. Recognize that you enjoyed a moment, or a cookie, or whatever it is and go back to #1 on this list and start again. That's it!
Keep it simple. Maintaining your weight during the holiday season isn't necessarily hard, nor is is complicated but people tend to overcomplicate it and give up.
If you need a health and nutrition coach to help navigate you through the holiday season, I've got openings. Simply drop me a line and I'd love to worth with you.