It’s here again, the time of year to eat, drink and be merry, but between Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, the parties, the baking, and traveling, it is almost inevitable to come out of the season without an extra five to 15 pounds. As a trainer, health coach, and mother of three, I have spent years trying to balance my healthy lifestyle with enjoying the holidays. There is nothing worst than showing up to a dinner party and somberly making mental note of all the dishes to avoid. Follow these tips and you will stay fit through this holiday season!
Stay Fit Through the Holidays
Keep treats out of the home. It is one thing to indulge at a party or special dinner, but it’s another story to indulge every day for 6-8 weeks. The day after Halloween, I donate my candy; After a party, I send guests home with leftover treats; and when I leave a party, if I am offered leftovers, I stick with the healthier foods.
Stick to your routine. Between all the random holidays, constant social occasions, and shopping, your workouts and healthy diet take a backseat. During this season I plan for 20-40 minute workouts at home first thing in the morning and I keep tons of prepped meals in the fridge like boiled eggs, paleo turkey muffins, steamed/roasted/cut-up veggies, homemade tuna salad, and pre-washed salad. When I am rushing out the door, I just grab some prepped food and then eat it on the go. When it’s party time, my clothes still fit and I don’t feel guilty for indulging.
Stay Fit While Attending Parties
It’s hard to know what will be served at a party, but you can make the best choices when you arrive satisfied and have a game plan for minimizing damage.
Eat normally prior to the party. Have your usual breakfast, lunch, and maybe even a light dinner before heading to the event. Since parties tend to be more carb- and fat- heavy, load up on protein earlier in the day. I might have some egg whites with spinach and turkey bacon for breakfast, a Cobb salad for lunch, and if the party is late enough, grilled chicken with some steamed veggies or a quick protein shake.
Bring something you will enjoy. Instead of wondering if there will be anything healthy to munch on, bring some baked kettle chips, a veggie platter and hummus, fresh fruit, shrimp cocktail, a deli meat platter, or a lighter version of your favorite side dish and/or dessert. Pick something you know you will enjoy and the host will be thankful. Make sure to check in first to make sure they don’t already have the side dish you plan to bring.
Fill up on healthy foods first. My eyes pop open when I enter a party and see cheese platters, corn breads, and decadent dessert tables. The best thing to do is start with high fiber and protein rich foods. Serve yourself some fresh veggies, chicken wings, meatballs, deli meats and eat them slowly while you chit chat. Once you’ve satisfied your hunger monster, go ahead and indulge in anything else you’ve eyeballed. Enjoy yourself, and don’t think about the calories.
Stay Fit While Hosting Parties
If you are hosting, you get to pick the foods so it’s a little easier to make healthy choices.
Offer healthy options. I found that my guests are usually thankful to have a few healthy, but delicious choices. Keep it simple by offering cucumber slices alongside pita chips and hummus, grapes and slices pears with the cheese platter, veggie sticks by the bread and spinach dip. Make cleaner versions of your favorite meals and desserts. I get a ton of my recipes from Danielle Walker and other paleo sites, such as Paleo OMG.
Don’t forget to eat. When I host, I tend to be so busy cooking, cleaning, preparing, and then entertaining that I forget to eat. When everyone leaves, my hunger catches up with me and I find myself gorging on left overs before I curl up into the fetal position in bed. Plan time to eat before the guests arrive and maybe set aside a plate for yourself for when they leave.
Outsource the more decadent foods. If I am making cheesy mashed potatoes or chocolate cake, you better believe I am licking the spoon, bowl, and mixer. Unless it is a dish you absolutely love to make, ask some of your family and close friends to bring a specific side or dessert. You will be less stressed and everyone will get a chance to share their favorite recipes.
Stay Fit While Traveling
The key is to plan ahead. Bring everything you need to stay fit while traveling for the holidays.
Plan to eat. Bring healthy foods you can keep in your suitcase. I drink vegan shakes for breakfast, so I bring my shaker, and portioned protein powder in zip lock bags. I also pack unsweetened dried fruit, nuts, paleo turkey jerky, brown rice cakes, protein bars and herbal teas. If I am staying at a hotel, I will stop at a grocery store to grab fresh fruit, veggie sticks, and water. You want to avoid packaged foods that have preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, and that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fats.
Plan to be active. When I am visiting family, there usually isn’t a ton of time for a workout, but if I can take some time to be active I will. Suggest a walk after meals, offer to pick up food from the store, and definitely help clean up after meals. Clearing tables, washing dishes, and sweeping floors is a great way to burn calories.
Plan to eat out. It is guaranteed we will eat out at least once while traveling. Check the menu before arriving at the restaurant to make sure there is at least one thing you can eat. During the holidays I like to save my calories for parties and the main event. The rest of the time, I eat a clean balanced diet whenever I can.
How do you stay fit during the holidays?