Holiday Survival Tips
No surprise that the average person gains about half a stone in December. It seems like someone is shoving food in your face at every turn: at your kids' school, at the office, and of course at family gatherings. Treats like cookies, cakes, pies, frosted things you can't identify, chocolate covered things of unknown origin, as well as the usual massive holiday meals.
There are parties and feasts right and left and we all tend to overeat. We are also faced with a lack of time, as the holiday season can be extremely busy and stressful. Sound familiar?
There are some simple and effective strategies that will not only help you "survive" the holidays, but you may even emerge in the New Year leaner and fitter than you are right now, as long as you fit in some exercise around the celebrations.
As Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”. When on the move, I always have some food with me year round, but it becomes even more important during the holidays. Do everything in your power to know where you are going, what time you are going to be there, what time will you leave and (most importantly in this case) what food will be there. This is often easier said than done, but that is why we always must be prepared. Have a plan and even a backup plan in place. When you have a plan you are much less likely to indulge in all the sugary stuff. Help yourself with a high quality protein bar, whey protein shake or some almonds when you don’t have access to real food.
Eat Protein First
Did you know that the word "protein" comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "of first importance"? Protein has many benefits but in this holiday context it can save us from excess holiday fat gain. Some great options are turkey, chicken and lean lamb. It will fill you up, make you use carbs more efficiently (less likely to store them as fat) and push up your metabolism due to its thermic effect.
Don't Drink Your Calories
Liquid calories add up very fast. Before you know it you have unknowingly consumed hundreds upon hundreds of calories from pure sugar – soda, juice, squash etc. So avoid all liquid sources of calories all together. This one is easy - if a drink has calories DON'T drink it. There are plenty of non-caloric beverages you can enjoy.
Go Easy On The Booze
While we are on the topic of liquids to not consume… If you’re going to drink then it’s best to stick to red wine or strong drinks mixed with sparkling water and lemon. Make your glass last as long as possible, and stay away from sweet liqueurs, alcopops, and anything with an umbrella. Drink 1 to 2 glasses of water per every glass of alcohol. Not only does alcohol add the dreaded "empty" calories, it sets your hormones up for fat storage. Will a glass of wine or two doom you to obesity? Nope, but the more you limit the booze the more you limit the stress on your belt.
Don’t Arrive Hungry
Don't show up at your party already starving. Without hesitation you can speed through an hors d'oeuvres spread like a reindeer through the night sky. Have a protein-based meal with some veg prior to your arrival. If you don't plan ahead it's like going to the store hungry, you end up buying crap you don't want and more importantly don't need. Kick hunger to the curb before the big event to avoid becoming a holiday human vacuum cleaner.
As long as you manage to keep yourself physically active during the holiday season, you will keep your metabolism humming, and your body will have an easier time burning off all the excess calories. Fitting in a morning workout on the days when you’re expecting a massive dinner would be perfect. If it’s totally impossible, at least make sure you walk as much as you can, play with the kids, have some fun playing Wii or challenge everyone to an arm-wrestling tournament. Just don’t be a lazy bum, and you’ll feel so much better the next day.
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