How to Stay in Shape During the Holidays

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It’s that time of the year again when there are more parties, delicious food, and flowing alcoholic drinks. In other words, ’tis the season when we stuff ourselves silly, pack on the pounds, and suppress our guilt for overindulging, at least until after the holidays. Fret not–you can stay trim and healthy amidst all the temptation. Here are a few suggestions how.

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Eat healthy before a party

If you’re going to a holiday party, which will most likely serve rich and delectable food, consider having a healthy, low- calorie meal beforehand. No matter how motivated you think you are, you will end up eating that delicious food if you go to the party hungry. But if you’re already full heading into the party, then you won’t be able to eat even if you wanted to. Of course, for you to stay trim and healthy during the holidays, your pre-party meal should be healthy; otherwise, it would simply defeat the purpose.

Watch what you drink

Another obstacle to staying fit during the holidays is alcohol. Since there are more parties held during this time of the year, expect to encounter alcohol more often. If you succumb to the temptation and consume alcohol in large quantities, it will make you fat. Here’s why:

Aside from being high in calories, alcohol is the first fuel that your body burns, which means you won’t be burning fat. It actually causes your body to store fat. Alcohol also makes your body produce more cortisol–a hormone that increases blood sugar and helps in fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

To keep your alcohol consumption under control, swig at least one glass of water between alcoholic drinks to keep you hydrated and feeling full. If you’re drinking beer, go for the light variety, which have lower calories. Better yet, don’t avoid drinking alcohol altogether.

Take a three-to-one bite ratio

To limit the calories in your plate, get small portions of three dishes that you’re raring to taste, and then load the rest of your plate with healthy options like fruits (without syrup or cream) and green leafy vegetables. Avoid starchy (e.g. white rice, potatoes) and sugary foods (e.g. cake, milky desserts), and focus on filling your plate with fibre (e.g. beans, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts).

For every bite you take of the must-try dish, offset it with three bites of the healthy foods on your plate. This will help you get full quickly with healthy food and minimise your calories. It’s especially helpful if you weren’t able to take a healthy meal before the party (see tip #1 above).

Pay attention to what you eat

Take note of what you put on your plate and in your mouth when in a holiday party. It’s common for people to feel stuffed after a party, and yet not remember what they had on such events. This can be problematic if you’re trying to control what you eat during the holidays. By minding what you eat, you can at least try to keep the holiday weight off.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you should completely deprive yourself of your favourite foods. The trick is to manage your portions, which can only be done if you pay attention to what you eat. To help your resolve, limit what you get from the dessert table and force yourself to not return for seconds.

Reward yourself for staying the course

Want to stay motivated while everyone else binges during the holidays? Find ways to reward yourself for staying disciplined. Just remember that the rewards should not involve foods you love eating. It could be a generous contribution to your jewellery fund; a trip to the spa or massage therapist; a weekend getaway; or shopping for slim clothes.

Rewarding yourself will make your effort more worthwhile and help give you the mental fortitude to reach your goal. It also keeps you motivated, which is necessary to win over temptations and overcome frustrations.

Replace sugar with spice

Cutting down or altogether avoiding sugar is one of the biggest challenges of staying trim, especially when facing a seemingly unending string of holiday parties, gingerbread cookies, eggnog, and candy canes. One way to beat the sugar holiday blitz is replace it with spice when possible.

For instance, when making your morning coffee, you can substitute sugar with cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and nutmeg for a Starbucks-like flavour. This brew would also help lower LDL cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and minimise arthritic pain, among other health benefits.

It doesn’t end there: you can also use spices for your oatmeal, cereal, or even your dishes. Aside from the health benefits that some spices may provide, skipping the sugar would do wonders for your weight and teeth.

Intensify your workouts

Proper diet may have a larger impact on your body weight than exercise, but that doesn’t mean you should do without any physical activity. Aside from burning off calories during the activity itself, being physically active boosts your metabolic rate, which in turn would lead to your body consuming more oxygen and burning more calories, even when at rest afterwards.

What you need to do is perform an intense exercise that makes your heart rate go faster for longer stretches, and increase your number of workouts. Since you usually have more free time, the year-end holidays are the ideal occasion to do intense workouts more frequently.

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