Keeping your focus during the holidays.

holiday food

 

Now that Halloween is behind us, the next 2 months will bring all the festivities of the holiday season. In between your busy schedule will come parties and delicious, but not so healthy food which can easily throw your health plan for a loop.  Does this mean you have to put your health and fitness goals on hold until January 1st? Absolutely not! Having a plan will assist you in staying on track and achieving your goals. I will share some of the tips that I used while losing weight and still use today to navigate the season.

First, never go to a party or event hungry. Always eat a nutritious, healthy meal or snack before leaving home. If you are taking a dish to share, make it something on your plan and healthy so you can fill up on it and not the other high calorie offerings. Go to the function “fashionably late”, after the food has been picked over and is not so appealing. Be mindful of your food choices and portions if the worse case scenario happens and you have to choose from a menu. Choose the best options offered and fill up on salads and vegetables. I have even been known to pull food out of my secret stash when faced with unhealthy choices. Lastly, use this time to be a social butterfly and mingle, not hang out at the buffet table.

Secondly, parties and events usually mean late nights hence loss of sleep. Losing sleep is well known to have a direct impact on performance and weight loss goals. According to a 2004 study, getting less than six hours of sleep a night increases your chance of obesity by 30%. It does this by disrupting our hormones. It decreases leptin which manages satiety and increases ghrelin which regulates our hunger. Sleep deprivation also increases our cravings for high fat, high carb foods by making our brain’s pleasure center more receptive to food as a reward. Finally, it impairs our body’s production of cytokines and antibodies which help to fight off infection and illnesses.

My third tip is to keep exercising. A busy schedule usually offers you the opportunity to allow your workouts to slip down on your “to do list”. One missed workout makes it much easier to miss more. Exercise is a well known stress reliever and who doesn’t need to relieve stress during the holiday season? I certainly understand that sometimes it is out of your control. Just don’t use a busy schedule as an excuse to skip. Treat your gym time as a commitment and a time to do something good for yourself. If you find you must skip then there are plenty of body weight exercises you can do  at home. While brushing your teeth do a wall sit or when watching TV how about some  body squats? Pushups are a great exercise to burn calories when you are short on time.  Take the stairs when possible and avoid a crowded, germ filled elevator. If you need other body weight exercise ideas ask Jerry-he’s full of them!

Finally, a few words about alcohol and the effect it has on your metabolism. If you know me at all, you know that I no longer drink alcohol since I started my journey. I know this approach though is not for everyone. I will share briefly some of the effects alcohol has and then you can make an educated choice on when and how much to drink. The body metabolizes alcohol differently than food. Alcohol has no nutritional value and cannot be stored. One standard drink contains roughly 14 grams of alcohol.  Every gram of alcohol contains 7 empty calories. You can do the math.  It demands immediate attention to be broken down resulting in any food consumed to go straight to storage. Furthermore, alcohol impairs our body’s ability to burn fat as a fuel source. Sounds like a no win situation to me! At first, I did miss drinking socially with friends. However, once  I realized the impact alcohol had on weight loss and my goals it became easier for me. The other idea that I keep first in my mind is “You are what you eat”.  We all know basically what that means. What you eat impacts how you feel and function each day.  If you choose to partake then drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed and limit your intake. Oh and it also means more exercise to attempt to burn off those additional empty calories.

That’s it! Consider implementing one or all of these tips into your plan to keep moving forward and reaching your goals during the next couple of months. You might really have something to celebrate in the New Year!

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