THE BLOG
12/12/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2013

Holiday Time: Time to Pay Attention

Holiday weight gain can be avoided if you are smart, organized and committed to following these simple steps. This is the time of year when the extra calorie consumption begins. With Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine's Day and then a small break until Easter, it can be a major feat to not put on weight during the holidays. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite and effective tips.

Begin by adopting these habits today so you have them well-established before you make another New Year's resolution to lose weight.

Aim To Maintain

Aim to maintain your weight instead of losing weight. Trying to stay on a restricted program over the holidays is a sure bet to fail. No one wants to feel left out, especially when it comes to holiday yummy favorites. Help yourself succeed with positive and specific self-talk. For example, if you tell yourself you'll eat only a spoonful of dressing, a shot of eggnog or half a slice of apple pie, you're more likely to enjoy the experience and savor the flavor. Those who say, "No, I can't have that, I'm on a diet," are likely to create a huge craving and eat the whole pie!

Map Out Your Meals

My Sunday Set-Up routine is exactly how I have been able to map out my meals every week. Our schedules are hectic enough, and when you add meal prep to the list, most of us will let the finger do the talking (that means "take out," for those who don't remember the commercial). Having your healthy foods like broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice, quinoa, boiled chicken, grilled tofu, chopped carrots, red cabbage, boiled red potatoes, ready-to-eat greens and boiled eggs are just a few examples of the Sunday Set-Up prep. Getting organized on the weekend with your ingredients, recipes and the all-important plan of what we will be making dinner each night of the week is priceless. Talk to any mom or dad, and we all know that dinner time can be stress time. Having food ready to go is also the solution for breakaway breakfasts or bag lunches. When you are organized ahead of time for eating and snacking, you will make good choices. Creating this healthy habit is easy with some help.

How Much Is Enough?

In the world of football-sized burritos and double-doubles and the new loaded breakfast sandwiches, you constantly need to ask yourself: Is that portion actually just for me? The key to watching your waistline here is to not stop at drive-thru eateries and convenience stores or eat processed boxed foods and anything oversized. You are guaranteed to consume excessive calories. Keeping a small bag of raw almonds in your car will cut your appetite and hold you over until you get home. Once you are in your kitchen you have more control over what you are making and eating, especially if you are set up. When making a simple meal, divide your plate into three sections. Make half of it veggies, one-quarter a whole-grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, and the other quarter a lean protein, such as organic chicken, wild fish or tofu.

Are you really hungry? You can also drink a glass of filtered water and see if you are. Wait at least 20 minutes, then decide whether you're actually hungry or just thirsty.

Use This, Not That

Reduce the fat in your traditional family favorites by substituting lower-fat items or using less sugar. For example, you can substitute fat-free milk, homemade butter milk, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, or light sour cream in many dishes without sacrificing flavor. You also can cut down on the sugar in some recipes and use agave syrup or coconut sugar instead. Any way to cut down on calories is a sure way to keep your belt from the next hole going in the wrong direction.

Stick To The Plan

Panic sets in when the zipper doesn't stay zipped and the button is inches away from the button hole when you put on your holiday outfit. The first words uttered under your breath is: "I am never eating again." That doesn't work. Missing a meal isn't wise and will backfire. Your blood glucose can be affected, and you will overeat later. Don't wait to eat what is going to be served at the party. Stick to your meal plan and schedule like an appointment in your calendar. That way, at the party you can be polite and have a taste of what is served and not overeat and go over the calorie budget. Establish a regular time for each meal and snack daily. Your body craves a schedule, and by fueling your body at regular times you will not feel hungry. Eating a small plate of balanced food every three hours keeps your hunger at bay. Choose wisely by always choosing a loaded carb, low fat protein and a good fat. My go-to plate is a boiled egg, slices of avocado with a piece of toast. Whole wheat, gluten-free, rice, spelt are all good choices when it comes to bread.

Write It Down

Once you set your daily goal, write down what you eat or drink. The number of calories in these foods and drinks is so eye-opening. Although the calorie count is important, however, what's even more shocking is that you realize how much you really are eating. Studies suggest people who keep food diaries tend to lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who don't. I found an amazing app that is so easy, and since we are so mobile, and quite honestly I can never find a pen or pencil that works, Loseit.com is awesome. You can set your desired weight goal and then each day you add what you eat and how you moved. Finding a method that works for you is key, and I beg everyone to not wait until the "for-sure fail" New Year's resolution.

Stay Dialed In

Some dietitians suggest if you really want to be a smaller version of what you are now, you need to set goals that are specific and realistic. And by realistic I don't mean 20 pounds by next week. Keep in mind that one pound is 3,500 calories. Simple math, calories in and calories out. To understand where you are, you must be ready to face the numbers. Weigh yourself, and don't cheat, and then calculate your body mass index (BMI), an estimate of percent body fat calculated from height and weight. A BMI of 25 or less is considered healthy, 25 to 29.9 is "overweight," and a BMI of 30 corresponds to an "obese" category. Click here for an easy calculation. The sooner you know where you are right now, the easier it is to get started and see where you can go.

Move It To Lose It

Exercise makes losing weight a whole lot easier, and people who move more are more likely to keep the pounds off. Aim to burn at least 1,000 calories or more every week. My personal goal is 400 calories a day through exercise. Think of your workouts as a way to compensate for all those extra calories that you have been consuming. Walking one mile will (give or take) burn 100 calories. Make a goal of walking one mile in 15 minutes will earn you that calorie burn. Don't fall into the holiday trap of "I can't exercise -- I'm too busy." Let's face it: We are all busy... throughout the whole year! The bottom line is, don't skip your workouts. If you have to do it early in the morning, do it! If you have do it at the end of the night, don't skip it, just do it! The key is to schedule it like an appointment. Get it in your calendar, just like your holiday parties. Exercise will help you manage hunger, burn calories, reduce stress, and control your blood sugars. You will have more energy, accomplish more, and definitely enjoy the holidays more, since you know you won't be gaining those extra dreaded holiday pounds.

When you decide that exercise and eating healthy is the way to go, a coach to help you along is the perfect solution. Join my club and let me be your healthy living coach. I'm ready for you. www.sundaysetup.com

For more by Kathy Kaehler, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.

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