By Shannon Dey, M.S. Health Education & CEO-Founder Bombshell Fitness
Happy Holidays! This joyful phrase conjures warm thoughts of family, friends, fun and good cheer. However, to those working so very hard to live a healthy, lean lifestyle, this phrase can also trigger thoughts of weight gain, lack of self-control and pure fear! The anxiety surrounding how to handle all of the food associated with the holiday season without finding yourself sporting the midsection of a snowman come January, can be downright terrifying! Office party cookie plates, family dinners laced with fat/carbs and sugar, food basket gifts, candy canes and leftovers seem to be at every turn. WHAT is a health and fitness conscious holiday reveler to do?
In order to cope with the stress of it all, most of us transform in to one of two unsavory characters when dealing with the season of food: The “Stuffed Santa” or the “Grumpy Grinch”.
The Stuffed Santa
This jolly character basically says “screw it” and completely derails their healthy nutrition train in the name of enjoying the holiday season. Stuffed Santa happily flits from table to table grazing all the way. Not only does the Stuffed Santa munch away on whatever they choose at holiday functions, but they also choose to abandon their other healthy habits. They cancel their trainer, stop going to the gym and abandon their healthy nutrition program, even during the weekdays. Covered up in coats and sweaters, Stuffed Santa simply refuses to look at the state of their body, sticking their head in the sand as the pounds pile on. Admittedly, Stuffed Santa does have an amazing six weeks of gluttony, HOWEVER when January 1st hits and they take a look in the mirror, they find themselves stuffed tighter than a 15-pound turkey shoved into an Easy Bake Oven. Think reversing the effects of feasting and gym abandonment is easy for Stuffed Santa when they take down the tree and decide to change their ways? Think again! Not only has the Stuffed Santa completely reversed the visual of any previous hard work on their physique, but they will have also successfully slowed down their metabolism, which will take WEEKS of hard work to re-kindle before even one measly pound of holiday fat is shed.
The Grumpy Grinch
This grumpy spoil sport spends HOURS pouring over “healthy” holiday recipes, searching for low fat ways to torture their family during holiday meals. When the Grumpy Grinch attends a holiday function that they did not prepare with “low fat favorites”, they announce to everyone within earshot “I am NOT eating that”. The Grumpy Grinch doesn’t only expect themselves to pass on ALL holiday goodies, but will cast a downward glance at all those who dare indulge in the holiday cookie plate and shake their head at those preparing traditional holiday meals not laced with low-fat replacements. If the Grumpy Grinch DOES in fact take a bite of a holiday treat, EVERYONE around them will know about it because they will with full grandeur proclaim, “I can’t believe I’m eating this!” Skip the gym? No way! The Grumpy Grinch will bolt away from a holiday gathering announcing to everyone that they “must get to the gym” before early closing holiday hours. Although the Grumpy Grinch may make it through the holidays without any weight gain, you can rest assured that rather than enjoy a meal or two with friends and family they are quite likely secretly indulging in those holiday treats behind closed doors only to find themselves racked with guilt and shame for their lack of self-control. The Grinch MAY even gain weight during the holidays because these secret indulgences after such deprivation can lead to sessions of all out binging.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! You do NOT have to transform a Stuffed Santa OR a Grinch this holiday season! You CAN enjoy the holidays AND come out the other side looking and feeling GREAT!! Here are some tips to SURVIVE the holidays, BOMBSHELL style!!
Getting all worked up in anticipation of how to handle the abundant goodies over the holidays won’t help you cope. It’s really NOT that deep. The more attention you give the matter, the more you are going to THINK about it and the more you are going to CRAVE the food. RELAX, you are not a victim to food. You have the power of free will, you will be FINE!
CREATE A GAME PLAN
Having a game plan mapped out in advance assures that you aren’t flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best. Before the holiday season comes in to full swing, decide WHICH events you will be indulging in moderation. LOVE your Grandmothers sweet potato pie? Then by all means make the meal at her house, the one you indulge (moderately) in. Don’t really dig Aunt Judy’s cooking? Then when you have dinner at her house, stick to a reasonable amount of turkey and salad, leave the rest behind.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Let’s face it, although there are some AMAZING goodies at holiday functions, much of it is lackluster at best. The grocery store bought cookies thrown on a table at the office party? The random strange items found in most food baskets? Not so great. Before picking up that cookie ask yourself, “Is it worth the calories”? If it TRULY is worth it, then go ahead. However, if it isn’t one of your favorite items, then eating it for the sake of eating it simply is not the best choice, and the calories are better served elsewhere. You will find that you will gladly give up these items when you realize that they simply aren’t worth the calories and in turn will feel empowered and in control over your choices. SAVE the calories for things that you truly enjoy, in settings that matter.
KEEP A LID ON IT
If you decide that certain items and meals aren’t worth the calories, keep a lid on it! Don’t announce to everyone that you are choosing not to eat something. In turn, when you do eat a treat, don’t draw attention to yourself and turn it in to an event that everyone else is forced to participate in. Newsflash: NO ONE CARES what you eat or don’t eat!! Quite honestly, making a big deal about your food choices to those around you is simply annoying. Keep your choices to yourself and do not judge the choices of others. Inspire those around you to make their OWN healthy choices by your ACTIONS, they speak MUCH louder than words!
DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL
A trait witnessed over and over throughout the years is that of “All or Nothing” when it comes to living the healthy lifestyle. Many individuals throw in the towel on ALL aspects of their health and fitness program if they cannot complete one portion. For instance, if the gym is closed, they will eat completely off plan because they can’t work out. Or, if they eat off plan, they skip their cardio and training because they didn’t follow their nutrition. Sound crazy? It IS, but it happens ALL the time!! Get in what you can EACH day! If the gym is closed, still eat on plan and take a walk outside. If you can’t get in your regular meals due to a big holiday shopping trip, still do your cardio. Just because you can’t follow ONE portion of your plan doesn’t mean you throw in the towel on the rest! This will help keep you on track throughout the busy times.
Many in anticipation of a big holiday dinner will cut their calories all day leading UP to the meal. BIG MISTAKE! You can’t starve yourself all day and then think you are simply “replacing” those skipped calories . It doesn’t work that way! Not only does skipping meals mess with your insulin levels and slow your metabolism, it also leaves you RAVISHED when you hit the dinner table and as a reaction to this hunger you WILL overindulge! Instead, follow your NORMAL healthy meal plan throughout the day and then simply REPLACE one of your meals with the holiday dinner. From there, get RIGHT BACK ON TRACK with your next meal.
LOW FAT WHAATT??
This one will draw criticism from many of my counterparts in the fitness biz but, DROP the low fat holiday dinner cr*p!! It is not ONE holiday meal that will make you gain weight, it is the accumulation of indulgences over the holiday season! Rather than torture your family and loved ones with a holiday meal that simply does NOT taste the same as the “good stuff” (sorry fitness folks, you and I BOTH know it doesn’t!), follow your healthy nutrition plan the REST of the time and then ENJOY the tradition of an honest to goodness holiday meal with those you love. As long as you eat clean on a regular basis, one meal will not make or break you.
With proper planning and smart choices you CAN enjoy the traditions, company and FOOD of the holiday season WITHOUT transforming in to a Stuffed Santa or a Grouchy Grinch! Simply relax, create a game plan and indulge in moderation only when it is truly an enjoyable experience. Do THIS and you will have a WONDERFUL Holiday AND start the New Year AHEAD of the game!