Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Weight Gain

The dreaded holiday blahs.

Do you get that, too? You know what I mean...the rich, fattening food, the colder weather, the lack of motivation. And yet now is the time we need to keep most active. Most people I know gain weight during the winter season, and most of it happens during the holidays.

First, there's the Halloween candy that is still being consumed. Plan of attack? Use it on those gingerbread houses your kids want to decorate. Let dust collect on it. Candy looks less appealing all dusty.

Second, there's the turkey and trimming leftovers, including pumpkin pie. Do not feel guilty saving a slice for later and THROWING OUT THE REMAINDER. Do not keep it around. It will go bad fairly quickly for one thing. For another, I have never met a delicious pumpkin pie that likes people to be a healthy weight. All you need is a taste to satisfy the need for creamy, pumpkiny goodness.

Third, if you work outside the home, you can bet everyone else will be pawning off their delectables on their co-workers so they don't have to fight their cravings alone in front of their television while watching The Biggest Loser. Who can resist free treats? Not many.

And fourth, December brings Christmas cookies for Santa, delicious meals during Kwanzaa, and irresistible cakes for Hanukkah. Soon afterward, New Years Eve gives us greasy finger foods and champagne bloat. Not to mention all the carbs, sugar, and salt that goes into the otherwise healthy vegetable dishes prepared for these occasions.

I am not a person who likes to deprive myself, but I have been known to turn down anything that isn't merely unhealthy, but downright cholesterol laden. Fried mozzarella? Nope. Potato chips? Not likely, unless they're baked. Cake heavy on the frosting? I will take half the frosting off my slice.

But I will enjoy a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie (or two if they aren't huge). But here's the thing: I work it off.

This isn't as hard as it sounds. Sure, I go to the gym regularly, but if there's a calorie-heavy meal I know I'll be noshing on, I try to extend my workouts that week. Instead of a half-hour cardio, I'll do an hour. Maybe more. Or I'll go on a run during one of my non-workout days. Or, and I know this sounds strange, I will do heavy housework. Vacuum the stairs. Move the furniture and vacuum underneath. Rearrange my closets. As long as you are moving, you are burning calories.

The best time to increase housework is during the holidays anyway, since it's common to have guests visit.

So my advice during this trying time:

1) Avoid snacking when you aren't hungry. That means no going into the employee breakroom to sneak a doughnut simply because you know it's there!
2) Extend any and all workouts when you know you will be consuming more calories that week
3) Avoid the foods that are the worst for you. Try to fill up on raw veggies and water, save the greasier foods for your "reward," which will be when you're not as hungry so you won't eat as much of it.
4) Try to consume only one or two alcoholic beverages during the parties you attend. If you are uncomfortable without a drink in your hand, juice with a splash of carbonated water is a good alternative.
5) Get out the sponges, the dust cloths, and the vacuum and clean to the beat of your favorite songs.

Hopefully this will help you get through the next couple of months with little to no pain on your part. Happy eating!

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