With holiday parties and seasonal celebrations right around the corner, it’s time to break out the little black dress, patent leather pumps and sparkling jewelry. But wait a minute, what if your festive frock is a bit tight? With a few helpful hints you’ll be able to fit into your black dress in no time and keep off the one to two pounds most people gain over the holidays. And while one or two pounds might not seem like a lot of extra weight, if you gain two pounds every holiday season, in 10 years you could be 20 pounds heavier.
Shorter days and longer nights can make us feel tired, depressed and vulnerable to calorie-laden comfort foods. Unfortunately most comfort foods, such as chicken pot pies and macaroni and cheese, are high in fat and calories and usually contain simple carbohydrates that easily get stored as fat in the body.
Increasing protein intake will help control your mood, appetite and cravings. Protein-rich foods take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates allowing you to feel fuller longer. Protein also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which helps stabilize energy levels throughout the day. Protein-rich foods include lean beef, chicken, seafood, low-fat dairy products, beans, grains, and small amounts of nuts.
Get active now
Don’t wait until the New Year to start your fitness plan — start it now! Prioritizing and planning are the keys to preventing holiday weight gain. Living in Southern California, we have the best winter weather around. Our diverse climate allows us to swim in the ocean in the morning, bike along the beach at lunchtime, and hike in snow-covered mountains in late afternoon.
Need help starting your fitness plan? Try joining a group for support, structure and motivation. San Diego County has a great selection of fitness groups and clubs, including the largest triathlon club, biking clubs, hiking clubs and running clubs. Now is a great time to test out local gyms since attendance at fitness centers and yoga studios is usually lower during November and December, so the instructors can give you personalized attention.
Limit liquid libations
Holiday cheer can add excessive empty calories and add up to stubborn excess pounds if you’re not careful. Making better choices can keep holiday spirits high and weight gain low. For example, a tempting mug of “grown-up” eggnog with whipped cream can cost you almost 500 calories, a shot of whiskey, vodka or gin only contains approximately 120 calories and a four-ounce glass of wine is 150 to 200 calories.
But alcohol isn’t the only liquid calorie culprit during the holidays. Hot chocolate made with whole milk has about 190 calories and that’s not counting the mini marshmallows floating on top. Fruit juices can also pile on the calories at 200 calories per serving. Try limiting alcoholic and high caloric beverages by replacing them with sparkling water garnished with fresh lemon or add sparkling water to your cocktail drinks and cut the calories by half.
Things can get a little hectic during the season making it easy to mindlessly snack throughout the day. Overloading our daily routine with shopping, running errands, parties and family gatherings causes us to skip meals, leaving us ravenous by the time we do sit down to eat. On busy days, try to slow down, don’t skip meals, pack a healthy snack and make time to enjoy a sit-down meal with family and friends.
Take time out for yourself and relax. Go to a yoga class and enjoy the mind-body connection, you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed. Or take some time for yourself and your family at a park or in the mountains, enjoy the calming power of nature.
Be sure to get your zzzs
Adequate sleep is vital to good health, especially during the holidays. Getting plenty of rest will help keep your weight in check. The amount of sleep you need depends on how you feel when you awake. Ask yourself if you feel well rested in the morning and determine if you can wake up without an alarm clock most mornings.
For a more restful night’s sleep, stop watching TV or using the computer an hour before bedtime, create a peaceful bedroom and skip the nightcap. Initially alcohol might relax you, but later on, alcohol interrupts sleep by reducing REM sleep and increasing middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Also avoid caffeine and nicotine, both of which may disrupt adenosine signals, the brain chemical that helps induce sleep.
Following these simple tips will help keep your weight in check and keep the compliments about your little black dress coming throughout the holiday season.
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