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Staying Fit During the Holidays

23 Dec

So you’ve worked hard all year long to turn your body into a finely-tuned calorie torching machine right?  But now the holidays have rolled around…cocktail parties galore…how do you survive? You certainly don’t want to come off as a grinch or a party pooper, but you’ve sweated blood and tears for this body and you don’t want to start all over in 2012 AGAIN.  Below I’ll share some of my tried and tested tips to surviving the holiday season.

Getting enough exercise is crucial for maintaining that killer physique.  Between buying and wrapping presents, finding those killer pair of heels and party hopping, it can be hard to hit the gym as hard as before, correct?  If you’re hosting or going to a small gathering, suggest a group walk post dinner, walks are a great distraction-free way to focus on the conversation and not be distracted by the football game that’s on or washing up the dishes.  Fresh air is always good for the soul.  Take a family (0r couple or friend) getaway to a place that encourages fitness like a fitness spa (like Fitness Ridge) or a ski trip. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the company of friends AND get some exercise. Just go easy on the apres-ski drinks!  Trust me, I know it can be hard to keep up on your pre-holiday routine, but even if you make it to the gym for a 20 minute run, that’s better than nothing!

A cardinal rule of any party would be to NEVER go famished to a party.  If you starve yourself throughout the day “in preparation” for the party, you’ll gourge yourself on food once you get there. You’ll have no idea how it was prepared and you’ll eat more than if you’d eaten beforehand.  Sometimes it can backfire, and you’ll end up eating more calories than you would’ve the whole day if you’d just eaten responsibly throughout the day.

Eating can be a challenging piece of it. You don’t want to offend Auntie Besty by declining her famous Pumpkin Cheesecake, but you also know that it will go directly to you hips (or spare tire). If you have the willpower to just have a bite or two (they say after 3 you don’t have the same experience anyway), go ahead and have those few bites.  But if you know you can’t resist eating the whole slice (or TWO!), opt to slice a microscopic piece AND make sure to forgo the vanilla ice cream.  Better yet, just have a bit or two off your sweetie’s!  You shouldn’t completely forgo sweets during this fabulous season, but you also can’t eat every dessert that comes your way.  You have to pick and choose what you want.  Before you go to the party, decide on your priorities, would you rather have the hor’doreves or are you really in a dessert kind of mood? You really can’t have both.  If there are 3 dessert options to choose from which one do you REALLY want or can you get itty bitty tastes of each?

If it’s a buffet, peruse the whole table BEFORE you get your plate, pick what you want, then go back to the plate stack.  Try to aim for half of the plate to be stacked with veggies and fruits.  Avoid processed meats and foods.  Also try to avoid the refined grains.  The goal is to enjoy the buffet, but limit it to one trip to the line and get only what you really want that first time. A little bit of a lot of different types of food is more interesting for your palette anyways.  This goes without saying, but only one plate people!  You’re eating for one, always (yes even if you’re pregnant)!

If you are going to a cocktail party, snack on healthy snacks about an hour before you head out.  This will keep you fuller and you’ll be able to better resist the temptation of those delicious-looking crab cakes!  A handful of almonds or a few celery sticks with almond butter will keep you satisfied for a few hours!  If you’re a female at a cocktail party, your job just got easier. Pick an awesome handbag or clutch that doesn’t have a strap. Therefore you have one hand occupied by holding your bag and the other, a drink (see below for alcohol tips).  No free hand for snacks…problem solved!  Men? Well you’re on your own, maybe offer to hold you’re lovely lady’s purse!  Who says chivalry is dead?

Alcohol…the necessity to every holiday party right?  Not necessarily!  There are some holiday cocktail parties that I never touch the stuff!  If you plan a race around the holidays, it is a great reason to swear off alcohol!  Not only will you avoid extra calories, people will admire your dedication to your races!  A simple “oh I have x race coming up and I’m trying to stay hydrated” typically keeps you from getting strange looks.  Other options include seltzer water (with or without fruit juice) or some type of nonalcoholic beverage.  Just note that some “virgin” drinks do not equal calorie-free!  The best option is to stick with water.  Here’s my preach for the post: if your friends can’t respect your decision to not drink or limit it to one drink, then they’re not really your friends.  Besides, peer pressure to drink should never be tolerated outside of the college years, and even then it’s ridiculously stupid!

One of my fool-proof strategies if it is a cocktail party followed by dinner, is to drink seltzer water throughout cocktail hour and then have one fabulous glass of red wine with dinner.  You get a great taste and don’t feel bad in the morning (for several reasons).  Another option is to have an alcoholic beverage first and then drink water or seltzer the rest of the night. Just do yourself a favor and steer clear of tonic water. It’s loaded with calories!!!!

It is never good to deprive yourself of what you’d like, but everything has to be in moderation.  Make the decisions responsibly, have the veggies sticks at the party, but skip the dip. Have that glass of champagne, but then forgo the pigs-in-a-blanket.

But, as in life, there are always bound to be slip-ups.  Don’t beat yourself up the next morning when you realize you ate way too much or had a little too much vino.  We’re human, we’re prone to mistakes, don’t ruminate on it.  Just resolve to do better next time and move on.  In other words…hit the reset button.  We all want to have a rocking holiday season, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a New Year’s resolution that wasn’t “I want to loose the (fill in the number) of pounds that I put on in the last 2 months”????  How about setting a resolution to climb that mountain that you’ve had your eyes on?

Happy holidays everyone and keep sweating!

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