“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat…” I remember singing this every Christmas during my childhood. The adult version is of course, ”Christmas is coming and I am getting fat…” Haven’t we all been there?
I believe it is very important to be able to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty and without letting your health and body goals fly out the window. There is absolutely no point in letting go for two weeks and then waking up on the first day of the new year and feeling horrible about yourself.
The worst part is that we might have worked on our health and body goals throughout the year, diligently, but we only remember how we feel at the end. The Christmas and New Year binge! Then rocking the Santa Claus tummy afterward. Let’s change that, this year!
I have an interesting challenge. My goal is to lose weight during the holidays, instead of putting it on.
So here are my 5 ways of surviving the Christmas holidays:
Go off sugar: Sugar is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to putting on weight and feeling blah on the holidays. Worse, you will find sugar sneaking in from everywhere!
The cocktails and mocktails will have sugar
The Christmas sweets will be loaded with sugar, bebinca, guava cheese, marzipans, etc. (yum…but ugh!)
The Mulled wines and Sangrias
The cranberry sauce
So I start my no sugar challenge a week before Christmas rolls around, by the time the christmas parties start, the temptation has gone.
Another smart way of handling the sugar and sweets is to make your own healthy treats without sugar. There are so many tasty and healthy recipes, eg: When making Marzipans, swap the sugar for honey or Stevia. You can make tasty carrot balls by blending walnuts, almonds, raisins, dates, grated carrots and then rolling them into balls. Add a little nutmeg for that Christmassy feel.
Skip Breakfast: Most of the Christmas action happens in the afternoons or evenings. Inviting friends and relatives over or going to someone else’s home is not a morning event. So skipping breakfast and sipping on hot water or black coffee or green tea instead is a fantastic way of setting yourself up for the day.
Exercise: Getting a good amount of exercise is very important during the holidays. Most holidays are spent sitting around, relaxing, spending time with the family. Which is why getting in at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning is essential. Your options are:
Go for a long slow walk
Do a Tabata workout. 20 seconds of running in the same spot and 10 seconds break repeated 8 times for a total time of just 4 minutes. You can choose a harder exercise depending on your fitness level.
10 squats per minute for 10 minutes. Total squats 100 (It is easier than it sounds)
Feel free to mix and match any of these workouts.
Indulge for only one meal a day: I find this the most useful tip. If I have a dinner party to attend where I will not be in control of what I can eat, then I will have a big salad for lunch. This way I’m getting all my nutrients in with the meal I can control. It also keeps me full because of the fiber from the leaves and fat from the dressing. This way I am maintaining some form of sanity for the holidays.
Indulge when needed: When at a party, enjoy yourself! Eat all the food but be watchful for the quantity. We tend to overeat when there is a variety of food. A spoonful of everything adds up to quite a lot! So stick to a few dishes you like and control the quantity. There is absolutely no need to try everything. “Moderation” is a word used often but is very hard to do. In fact I find it impossible. So what I do is take a small plate and eat with a small spoon. This not only makes you feel like a giant but helps you control your portion sizes.
Remember the holidays are for enjoying. Do not ever feel deprived but maintain a goal so you do not throw away all the hard work done this year. Have a healthy and respectful relationship with food and your body!
Follow these tips and for the first time, lose weight this holiday season!
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