The snow begins to fall, Christmas carols swoon on the radio, and a new sense of excitement fills the air for most people when December 1st hits. Sometimes I find myself getting so caught up in the magic of the season that before I know it, this little feeling of uneasiness starts to swell in my stomach.
My to-do list starts getting longer. I have gifts to buy and parties to attend. School plays, Santa Parades, and that one friend who always has to get married around Christmas wants that RSVP.
Before we know it the stress starts to creep in, our workout times begin to get shorter or not happen at all, the take out containers start to pile up, and we run ourselves ragged. We start to cut corners in our day-to-day life with the best intentions, but ultimately, we end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, run-down, and like our pants are fitting just a little bit tighter.
Here are some common mistakes we make around the holiday season followed by how to make it right.
1) "Lighter drinks make it OK to indulge just a little bit, right?"
For many people a celebratory drink or two at each gathering is in order. Most people think by staying away from beer and wine and having tonic water or diet soda in a drink, it makes it healthier. When comparing calories, the average drink is about 150-250 empty calories; however, when comparing the content in diet soda or tonic water to wine and beer, these alternatives are way worse!
A 4 oz drink with tonic water or soda has 9-11 grams of sugar where as a 4oz glass of wine has on average 1-2 grams of sugar. Excess sugar feeds cancer cells, causes excess weight gain, and speeds up the aging process in our body. No thanks!
A 4 oz drink with tonic water or soda has 9-11 grams of sugar where as a 4oz glass of wine has on average 1-2 grams of sugar.
2) "I've been so busy all day I haven't eaten anything since the breakfast sandwich I grabbed on the go this morning. It's OK, there will be tons of food at the potluck later!"
A wise physician that I was working with many years ago once said to me, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." That phrase is the culmination of how I feel about potlucks and all-you-can-eat buffets. A scoop of this, a scoop of that; that voice in my head says, "Well I can't be rude and I have to try everyone's dish."
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
My brain is telling me that I'm full, but then I look over at Sally's plate and she found the chocolate covered strawberries and homemade Mac 'N' Cheese. That seems like a logical food to pair together! Bad, worse, and I should just run on the treadmill all night instead of sleeping to make this right.
The problem with potlucks are that most are filled with foods that are high in fat as well foods filled with cheeses, gravies, and sauces. Let's face it, no one wants to be the person who brings the vegetable tray, but instead the person who's Swedish meatballs and cheesy poppers are the hit.
The problem with indulging in these varieties of foods is that we confuse our taste buds and our brain. When we indulge in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, our taste buds keep changing; therefore, it takes the hormones in our brain more time to trigger that we are full. The fat and the sugar in sauces trigger our brain to keep eating, and our ability to ward off cravings and use moderation is pretty much null and void. This is especially true if we've not eaten for several hours. It's an all around recipe for disaster.
When we indulge in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, our taste buds keep changing; therefore, it takes the hormones in our brain more time to trigger that we are full.
Whenever I am about to head to a potluck or buffet dinner, I make sure I eat a balanced meal a few hours earlier and a healthy snack about one hour beforehand. Some options for snacks are a handful of almonds, Greek yogurt and berries, or a1/2 of an avocado drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A Shakeology shake is also another quick, convenient, nutrient dense meal or snack on the go.
If I have to eat at the buffet, I ensure I choose three items maximum and put together the most balanced meal I can find. I look for a meal I'd make at home with a protein, healthy carbohydrate, and tons of vegetables. Oftentimes I will just choose one main if I can find a stir fry. I definitely do not "eat my money's worth" but my waistline makes up for what my wallet cannot.
3) "I get up for work at 6am. I work 8am-4pm. I'm volunteering at my kids Christmas bazaar from 5-7pm, then I have a dinner to attend at 7pm. I absolutely do not have time to workout, but I will be doing lots of walking and standing on my feet, so I'm good."
OK. I feel you. That's a crazy tight schedule and I'm not going to tell you to get up at 5am and make your super long day even longer. I will be blunt and tell you that walking and standing will not help you lose weight. Walking and standing will not increase your bone density. Walking and standing will not increase endorphins or raise your heart rate.
Most people forget the whole idea of working out on these days because they cannot devote at least 30 minutes to a solid workout. The good news is, as with many things in life, we do not have to take an all or nothing approach to be successful. Research shows that three ten-minute workouts, if done properly with an increase in our heart rate, are just as effective as one thirty minute workout.
Start your day by going up and down your stairs 20 times. On your lunch break alternate 1 minute of fast feet to 1 minute of pushups to 1 minute of squats and hold a 1 minute plank. Before bed at night hold 2 minutes of a warrior one pose on each side, followed by 1 minute of alternating lunges, followed by 100 sit ups. Anything is do-able, you just have to decide to do it!
Research shows that three ten-minute workouts, if done properly with an increase in our heart rate, are just as effective as one thirty minute workout.
This holiday season be merry, be well, be mindful, and if you catch yourself saying one of these phrases, remember to follow it with the tip below. I want you to make this your best holiday season yet!