Unless you're hoping to make an extra-convincing Santa at the holiday party, packing on pounds is probably not at the top of your priority list this holiday season. But with so many delicious, fatty snacks around, how can you avoid gaining weight during the holidays?
Here are eight things you can do:
1. Boycott the food court. Sometimes it feels like the thought of a gooey cheeseburger or fried chicken fingers is the only thing keeping you moving during those last-minute gift shopping hours. Be strong! Have a healthy lunch at home just before hitting the mall, and don't even go near the food court. If you really need a "reward," arrange to get together with a friend afterwards and bake low-fat holiday cookies.
2. Limit your lattes. It's like Starbucks knows your weakness. Fight it! As hard as it might be to resist a foaming gingerbread latte or peppermint hot chocolate, don't get into the habit of popping into the nearest coffee shop every time your lips get chapped. One smart trick: purchase a Starbucks giftcard and fill it up at the beginning of every week with a small amount. Once you've used the card that week, no fair refilling until next week! (And no fair using cash, or sponging off your friends, either.)
3. Park farther away. During the holidays, it's common to see people circling the parking lots for up to 15 or 20 minutes. Have you ever thought about how silly this is? Not only are you wasting precious time, but you're giving up the opportunity to do a little exercise. Take the first parking spot you see, and enjoy the stroll to the shops.
4. Drink water, not whisky. Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, the holiday season always seems to be filled with lots of chatter. How thirsty does all that talking make you? Instead of reaching for a soda or an alcoholic drink, hydrate with water throughout the day. You'll feel more energetic too, and less likely to mistake thirst for hunger and snack when you don't need to.
5. Move your body. You don't need to wait until New Year's Eve to make a resolution to exercise more. It may seem like you just don't have time to exercise now, but you can always squeeze in 15 minutes, can't you? Start your day with some gentle yoga or a brisk walk. If you just can't motivate yourself, offer to walk the neighbor's dog in the spirit of the season.
6. Eat, eat, eat. Huh? Yes, that's right. If you skip meals or allow yourself to get too hungry before eating, what happens? You get powerful sugar cravings and are more likely to indulge them. Plus, you feel more hungry, so you think you need to eat more at once. And then you stuff your face - whoops! Instead, eat small healthy meals frequently throughout the day: a bowl of crunchy granola sprinkled with chia seeds, a antioxidant-rich blueberry smoothie, or a grilled veggie sandwich.
7. Keep your distance. You know how everyone always ends up standing around the food buffet at a party? You don't even notice your fingers dipping into the tortilla chips, the chocolate truffles, the almond shortbread. Just grab a plate, put a few things on it, and say to your friend, "How about we snag a spot by the fireplace to chat?" (It's for their own good, too.) Then walk away from the buffet without a second glance.
8. Relax at the spa, not at the fridge. Aren't the holidays stressful sometimes? It's super tempting to curl up in a corner with a slice of chocolate pecan pie. But that's not really a fulfilling long-term strategy. Do something that truly nourishes and replenishes your spirit: get a massage, soak in a hot bubble, or attend a meditation workshop weekend.
Remember, one of the best presents you can give yourself is the gift of health. While there's no one perfect body type, extra weight simply isn't healthy. So treat yourself the way you deserve, and feel great about avoiding weight gain during the holidays.