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weight loss during the holidays

The Dieter’s Guide to Weight Loss During the Holidays

It’s the holiday season. The time of year when families and friends get together to share thanks, love, laughter – and maybe even some presents and a little bit of aggravation. It’s also the time of the year when there’s food everywhere you turn. You may encounter a hidden vegetable or fruit tray here and there, but for the most part, you’re likely to find food that’s high in calories, short in beneficial nutrients, and bad for your waistline. Weight loss during the holidays? It’s seems like an oxymoron.

Many people resign themselves to the “fact” that the holidays mean weight gain. They give in to temptation and then vow to lose any gained weight after the holidays are over; but that doesn’t have to be you. While it’s okay – and perfectly normal – to indulge here and there, you don’t have to let yourself get completely off track. Here are a few tips to keep you on the right path – and your pants comfortably buttoned – this holiday season.

Eat Before You Go

Most holiday parties fall around dinnertime. If a sit-down dinner isn’t served, there are often plenty of appetizers around the room to keep you snacking all night long. If you go to a party hungry, your ability to resist temptation decreases dramatically. Prepare yourself by eating a healthy meal before you head out to a holiday event. Give yourself enough time to enjoy a proper meal at home. That way, you’ll feel more satisfied and you’ll be ready to mingle.

Bring Your Own

If eating before the party isn’t an option, bring your own dish. Tell the host or hostess that you’d love to pitch in and make a dish that you can enjoy without veering too far off of your diet plan.

Host the Party

If it’s a feasible option for you, offer to host a party. When you host, you have more control over the menu, so you can make healthy dishes that your guests will enjoy, but you’ll feel good about eating.

Ditch the Drinks

Holiday parties are known for the cocktails. Pumpkin martinis, peppermint shooters, and eggnog are everywhere you turn, but these drinks are often more damaging to your waistline than the dessert tray. Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per party and try to choose something that’s not loaded with calories. A wine spritzer or a glass of champagne is a better choice than eggnog.

Pick Your Treats

Getting through the holidays without indulging a little is nearly impossible, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat everything that’s in front of you. Choose a few treats that are worth the splurge – your mom’s chocolate cake or your aunt’s snickerdoodle cookies – and skip the rest. If it’s something you can have all year, don’t use this time to splurge; but if it’s something that only comes around during the holidays, allow yourself the treat.

Chew Gum

When you’re mingling at a party, sometimes it’s tempting to pick at the cheese or crackers or have another scoop of dip just because it’s there. Instead, chew on a piece of gum. When you’re chewing gum, you’re less likely to just mindlessly pop food into your mouth.

Ramp Up Your Workout

Although you can’t outrun your fork, ramping up your workouts will give you a little more wiggle room in your diet. Add a few workouts to your week to help burn off some of the extra calories you’re taking in. If family or friends are visiting from out of town, include them in the workout – go for a walk or a hike – instead of using them as an excuse to skip the workout altogether.

Quick Tips to Stick To Your Exercise Routine through the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time – you’re shopping, you’re traveling, you’re going to parties, you’re hosting parties, and you have family and friends visiting from out of town. It’s really easy – and tempting – to say “you know what, I’m just too busy to exercise during the holidays, I’ll get back on track after the New Year”, but resist the urge!

Nixing your workout routine is a quick way to pack on the pounds, especially because you’re likely to overindulge in the food department over the next few weeks. Another problem is that if you let yourself fall out of your routine, it’s so much harder to get back into it once the New Year arrives. Instead of foregoing exercise completely, adjust your routine so that it fits into your holiday schedule. In addition to minimizing the potential for holiday weight gain, regular exercise can also reduce your stress levels so that you’re able to tackle your to-do list with greater ease.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

Schedule your workouts like you would any other commitment and treat them as such. You wouldn’t blow off lunch with your best friend at the last minute, would you? So don’t blow yourself off. Literally, write your workouts down on your calendar or put reminders in your phone and stick to it. You may have to juggle some things around or wake up earlier to find the time to exercise, but it will be worth it.

Tip #2: Mix it up

During the holidays you may not be able to hit your local gym 6 days a week like you usually do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Use what you’ve got and workout whenever and wherever you can. If you’re traveling, go for a walk or hit the local gym and see if you can score a free week pass. If you have houseguests, ask them if they want to go for a hike or a bike ride to see the town.

Tip #3: Combine your commitments

On the days you have prior commitments, turn those commitments into exercise. If you’re getting together with your siblings, nieces and nephews, turn it into an adventure. Go hiking or sledding or swimming at an indoor pool instead of going out to lunch or sitting around the house. If you turn family time into an activity, you can kill two birds with one stone.

Tip #4: Adjust your expectations.

You may not be able to get in hour-long workouts every day during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Many people take an all-or-nothing approach to exercise, and that’s counterproductive. Just because you can’t fit in an hour of exercise doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Do circuit exercises – which combine cardio exercise with strength training – for 20 minutes. You’ll scorch more calories in less time, getting more bang for your buck.

Tip #5: Partner up

It’ll be easier to quit your routine if you feel like you’re the only person in the world staying on track during the holidays. Instead of going it alone, make a pact with a friend or family member to hold each other accountable. You can schedule workouts together or just make it a point to check in with each other every day – or a few times a week – to make sure that you’re sticking to your routine. When you’re accountable to someone else, you’re less likely to veer off track.