Lots of people ask about strategies for “surviving” the Holidays while dieting. Traditions and tempting treats abound, and everyone seems to be indulging. And you’ve heard the same advice over and over again, right? Like, bring a healthy dish to the party, drink water in between the wine, chew gum while cooking, stay away from the buffet table, and so on.
1) Hire a personal trainer, start a new training program, or sign up for a gym now. October through December are notorious in the fitness industry as being a quiet time, so chances are that trainers and gyms are offering deep discounts. Plus, many offer special Holiday rate packages that will likely go away after the New Year, when the New Year’s Resolution crowd rushes in.
2) Sign up for a local Holiday 5K or 10K race. There are so many of these types of events going on now (e.g.., Turkey Trots) and they tend to be very family friendly, benefit charities (it’s the season for giving, after all), and open to a variety of fitness levels. Training hard for an event will create a nice caloric deficit, just don’t eat it up in double the calories of sweet potato pie.
3) If you can, plan a trip somewhere warm during the winter months where you know you will have to be swimsuit ready. A couple of my own clients are taking these sorts of trips, and they are the ones who seem undeterred during the Holiday season.
4) Before you hit the party, eat a reasonably sized lean protein source. Protein in the tummy will blunt your appetite, so you’ll probably not be tempted by the rich appetizers. Not sure if I can say the same for when desert time hits.
5) For those of you following strict meal programs with “treat meals,” “cheat meals,” structured carb ups, free meals, and so on, have the Holiday party meal fall on the day or meal where you go off strict dieting. Then, schedule a training session or a good workout for the day after.
6) Limit alcohol. 2-3 is plenty, especially if you are aiming for fat loss. You should probably be drinking more water anyway. And have you ever noticed how you tend to make poor nutritional choices when you’ve had too much to drink?
7) Send all the yummy leftovers home with guests and definitely do not take home any pie. Pie IMHO should be considered legal drug, so you don’t want to be caught driving home with it.
8 ) Wear a pair of pants that don’t have much give in the waist band. Or a tight dress that might show if your belly is bulging from too much bean dip.
9) If all else fails, lie and tell everyone you have a weird food allergy, and that eating the green bean casserole/macaroni and cheese might possibly kill you. And have you ever seen what goes into these dishes? It actually could, albeit slowly…
Recognize that at some point you may just run out of tricks and tips. You might actually WANT to enjoy one great meal with your family, tossing your cares to the wind. And in all honesty, if it IS just one or two meals (Thanksgiving and Christmas) that you intend to indulge in, you should. Two meals can’t do much damage, especially if you aren’t dealing with leftovers. The next day, get right back on track with your fitness goals and eating sensibly.
See you next year!
-Sumi Singh is a Personal Trainer in Austin, TX and an online diet coach. Her website is www.shailafitness.com