Thursday, January 10, 2008

Weight Loss Tips for the Holiday Season

Weight Loss Tips for the Holiday Season by Joan Jones

Every year, around the middle of November, families gather to celebrate the holidays. Aunt Betty brings her special, decorated cake (the one with REAL cream in the batter), Grandma trots out her fabulous double chocolate fudge recipe and candy and cookies seem to adorn every table and office desk. The holidays are about family get-togethers but food remains at the center of all these events. Not just any food either! Fat-laden, sugary recipes full of calories but tasting oh-do-good!

Even the weather conspires to make us gain weight in the winter when cold and snow can derail the most determined work-out program. With all this against us, is it any wonder many people face January about 10 pounds heavier than they were just two short months before?
It is possible to keep your weight under control during this holiday season. Just follow these practical weight loss tips.

Moderation is the key to avoid holiday weight gain

Back to Grandma’s special fudge recipe. You look forward to it every year, not to mention the fancy holiday cookies and high calorie eggnog! The good news is you don’t have to pass on these treats entirely. If you have a special weakness, go ahead and eat some (and don’t beat yourself up over it!). The watch word here is “some.” Have one piece of fudge or one cookie. Enjoy half a cup of eggnog, rather than a whole cup. You can still sample the treats you love best and still be able to face the scale in the morning.

When you arrive at dinner, take a look at the buffet table and hone in on the low calorie foods. Veggies are low calorie and filling. Even if want you enjoy some of the dips, veggies are a better choice than chips or crackers. Other safe bets are fresh fruit, salads and lean meats, like turkey.
If you fill up on low calorie foods, you can eat all you want of them and you’ll be too full to eat a dozen cookies!

If you drink alcohol, remember to limit how much you drink. Alcohol is loaded with empty calories and a glass or two of wine can make you forget your resolution to eat sensibly.
If you’re going to attend a holiday party and you are bringing a dish, create your own veggie or fresh fruit place with a low calorie dip made with yogurt instead of sour cream. If you’re the one planning the holiday event, make sure there are lots of low calorie options for your guests to choose from. Others who don’t want to gain weight will thank you.

For those who love to cook, check out low calorie, healthy substitutions to try in your favorite recipes, such as 1% milk for whipping up mashed potatoes instead of cream and a heart-healthy butter substitute instead of real butter.

During the holidays, many offices are full of special treats so be prepared by bringing your own healthy treats so you aren’t tempted. Bring extra so you can share!

Remember, the warm glow of the holidays doesn’t come from food, it comes from sharing special times with family and friends. Practice enjoying the moment with mindfulness so you can savor every moment of these special times.

Lastly, if you have a holiday party or event in the evening, eat lightly the rest of the day to save up some calories.

Exercise

During the busy holiday season, it’s hard to stick to your exercise routine but during the winter, especially when you’re stressed and eating more than usual, it’s even more important to take time to exercise.

If it’s snowing out, put on an exercise video or play your favorite music and dance. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. It's the perfect way to burn off all that holiday stress.

Another way to avoid stress during the holidays is to try these relaxation methods:
Sit quietly for at least 15 minutes a day, clearing your mind and doing some deep breathing Try doing a yoga routine to a CD or video Play some relaxing music or put on some holiday favorites and sing along

Holidays can also be a time of loneliness and depression for some people. If this is you, try volunteering during the holiday season. Many charities need help during this time. Serve Christmas dinner to the homeless or collect gifts for foster children or the elderly. Get so busy you don’t have time to think about food.

Get enough sleep.

This may sound simple but when evenings and weekends are packed with busy holiday events, late nights can become routine. Even during regular times, lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. Try relaxing for at least 30 minutes before going to bed to help you unwind. Make a to-do list so you won’t lay awake thinking of all you details you have to attend to.
Don't forget - Enjoy your family and the holidays and don’t stress out if you do have a few extra calories. Instead, go buy yourself a journal and make a list of resolutions for the new year.
Weigh in each morning

Studies have shown that people who weigh themselves every day lose more weight than those who weigh themselves weekly. This also goes for those who just don’t want to gain weight. Whatever you do, don't tell yourself you'll skip the weigh-in until January.

Knowing you are going to face the scale every morning will help you eat moderately. It will also help you catch any weight gains before 2 pounds become 10 pounds.

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