The holiday season has arrived, and staying with a healthy and fit lifestyle may start to feel like a tight squeeze. That is exactly the feeling we want to avoid when it comes to putting on our favorite jeans come January.
If we aren’t paying attention to our stress level, time management, and our nutrition, we can easily find ourselves in a downward spiral leading to an inevitable weight gain.
On the other hand if we approach this holiday with a strong commitment to our health, and determination to balance out the rest of our responsibilities, we will succeed in starting 2011 off right.
Here are 10 Steps to having a healthier holiday season:
1. Eat a balanced snack or meal every 3 to 4 hours. This will help you to maintain a stable blood sugar throughout the day, which will enable the body to release its fat stores. The first meal should be consumed within the first hour of waking. The last meal or snack should be a little lighter in calories and carbs, and eaten within 1 to 2 hours before going to bed.
Stable blood sugar will also optimize brain function, and stabilize emotions so that you can make better choices through out the day. When it’s time for the holiday family brunches and dinners, you won’t feel the need to pile up your plate.
2. Slow down the digestion process by eating your foods in this order:
Protein • Fat • Carbohydrates
This will better stabilize your blood sugar, and help you to feel satisfied sooner to avoid overeating. Much of the time the fats are already within the protein and carbohydrates sources, so keep it simple by eating the proteins and then the carbohydrates.
3. Add more healthy dish options to any festivity. We all know that preparing holiday meals means that the traditional favorites are to be served, most of which are not even in the ballpark of being healthy. Be resourceful in finding healthy recipes by using the Internet, where there is an abundance of information.
To make an unhealthy situation less impactful:
As a host, offer a choice of both traditional holiday dishes, and healthy dishes so that both you and others can choose to favor both their taste buds, and/or their health goals.
As a guest, offer to bring a healthy dish that you know will support you and possibly others in keeping to their health commitment.
4. Manage your stress by maintaining your sleep schedule. Optimizing sleep will also help to lower your cortisol levels, which can be increasing from the stress of the holidays. Cortisol is a fat-storing hormone that counters the adrenalin release due to stress. Having a structured sleep schedule is powerful preventative measure from feeling sluggish the next day, and inevitably making poor food choices to get a quick fix of energy.
5. Keep yourself hydrated through out the day. Drinking more water will support your digestion, and many other physiological processes so that you have higher levels of energy throughout the day. This can help prevent making poor food choices.
The winter months often means drier air that we breath, which can easily dehydrate our cells and making us more susceptible to germs and bacteria that cause infections and viruses. Drinking sufficient amounts of water helps keep our cells hydrated, and therefore, better protected so we don’t get sick.
6. Exercise at least three days per week doing a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity, 30 minutes of resistance training to strengthen the major muscle groups, 10 minutes of core work, and 10 minutes of stretching. This is an ideal structure as general recommendation for to achieve a health benefit.
7. Do not feel obligated to eat everything on your plate. If you do, it can lead to an added feeling of resentment and guilt because of the extra calories that you didn’t want or need. On the other hand, we can stay true to ourselves and feel better at the end of the day by choosing to eat just enough to satisfy us, not anyone else.
8. Moderate alcohol intake. It is considered empty calories, which means that your body can not metabolize it into immediate energy, or for any other nutritional value. Therefore, it is most likely converted to fat.
If you drink alcohol, try playing a different kind of drinking game over the holiday with yourself. The objective is to see how long you can make one drink last over the course of an event. The prize? You don’t have to go out and buy new pants with a larger waist size at the end of the holiday.
9. Incorporate a daily regimen of a high quality multi-vitamin & mineral, and an essential fatty acid (Omega-3). Deficiencies of many essential nutrients are found in the majority of the population, even with a complete diet. These deficiencies can be a source of your cravings for sweets, and/or overeating.
10. Make a daily time for you to decompress. The holidays are often busier with extra work & family obligations, leaving little time for you. Giving yourself some space to de-stress, and breathe in a quiet space will set you up to handle life with more peace. This will help prevent emotional eating that usually makes us feel worse.
These tips are ideal for all throughout the year, and especially important to comply to for obvious reasons during the holiday season to not end up in a Whole come the New Year. You can absolutely still enjoy yourself and maintain your health & fitness.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday to you and your loved ones.
Adam Friedman, CSCS, CN, CMT is a Kinesiologist, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritionist, and Certified Massage Technician. He is the founder of Advanced Athletics, Inc. located right next door to the world famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, on the corner of Sunset Ave, and Hampton Drive, one block east of Main Street. To schedule a complimentary assessment please call 310.396.2100 or email Adam at advancedathletics.com. Otherwise, to learn more, visit www.advancedathletics.com.