Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday fun without the holiday fat - you can do it!

If Santa can do it....

We are only a week away from Christmas.

We love the food, and the company, and the cheer....we just hate the extra pounds it always brings. Who wouldn't?

Ever wonder if it's even possible to stay fit and lean throughout the cookie, baklava, cider and wine filled holiday celebrations? You bet it is! Keep reading and get your holiday survival skills polished!

1. Look back in pride and keep your results:

This year I've seen very dramatic transformations among my clients. Girls like Yana, Raya and Iva, Milena and Petya, Diliana, Ilina, Nelly, Sam... I look back at all the hard work those girls put in and I know they appreciate the health, joy and happiness they get to experience every day because they have made huge body transformations. I know they all look back in pride and they will use their new skills to control how much they eat, what treats they enjoy and how much they move.

If you've put in the hard work to pack your gym bag, train, eat right and pay attention to recovery, you have everything you need in your holiday tool bag to maintain your weight during the festive season. Just remind yourself how much you've achieved this year, and keep it for the next.

2. Get real about the numbers:

I recently read somewhere that 50% of the annual weight gain is accumulated during the holidays. In my own experience, most clients who take a break from diet and exercise during the holidays come back with 5-10 lbs of extra weight that we fight off till the end of February. Sugar indulgence, extra calories and alcohol all add up and before you know it your immune system is suffering, your moods become unstable and the fact that you can't zip up your pants doesn't help.

Remember the golden rule: a couple of holiday meals won't do anything negative to your body - 2 weeks of parties and uncontrolled eating will do enough damage to keep you busy with a whole new body transformation.

3. Move, move, move

If you are already following a structured exercise program and if you can fit it within the holiday schedule, more power to you. If you find that you cannot stick to your program, you can't find the time to go to the gym, your parent's guest room is too small, your hotel room floor isn't inviting - that's ok. The holidays are a time to break out of your normal daily routine. Just make a commitment to do some physical activity daily - whether it's walking, trying a new dance video, joining your cousin for yoga in the living room or building a snowman with your kids. 1 hour a day will make sure your insulin sensitivity doesn't worsen and calories have somewhere to go. Movement will keep you mobile and help you avoid common holidays aches and pains. I hate to see people come back with low back pain because they didn't stretch for 3 weeks. Don't do the maximum, but do what's possible!

4. Plan for the most delicious foods

If you know your mom has the best pumpkin pie, then don't eat a sandwich for lunch. Think of sugar and calories as a finite allowance: you have a certain amount to spend on your menu and no more. Spend it on cookies for breakfast, a sandwich with lunch and potato salad with dinner and you can kiss both that pumpkin pie and your abs good bye! It's pretty easy to know when and what you will be offered to eat, by maneuvering through calories and sugar like a pro you can have your cake and eat it too! Have a low carb breakfast and lunch, fill up on veggies and delicious satisfying clear soups and then go for your favorite desert with joy! You may find that strategy so liberating that you will be excited to go partying instead of dreading it!

5.Sip slowly

Remember last year? You went from one house to the next and before you knew it, you'd had 4 drinks and 3 small pieces of cake. A couple of weekends of that now and you may end up with a couple of extra pounds. Alcohol has a few ways to sabotage your physique: first it has calories, second it makes you hungry and helps you overeat, and third it may increase food sensitivity and cause inflammation. Not your dream scenario. Since you will probably be drinking, make sure that you go for wine or light beer. Stay away from punch and other sweet drinks. It's also wise to eat a small amount of protein and fat before you have alcohol - here is where bacon stuffed mushrooms and slices of cheese come to save the day!

6. Avoid overeating

Еаsy for me to say - I haven't been at your family's party!

In Mindless Eating, a great book on eating behavior, scientists report that when in the pleasant company of 7 or more, we can eat twice as much food as we normally would! Add up the treats and you are looking at some couple of thousand calories per meal. Over a few weeks you are looking at a new belt hole. By all means, please enjoy a delicious meal, but be nice to your stomach and don't stress it by overeating. The more people you are around, the more likely you are to overindulge. Keep that in mind and you will do great. Here are some useful tips my clients use to control how much they eat per meal:

  • Chew gum: it will prevent you from eating out of boredom. 
  • Never go to a party hungry. It helps to have some hard boiled eggs, raw nuts or cold cuts right before you go. The protein will keep you from eating too much right away.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially between drinks of alcohol
  • If you are the hosts of a party, always send your guests home with leftovers. This way you don't end up with half a pie in your fridge that you have to resist for the next few days.
  • Get only one helping of your favorite foods. 
  • Use smaller plates, cups and glasses, this way you will naturally control portions.
  • Always start eating last and finish eating last. It can be a small game you play with the rest of the guests that they don't even have to know about.
  • Share deserts. C'mon, be nice, it's Christmas!
Enjoy your Holidays, and stay fit! XOXO

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