Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the month of December is not easy. Shorter days, cold, wet weather, holiday parties, out of town guests, travel, tempting holiday treats — all make exercise and eating healthy challenging. As a result, weight gains of 5 pounds or more are not uncommon between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The good news is that December/holiday weight gain is not inevitable. Here are ten suggestions that will keep you on track:
1. Stay mindful of why. Whether you are motivated by a desire to feel better in your body, the wish to prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, or to look great during that vacation you have planned for next summer, it is helpful to remind yourself of your motive. Write down what motivates you and post it where you’ll see it often – how about the fridge?
2. Plan ahead. Take the time to think about the challenges you’ll be facing in the coming weeks and plan accordingly. Winging it is seldom a good idea. Writing out a meal and snack plan before grocery shopping will ensure that you do not run out of healthy food options.
3. Make your own food. If you’ve been invited to a holiday party, offer to bring a vegetable tray or a fruit salad. Once you arrive, don’t be bashful about eating the food you brought.
4. Don’t try and eat less food. Attempting to control your weight by eating less will not work. Your hunger drive cannot be overcome by will power. The key to losing weight is making healthier food choices.
5. Limit alcohol. Alcohol is never your friend if you are trying to control your weight. Not only are alcoholic drinks loaded with empty calories, alcohol reduces your inhibitions and can lead you down a slippery slope of bad choices.
6. Don’t keep your goals a secret from friends and family. They can support you best if they know what you’re trying to achieve.
7. Don’t be hard on yourself. This is supposed to be a season of love and joy – not guilt and shame!
8. Get some form of physical activity every day. This is a great time to check out a few of the many great, free apps that are out there. Maybe try a 10-minute workout or a yoga class without leaving home.
9. Get outside every day for at least a few minutes. Even if this means braving a few raindrops, you’re likely to feel energized and uplifted. Maybe take an evening walk to admire the lights in your neighborhood!
10. Free meal. There are some days when it’s more important that you are just present, enjoying time with friends and family These are not “cheat days” but opportunities for you to enjoy the spirit of the holidays and the company you’re keeping. If you have an extra half slice of pie, we won’t tell. The important thing is that the next day you get back to your healthy diet.