This is the time of year where we tend overdo it with pretty much everything; a little too much decadent food, a couple of extra drinks, and far too many holiday parties to attend, so much that it may leave you feeling pretty bloated. Today we’re going to look at ways to avoid the typically holiday weight gain (and the coinciding bloat) and also how to get back on track if you’ve already done too much celebrating.
The entire month of December tends to be one big blur for most of us; the shopping centers are packed with people, workloads tend to increase and we go from one event to another. There are however, several ways to keep on track during this hectic time and still be able to stay healthy and feel great too. For starters make sure to get your rest, although your schedule may be a bit off these days it is important to get a full night of restful sleep each night (for tips on getting a good night’s rest, see my previous post “Sleep: Are you getting enough?”). When you’re rested you’ll have more energy to get through this busy time and still manage to keep a positive attitude with a big smile on your face. It’s also a good idea to keep your meals as balanced as possible, although this can be challenging at parties or restaurants remember to do the best you can. You always have the option of eating a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything, this is a good strategy during this time of year as you’re able to try a few bites of delicious food without going overboard on any one particular thing. When you do get the chance to eat at home or to brown bag your lunch, choose the healthiest options possible and be sure to focus on lots of non-starchy vegetables like sautéed leafy greens, salads and grilled mushrooms, and lean proteins like tofu, seitan or fish (if you’re into that). Be sure to watch your portions of any prepackaged foods too because the calories and fat really do add up.
Although you may be very busy, it’s good to stay consistent with your workouts, you may not have the time to get to the gym everyday or workout for a full 45 minutes and that’s ok, the key here is to work around your current schedule to make it as easy on yourself as possible. If you’re short on time, why not try HIIT cardio? All you need is 20 minutes to work up a good sweat and burn a ton of calories. If you’re looking to lift weights then try lifting a heavier load for less reps and take shorter breaks between sets and be sure to workout separate body parts on separate days that way it’ll keep your workouts shorter. If you’re looking for a more gentle type of workout try a yoga class or pop in a DVD (you can find them everywhere on the cheap, or go for a walk outside to take in the scenery or take the family ice-skating. This is a seasonal favorite for many and you can get a great workout while spending time with loved ones). My favorite workout these days is hot yoga; I only go once per week on Friday right after work, it’s a challenging workout but I feel so relaxed after and it’s a great way to start the weekend. The rest of the week I try my best to stick with my morning at home workouts, but some mornings (especially the day after a holiday party) it can be a bit rough getting up at 6am to exercise so I just do what I can each day, and sometimes that means choosing sleep over exercise.
Let’s say you’ve unfortunately enjoyed a few too many hors d’oeuvres and a couple of festive cocktails and today you’ve got that dreaded bloat feeling; it’s the worst, you feel full, heavy and weighed down all at the same time! There are a few strategies that you can try out to get rid of that awful feeling. For starters drink lots of water, if you can, cut out alcohol, juices, soft drinks and creamy “coffee” drinks and if you need a little caffeine boost opt for green tea. The next step is to exercise more specifically though do cardio; you may not feel too great bouncing around at first, but once you’re done you’ll feel way better. Try to also focus on eating a clean diet for at least 2 consecutive days where you eat lot of produce, some whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats, but as always be sure to watch your portions. It may take a few days to get back on track and feel normal again, but hang in there and don’t panic, you know what you’re capable of and you can always get back to where you once were. Most of the time it’s really not as bad as we think; if you happen to overdo it for a few days or even a couple of weeks, once you get back into a healthy routine you will quickly start feeling the difference.
It’s a huge challenge to keep a good attitude and to keep healthy during this hectic time of year, but you can make the choice to stay that way and keep at it. I like to think of this as a time to really appreciate loved ones and the work we pour into our relationships; although the stores are packed with people, take a moment to appreciate the effort that you put in to finding or making their gift, think of how happy they’ll be when you present them with something a little extra special, you’re treating them to something that they wouldn’t treat themselves to normally. Look at all the positives the holidays offer, whether you give a gift or share a meal, take time to reflect on how special it really is and how important these traditions are. This is also a great time to think about giving back, maybe get involved in a charitable organization and volunteer if you can or donate food to a local shelter, there are so many ways that you can help so find a cause that means something to you and lend a helping hand. However you choose to spend this time of year, remember to go easy on yourself and enjoy all the great experiences coming your way, if you are good to yourself and good to others, you’ll feel amazing both inside and out!
Start It, Finish It