It doesn’t take any talent to gain weight (or spend money), especially at this time of year. Let’s be honest. It’s post-Thanksgiving and I got on the scale after 5 days of family, fun and food and WOOPS… a few extra pounds in no time! A little too much noshing on a little too much extra, and not enough exercise (because of all the company and cooking), and here I am, sporting a little extra baggage.
Well, it at least affords me the perfect opportunity to discuss a few thoughtful reminders I’m planning to put in place between now and the next set of holidays. After all, December is a festive month, filled with opportunities to nibble, nosh, drink and party, and I want to partake… and will with a little mindful planning. Care to join me? Read below and see what makes sense for you.
Strategies for not bulking up like Santa by Christmas.
- OK, might as well start with one that you might hate: get on the scale tomorrow morning. Know how much you weigh and decide, ahead of time, if you are at your holiday “limit” or not. Will you allow yourself 3 extra pounds, 2, 5? What will it take to lose the pounds you put on, or, how much exercise must you proactively do in order to burn all the extra calories you’ll take in with alcohol, food or desserts? (January is “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” diet month!) Weigh yourself every 4-5 days to monitor your trajectory. Pay attention!
- Know your schedule and work environment and plan your day, and week, with regard to food. Now more than ever is a good time to reduce or eliminate bread/sandwiches, toast, and pasta. Not forever, just with special attention for the next month IF you are going to holiday parties, lunches, or imbibing in office goodies. (Bread and pasta are calorically dense and are good choices to reduce significantly during December.)
- If you work in a social environment with others, it’s likely there’ll be plenty of food gifting going on. Remember mindful eating? It disappears sometimes when we need it most… and it’s really worth practicing again. Before you grab for the cookie, cake or candy, remember – IT TAKES NOTHING TO GAIN WEIGHT!
- Every cookie is at least an extra 120 calories (approximately) so my recommendation is: if you’re going to eat it, LOVE IT or LEAVE IT! Try taking a breath before you bring it to your mouth, ask yourself “do I love this enough to eat it?” If the answer is yes, enjoy it. BE THERE FOR IT BY EATING IT SLOWLY AND CHEWING AND TASTING IT!
- Bring simple provisions to work so you don’t eat all the junk at your office! This might include: a yogurt, a small amount (an ounce or 2) of unsalted non-oiled nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, shelled pumpkin seeds, 1 or 2 fresh pieces of fruit, healthy crackers and a small piece of cheese, small container of homemade soup, a salad, hard-boiled egg, carrot and celery sticks, a handful of pretzels – try multi-grain! (These are such better choices than bagels, cookies, cakes, candy, donuts, rolls and butter, etc.)
- If you don’t do this already, try bringing your lunch from home three or four days a week. On those days, if at all possible, take a walk for 25 minutes outside even if it’s in a large parking lot (the sunlight will also do you loads of good throughout the winter months),or at least around your building or up and down your stairwells. (Invite a colleague to join you.) Then, having your lunch at your desk isn’t an egregious offense (since you’ve already moved your body and consciously pre-packed your lunch – being mindful of quality and quantity of foods.)
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry at the end of the day, especially if your commute is more than 30 minutes from home. (This applies year round!) Eat a small satiating snack before you leave (like a banana and almonds), or bring it to have ready for you in the car, or on the train. Otherwise, this can set up a recipe for disaster once you arrive home starving, and start to grab bread or chips as you’re making dinner. Obviously this leads to overeating, and often times, filling up on the junk rather than the food!
- This one also applies year round: Consider making one “mileage” food on the weekend. This is something that takes a little longer and is prepared in large enough quantity, or doubled in quantity, so you could freeze half and use it during the busy work week. Once you get into a rhythm of this, you’ll have several homemade choices to pull out of the freezer for a good weeknight dinner.
- Exercise. Move your body – WALK at home, to do local errands if possible, in your office building, alone and with a friend, park further away in the parking lot, get to the gym, whatever it takes… The fading light makes it harder, but it’s ever more important to keep movement in your life. Dance in your kitchen or living room!
- Get enough sleep. This one is scientifically proven. Our ability to digest carbohydrates is regulated with sufficient sleep. We crave sugar (simple carbohydrates) when we’re underslept.
Have a great month. I’m going to remember these myself! If you’ve got any other strategies, please send them in, so we all can benefit.
Until next time,
Keep me posted.
Photo credit: zsoolt, used with permission under Creative Commons license.