After talking to family and friends, I’ve realized I’m not the only one who finds it hard to stay away from all the goodies and try to keep up with exercise or at least getting up and moving around more during the holiday season. The weather gets colder and the outdoor sports and activities are not readily available like they are in the warmer months. Well, I have a few strategies and tips that have helped me last season and during this holiday season that I’m happy to share.
I am not a health professional. I’m a wife, mom of two great kids, and a food blogger living on Long Island. All tips, opinions, and exercise strategies are just from me and me alone. Before you start any diet or exercise program, be sure to check with your medical professional. I have shared these tips with family and friends and thought some of you may find them interesting or helpful too. See what you think.
Ways to Avoid Overeating and Keep Moving During the Holiday Season
Packing snacks wherever I go.
For an office or large company where lots of holiday gift packages are arriving daily, it’s so hard not to tear these pretty cellophane wrappers and start grabbing the chocolates and all the other stuff that’s in there. Stop! I think it’s so much smarter to bring healthier snacks from home. This way, when I feel the urge to munch, there is always something like granola, granola bars, cereal, fruit (the little bags of apples are great), small bags of chocolate-covered nuts, dried fruits, apple, pears, and oranges. You can find plenty of snacks with fewer than 100 calories. Look for all natural products–they taste better. If someone brings in their grandma’s homemade fudge or chocolate chip cookies, it’s worth trying a small piece or one cookie. But store-bought? Nah, to me, not worth it.
I work from home, but I still prepack snacks at the beginning of the day so I don’t have to look for something when hungry. Even when I’m out and about doing errands, my snacks are with me in the car and in my handbag. I usually have one between breakfast and lunch and one or two between lunch and dinner. It just depends on how many hours between each meal.
So many holiday parties to attend before Christmas.
Last week, my husband had his holiday office party, I had my mommy’s group annual holiday luncheon, and my husband and I met friends for dinner the last three Saturday nights. Two of the Sundays in December we had Hanukkah/Christmas dinners with our family and friends.
I had a strategy for each of those days. I knew each meal was going to be the largest and most fattening ones of the day. Hello! Potato latkes! Need I say more? If any food is my weakness, it’s potato latkes. I love them drenched in apple sauce. My mom makes them the best. We had them at both dinners.
I have to run back to the mall to shop and exercise.
If you’re like me, there is always something you forgot to pick up at the mall. I just love the mall in general. Ever since my daughter was a baby, I would take her in the stroller and we would go right to the mall when it first opened in the morning. We got to know the regulars there. It was so much fun walking with a bunch of people–a special time.
Now, before I even start shopping, I take my little weights and go through the whole mall at a nice pace. When I’m finished I bring my weights back to the car and reward myself with one of my favorite Starbucks Skinny frozen or hot drinks. Always around 100 calories. Then I go shopping. Also, if it’s daytime, I park a little further away.
Basically, I just try to keep moving. I make sure I do a little exercise every day. Even if I am so busy with work and the kids, I try to get in 15 minutes a day of walking around my neighborhood or jumping on the treadmill. (I’m not a gym person.) I do work out with a trainer once a week and I love that. Otherwise, I do it on my own. Sometimes I walk with my friend and it goes by so fast because we don’t stop talking.
This week my daughter comes home from college for winter break. We bundle up and try to get out every morning for at least 20 minutes. If it’s not too cold we go for 30 minutes. Otherwise, I schlep her to the mall and we walk there. She’s going to be 21 years old in just a few months and we are still walking together.
Out with friends for holiday cheer, don’t drink those calories.
It’s very easy to drink up calories in mixed drinks, especially when they are free at a party or events. Those beautiful mixed drinks can be loaded with lots and lots of calories. I would rather have one glass of white or red wine with the meal and enjoy my favorite food and dessert instead of loading up on drinks. Hey, just saying.
Portion control is the key for me.
You have heard it over and over again: portion control. It works for me. It really does. When I’m at a party and my favorite foods are there, I don’t deprive myself. I take small portions of all my favorites and enjoy every bite. This way, you don’t have to feel like you missed out on all the good stuff. Don’t finish something just because it’s on your plate if you really don’t love it. If you really do love something, go back and take a small second helping. It’s a special occasion. Time to enjoy with everyone.
I won’t lie: my favorite things in the world to eat are desserts. Especially chocolate. In fact, I don’t miss a day without at least a small piece of dark chocolate. Hey, there are all these studies saying it’s healthy in moderation. I hope so. Anyway, it’s the holiday; I don’t deprive myself of luscious chocolate mousse pie or my aunt’s famous red velvet cake. I take a small portion. There’s that portion word again. I hear it in all these articles about how to stay on track. But it really works for me. I take a little bit of only my favorites and enjoy every last bite.
Water, water, water, and… seltzer!
I drink water all day. I read in a few places that sometimes when we are bored or we think we are hungry, we are really thirsty. Maybe this is true. I keep my water bottle with me all the time. I drive my whole family crazy because that’s the one thing I don’t like to share. Maybe that’s why my husband and kids like to tease me about this and like to play tricks with my water bottles. They hide them from me whenever they get the chance.
I almost forgot the seltzer part. We drink seltzer at almost every meal. We like it with fresh lemon, lime and my favorite orange slices. Sometimes we just have water with all of the above fruits and it’s so refreshing.
I’ve stopped feeling guilty if I eat too much at one event. It happens to all of us. It’s a new day to eat healthy and keep moving. Well, that’s my take on trying to avoid overeating and keep moving during this exciting and sometimes stressful holiday season. Happy holidays!