Resist the weight gain!

 Holidays and celebrations don’t have to end up with unwanted extra pounds!

Celebrations and holiday get-togethers
Tips for offsetting the after affects of the big feast

By Susan Arruda

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the average person gains 7-10 pounds? If we’re talking average, then that also means that some people are gaining much more than 10 pounds; HELP!  

Holidays, celebrations, family gatherings and get togethers seem to be synonymous with an abundance of food and high calorie, tasty, tempting food and treats.  There are several ways to approach the big event without suffering the consequences of guilt, regret, bloating, and serious disappointment in your lack of self-control:

Have a Plan of action: First and foremost, you must decide ahead of time what your plan will be; whether you will make efforts to be wise and make health conscious choices, or whether you plan to indulge in some of your favourite treats. I strongly advise that you set some boundaries and refrain from going 'no holds barred' and having no restrictions. If you are going to choose to indulge, consider these tips to help balance and offset the additional calories:

If your plan is to indulge, opt to fast for the day (unless you're diabetic, or have any other serious medical condition) and save your eating strictly for the party.  It's not something you would normally do, but because it's a few and far between practice, it's not a bad idea. This helps you to keep your calories in check and balance your overall caloric intake, especially if you already know ahead of time that you're going to indulge.

Plan to exercise prior to the big event. Try to train for at least an hour, if possible, (as well as exercising regularly in the days leading up to the big event). If you can only fit a short session in, don't discount the power in it.  Even a 15 min. exercise session with elevated intensity, amounts to a lot!  I find that having time restraints can often help you stay more focused and more driven to work harder because you know you're only in it for a short duration of time and therefore motivated to cram in as much as you can. I've had some of my best workouts under these conditions. Try to incorporate some of your preferred training (i.e. weights, yoga) and follow it up with some cardiovascular exercise. - Burn, burn, burn to earn! Want the ability to eat more without packing on the extra pounds? Then you need to balance it out with greater energy expenditure to avoid the consequences of weight gain.

Eat a healthy breakfast, and plan to eat super light throughout your day.

Hydrate: Drink lots of water (flavoured with lemon, cucumber, etc.) or green/herbal teas throughout your day, and if you feel some serious hunger coming on, eat vegetables.

DO NOT wear elastic waistband pants or your "fat pants" to the dinner! This practice just encourages overeating and often, an unhealthy amount of limitless eating that will leave you feeling very unhappy with yourself, after-the-fact.  Remind yourself that you will have the opportunity to eat those beloved treats or your favourite foods again and instead, try to practice moderation. Telling yourself that it's the last time you will ever eat your unhealthy food of choice will only encourage you to eat more of it, and it is not realistic at all!

Make the focus more about the company, the socializing and the people, and not about the food. Catch up with family, friends and enjoy the interaction with people, not food. Consider your main course to be the company and the food to be the side accompaniment.

Allot for alcoholic beverage calories (if you're choosing to drink) and don't consume them on an empty stomach.  Be sure to spread them out throughout your evening and/or be a super slow drinker and make the drink last! Pre-plan a ride home and of course, don't drink and drive! If you volunteer to be the designated driver, you have the perfect reason/excuse not to drink!

If you hosted the festivities, be prepared with containers and doggie bags to give away the leftovers. Be sure to get the unhealthy treats out of sight or out of your house if you don’t have the ability to exercise discipline and moderation with tempting foods. Don't keep them in your home and risk breakdown!

You Dive-bombed! - Coping strategies and tips for the day after the big feast:

If you really bombed with your eating at the party/holiday event and feel bloated and unhappy with yourself the next morning, make some additional adjustments the next day:

Perform cardio on an empty stomach within 30 minutes of waking.

Drink coffee (minus the sugar and cream) on an empty stomach to jumpstart your metabolism prior to your exercise.

Exercise for at least an hour! Try to also take an evening walk to rev your metabolism when it is generally slowing down.

Hydrate and drink lots of water throughout your day to flush toxins and waste out of your system faster. Regular flat and/or carbonated water will help give you the feel of ‘pop' and you can choose to flavour it with slices of citrus fruit or cucumber, herbs, etc. to enhance flavour and add nutritional value. If you drink kombucha, add that to your fizzy water. 

Natural herbal teas are another source of fluids/hydration that can also help push things through your system faster. Fluids combined with exercise will work synergistically to assist in flushing toxins out faster.

Planning is vital for success, however, take heart in knowing that one day of feasting will not undo all your overall healthy habits. The key is to stay positive and make efforts to move forward to correct the damage done ASAP and avoid self-bashing. It accomplishes nothing and can actually set you further back. You can't do anything about the past so strive to keep a realistic perspective and move forward in a positive and productive direction. Remind yourself that health and fitness is a lifelong journey, so strive to make it fun to be fit and make sure it also fits your lifestyle. 

I am confident these measures and tips, when put into practice, can help you minimize the downfall of the big celebratory event.  Remember that discipline is like a muscle, and it gets stronger the more you use it!