It begins with the displays of Halloween candies (oh, those cute little candied pumpkins!), and ends with New Year’s Day stuffed-turkey sandwiches sized big enough for Paul Bunyan. The problem: add in the holiday cookie exchange snacks, the Thanksgiving Day meal topped off with pecan pie (plus a week’s worth of leftovers) and all those Christmas food gifts, and you just may feel as if you need clothes sized for Paul Bunyan, too!
Like many of us, I have ridden the roller-coaster of holiday weight gain more times than I want to admit. We tell ourselves we’ll have “just a taste” of Cousin Mabel’s famous five-layer caramel-chocolate-fudge cake. And then it’s “just a sliver more,” until the entire cake is (gulp) gone. And who can prepare a full Thanksgiving feast without tasting as they go? Not to mention the desire not to waste all those leftovers.
Make a New Game Plan to Battle the Bulge
1. Make healthy snacks in advance.
Throughout the holidays, make a pact with yourself to keep healthy snacks always available. Keep your fruit bowls filled with your favorite fresh fruits, from crispy Granny Smith apples to juicy pears. Lightly steam a variety of fresh vegetables, cool, and refrigerate in see-through containers. Keep them in the front of your fridge, so that they’re the first in line of attack!
2. Make it a family affair when it comes to healthy eating.
Think your children will feel “deprived” if you skip the platters of Christmas cookies and candies this year? Anyone who has suffered the embarrassment and depression of life as an overweight child can tell you that you’re giving your children a true gift by avoiding those foods: the gift of health, including a healthy weight. That’s a gift that will sustain them for a lifetime. Make sure to keep their favorite healthy snacks easily available: mini carrots to crunch on, fresh “belly button oranges,” as children sometimes call them. Those are treats just as real (perhaps even more real) than preservative-filled, sugar-saturated candy canes.
3. Put exercise on your to-do list.
“Oh, but I don’t have time to exercise,” I used to explain during the holidays. “I’ve got shopping for the relatives, cookies to bake for the cookie exchange and presents to wrap for the office staff. Plus I have to decorate the house, and try some new recipes for the holiday dinner party, and…”
You can probably come up with your own list of excuses for skipping the exercise routine this year. But aren’t you worth your investment of time? Don’t you matter as much as — and more than — a batch of saturated fat cookies filled with sugar and calories and carbs? And do you really need to try out all those recipes? Look through your list of excuses, and put yourself on your to-do list at the very top. You deserve it.
Tip: If you have family or close friends, ask them to help you stay accountable to sticking to your exercise routine by joining you. Take a family hike, start a new family tradition of walking around in the evening to see the Christmas lights, and persuade a friend to try a relaxing yoga class with you at the local gym. And this year, when New Year’s Day comes, start off the New Year in dedicated diet style with a platter of thinly sliced white turkey meat, veggies and fresh fruit for dessert. Now you’re ready for a sizzling, shapely start to the new year!