Even if you love the holidays, you can get stressed thinking about how to avoid gaining weight when you are faced with one food temptation after another. Holiday time is usually a busier time too, and that can make it tough to stick to your exercise regimen. If you want to sparkle with joy this holiday season instead of stressing out about holiday weight gain, here are 11 things you can do.
1. Think 80/20. This simple little rule can change the way you live forever (not just the holidays). Eat healthy and exercise most of the time. Give yourself a 20 percent wiggle room. For example, stay the course all week with clean eating and workouts and lighten up on your rules on the weekend. Enjoy an office holiday party but then get right back to healthier eating the next day. The 80/20 rule is a realistic way to manage what you eat and how often you exercise. It works during the holidays and year-round.
2. Give yourself a holiday treat once in a while. I know the pretty red and white specialty drinks at Starbucks are calling your name. You are dying for an (tis the season) Eggnog or Peppermint Mocha Latte. Go ahead and treat yourself so you don't feel deprived. Just make it a Tall instead of a Grande. Small changes matter. A planned indulgence is better than throwing your hands in the air and indulging left and right because you are tired of feeling deprived.
3. Practice portion control. You don't have to try everything. Just because grandma made it, doesn't mean you have to eat it. Take your favorites. If you can, try to make sure more than half of your plate has some veggies on it. It's okay to say, "No, thank you, maybe later."
4. Empower yourself with standing apart from the pack. Think about this for a second: How empowered will you feel if you stick to a committed workout routine from now until the end of this year? Let others pick it back up in January, but not you. You can keep it going and end the year strong. Set yourself apart by doing what others won't do. You will feel like a champion. (Bonus: Exercise means increased energy for the chaotic holiday season!)
5. Never go to a party hungry. Don't save up your calories for a party. Yes, weight gain is fundamentally based on calories in and out, but if you go to party hungry, I guarantee your judgment will be off and you will eat more food than if you ate a handful of nuts before you left for the party. Be the person who shows up with a healthy dish to share. Homemade hummus and veggies? Red pepper nachos? Healthier "Yes You Can" cupcakes anyone?
6. Edit your day. Deprivation can fuel desire. So instead of dwelling on all the holiday treats you shouldn't have, edit your choices. (Drop the word diet and rearrange those letters to spell edit.) Editing what you want means making small changes to your choices. Eat one cookie instead of three. Plan a healthy fulfilling lunch so you aren't tempted by break room treats in your office. Decide what to eat less of, more of or what to cut, but take it day by day so controlling what you eat is more manageable.
7. Follow my two-day rule. Another easy breezy rule here: You can miss two days in a row of working out, but never miss more than two in a row. Stick to this rule and see how it works for your waistline.
8. Exercise and move more. Just do something -- even if it's just for 10 minutes. It's all about doing something. Don't underestimate the power of movement. Walk more. Spend less time on the couch. Shop 'til you drop. Stand up. Do some bodyweight exercises during commercials. Make it a game you play and see how much you can move your body in a day -- apart from scheduled exercise.
9. Drink water. All. Day. Long. You are probably eating more foods with salt and consuming more alcohol around the holidays, so it's even more important to keep your body hydrated. Start your day with some lemon water and keep sipping water throughout your day.
10. Ask for a fitness-related gift for the holidays. Why not ask for a gift this holiday season that can support your health and fitness? There are so many cool fitness gifts available. And where the mind goes, the body follows.
11. Rock the black dress. Wherever you are on your fitness journey, love and appreciate your body for all that it can do. No body shaming allowed. Enjoy the holidays for what they are -- a time to celebrate the people in your life and all of life's blessings -- and that includes YOU. Go rock that dress, girlfriend.
You don't have to feel like an outsider this holiday season. Join the party and live full out. Just make sure you devote more time to your health than you do to your indulgences and then you can start your New Year without any guilt for how you ended this year. Isn't that the best gift you could give to yourself this holiday season?