Tuesday, December 21

Surviving the Holidays - Part 3

The holiday season has been absolutely nuts, but I have friends here to help!  Vicky, my lovely Body Attack instructor, is guest blogging for us today!  Vicky had her own weight loss journey that keeps all of us Body Attackers truly inspired.  She's there every Monday keeping me motivated and determined.
The holiday season is upon us and, along with the delight of decorating, shopping and parties, comes stress and bad habits.  How do we survive without having that huge regret in January?
First of all, stress! There is nothing better to help beat the stress than a good workout. I know it’s dark, wet and cold.  But taking the time a few times a week to head to the gym, getting a dose of Endorphins, and running around will really help manage the stress and help, of course, keep control of those calories.
As for food, this is a very tough time for us all.  We are running about, grabbing anything we can or attending Holiday parties and dinners. So a few tips that may help are:
1) Drink a large glass of water before mealtimes or snacks.  This will help with the feeling of fullness and especially when wanting to snack.  It really determines whether it’s food you need or not just hydrating.
2) When plating up a meal, try to think of this: put a protein no bigger than the palm of your hand on your plate, along with either one fistful of carbs like potatoes or squash or 2 fistfuls of complex carbs such as leafy greens.  Add in 1 to 2 thumb-sized amounts of good fats (not saturated) such as olive oil or most nuts.  Easy to remember and helps portion control.
3) Log your food.  I use DotFit.com, but even just writing down a list each day of all the items you eat WILL make you think twice before eating them.  It is proven—those who log their food each day are much more likely to achieve weight loss than those who don’t.
4) Find a workout buddy!  We all need a little push every now and again.  Sometimes it is hard to find the motivation, so find a friend eager to lose weight, get fit or generally stay active.  And make each other accountable.  Tell them you will meet them every Monday night at the gym for example, or lunchtime walk or jog date.
I hope some of these things will help you to start the New Year with a healthy mind and body. This is your life so grab it with both hands and LIVE IT, strongly!

Friday, December 10

Surviving the Holidays – Part 2

Avoiding holiday weight gain means more than just watching what you eat.   There are a lot of other factors that can affect how your body holds on to fat cells during the holiday season.
Stress – The holiday season can be crazy stressful.  Even if it’s a season you enjoy, we’re traveling, seeing family, or just out of our normal routine.  When you are stressed out, your body responds to that stress physically and emotionally.  Our brains often stimulate us to ease these kinds of stress through food.  Make sure to take time for yourself or set aside time specifically for relaxing.  When we’re visiting family, my husband—a chronic introvert—wakes up in the morning but doesn’t immediately join everyone.  He takes about 30 to 60 minutes to read or play a game on his DS (making him much more enjoyable later on!).
Sleep – Some people get to sleep in a lot during the holidays.  These are usually the people who are not in charge of cooking.  And if you have children, I doubt you’re sleeping a minute past 7am on Christmas day.  We’ve discussed previously what a lack of sleep does to your chemical balance.  On top of the chemical reactions, it’s quite hard to make good food decisions when you’re battling fatigue as well.  Spending time with family is important, but make sure to keep your health a top priority.
Activity – Keeping active during the holidays can seem challenging, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be!  Visit with your siblings during a walk around the block.  Or challenge family to some Wii or Kinect games.  Grab some boys and go play football.  I know I’m planning a girls’ day out with my mother, sister and someday-sister-in-law that will begin with a step class and end with some shopping!
Drink Water – This suggestion might surprise you, but this is an important one for me.  Even after over a year of being active and improving my health, I still have the hardest time getting my body to interpret my thirst.  I still misread my thirst as hunger and end up eating when I don’t need to.  Not only will drinking plenty of water help keep you hydrated, but it’s a great way to help fend off cravings!
Do you have any other tips that have worked for you?

Monday, December 6

The Diet Doesn’t Matter

When I use the word “diet,” I mean the food and beverages I eat daily.  However, when most people hear the word “diet,” they think of a set of restrictive rules around what you eat daily with the goal of losing weight.  I am not on a diet, but I discuss my diet regularly on this blog.
Still with me?
I watched an interview with this guy who purposefully built junk food into his daily diet, and managed to lose 15 pounds.  This is totally worth the watch!  He’s a nutritionist who wanted to start a debate around health, weight loss and how the kind of food we eat really affects our bodies.  He ate junk food, but only ate 1800 calories (keeping his physical activity the same).  As it turned out, he lost 15 pounds; his bad cholesterol went down and good cholesterol went up; his blood sugar level also went down.
“What’s this have to do with the holidays?” you ask.
We’re in the middle of the time of year where there is nothing but junk food or high caloric foods as far as the eye can see.   Comfort food and desserts and drinks!   The point is—if you’re really determined to not gain any weight over the holidays—you can still eat all of the foods you love.  If you’re watching your calories, you can literally eat your Christmas dinner and lose weight.  Just because you’re eating calorically dense foods, it doesn’t mean you will gain weight.
Now, you’re definitely not going to be able to eat much of those foods.  Twinkie Diet Guy did not sit down with a platter of Twinkies for every meal.  He probably got like one.  But I think we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do about gaining weight through the holidays.  Our culture tells us that it’s normal, it’s expected.  But it’s not.  You are not helpless nor a victim to holiday weight gain.
Do you find yourself slipping into this mentality?  How do you think it affects your decisions?  How do you pull yourself out of that thinking?

Friday, December 3

Surviving the Holidays - Part 1

We’re starting off our December series on surviving the holidays and temptation with a few tips and tricks!  These are strategies I use, or my friends use, or suggestions I’ve received from people.
Eat Your Veggies!  Even if you’re not tracking anything you’re eating, counting calories, or using any other strategies—if you’re eating eight servings of vegetables in your day, you won’t have as much room for other junk.  It’s easy during the holidays to find vegetables smothered in fat and sugar, but there are plenty of good recopies that can keep vegetables calorically simple.  If you’re loading up on low cal healthy foods, you’ll be less hungry which makes resisting temptation much easier.
Eat Right Part Time!  My counselor had recommended during my Christmas vacation last year to commit to eating at least two meals each day well.  If I knew I was doing brunch with the family, then commit to eating a small but healthy lunch and dinner.  This always made me feel pretty good!  Even if I was feeling a little guilty over the one meal, I could think “at least I did well on the other two!”
Enjoy the Good Stuff!  My friend Katie reminded me of a great philosophy I used to use daily.  If you’re staring at a bowl of chips, it’s easy to tell yourself “I can have these any time.  If want chips next week, I could go buy them.”  If you’re going to indulge, aim for foods that you can’t have that often (like Katie’s homemade sugar cookies!).  It makes passing up on some treats easier.
Have a Plan!  You all know I’m a planner.  Even if you get to a party and suddenly realize your plan flew out the window, you at least started off as well as you possibly could.  And you always run the chance that your plan will actually work!  Lately, I’ve found myself assuming my plans will fall through, so it ends up being a little self-fulfilling prophecy.  I need to start letting my plans work the way that they should, but not feeling too guilty when they do fall through.
How do you survive temptation?  How do you arm yourself to avoid overeating or overcoming temptations?

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