If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this picture of a recent lunch that I prepared. It’s pretty simple… A tunafish sandwich made with organic mayonnaise and a little pepper. I served it on reasonably-sized wholegrain bread with sliced organic tomato and avocado. I mention organic and whole grain because I do my best to stick to the tenants of clean eating.
A lot of people who’ve put themselves on strict diets at this time of year are often surprised at the use of mayonnaise or even bread for this lunch. But the fact is, you can take off excess weight while enjoying delicious foods in reasonable portions. Too often, those of us with diet mentalities are nibbling on rice cakes and baby carrots (neither of which is probably in their most natural states, freshness- or additive-wise) and complaining that we’re miserable while doing so.
But guess what? The less miserable we are when eating healthy and getting rid of excess weight, the more likely we are to stick to the plan and not only take the excess weight off, but keep it off. That’s the key, right? We’ve all started diets at this time of year. We’ve all even lost weight at this time of year. But at a certain point we have to ask ourselves, why has this become an annual occurrence?
Why not make this the last time you begin a weight loss plan and, instead, think of it as clean, healthy eating (AKA a food plan you’re never going to have to go off of). And you don’t have to want to go off of it when you allow yourself the simple pleasures of tasty, wholesome, nutritious food. Add exercise, sleeping well and enough water to the mix and you can even enjoy the occasional food-related treats (even the richer ones, just the way “people who don’t have to diet” do).
Balance. Moderation. Satisfaction. Sounds so crazy, it just might work.
Question of the (seasonal) day… Does he (meaning Santa) really know when we’ve been eating?
Whether he does or doesn’t, nothing fills us with holiday dread the way an announcement that ‘There are only a certain number of shopping days until Christmas’ does. Yet, while most folks worry about finding enough time to make their list and check it twice, those of us with a dieter’s mentality fear that the visions of sugarplumbs might lead to the kind of overindulgence that could result in our waistlines (as opposed to the Grinch’s heart) ‘growing three sizes that day.’
But fear not, Little Elves! The holidays do not have to be a recipe for disaster when it comes to staying healthy, keeping fit and looking divine all the way through new year’s eve and beyond. In fact, if you follow these simple tips (which I’ve been asked to share again) as a general rule throughout the next several weeks, you’ll be giving yourself a gift that keeps on giving.
Curb hunger before you dash out the door
Whether attending a holiday party, a special dinner or even a cookie exchange, have a snack before you go. I’m not saying not to eat at the event. But I am saying to arrive without feeling starved so that you’re not tempted to make like a Thanksgiving Turkey and stuff yourself. Healthy pre-event snacks can include 1/4 of a cup of raw cashews or almonds, a piece of fruit or even a few slices of lowfat cheese. Munch on those just before an event and you’ll arrive with socializing on your mind instead of filling up on the wrong foods.
Indulge like a supermodel would
Successfully navigating holiday eating doesn’t mean giving into avoidance or denying yourself your true desires. It means indulging in a healthy and sane fashion. Want it? Taste it. Enjoy it. But stop there. You don’t have to have more than one cookie, more than a few chips or more than one helping of each dish during dinner. Pretend you’re being followed by TMZ cameras (and why shouldn’t you be?) and that you’re showing the world that you can eat anything (in proper portions) and look and feel fabulous at the same time. And by not denying yourself, you’ll be less tempted to cheat when you get home from an event or outing.
Eat, drink and be wary
Don’t forget that those holiday cocktails can be loaded with more calories than the snackaroos. A good general rule for women is to limit themselves to one alcohol drink a day. Men can usually go for two drinks, depending on their individual weight. But drink sensibly — not just because you don’t want to be the one at the party wearing the lampshade, but because you don’t want to be the one in January wearing a moo-moo. (For a holiday cocktail calorie count, click here.)
Home, sweets, home
If you’re someone who’s more tempted to overindulge at home, when in private, then don’t feel like you have to do any holiday baking. Instead, stop by your local store (preferably one like Whole Foods, which is known for using healthier and more natural ingredients) and pick up any baked goods you want to give as a gift. And do so when on the way to an event. This way you not only don’t have to have the baked goods in your home tempting you, but you don’t have to deal with seeing your cabinets stocked with the tempting ingredients (bag o’ chocolate chips be gone!).
Make time to exercise
There are no excuses when it comes to moving your body. It must be done — even if you are running all over town like a renegade reindeer. The trick is to actually do the running – or walking at the very least. If you’re spending an afternoon at the mall, make a few more rounds than you have to, take stairs instead of escalators and park far away (which you’ll probably have to do anyway) in order to enjoy the lengthy walk to and from the mall entrance. And when you can, get your butt to the gym. Or, if you’re truly pressed for time, around the block. Even when incorporating the tips above, you’re likely to still be consuming more calories than you normally would over the next several weeks. So walk like you mean it (suck in that tummy and pump those arms). For 9 ways to exercise at the mall, click here.
Become a track star
By track, I mean tracking! In other words, make sure you keep a food diary during the holidays. Write down everything you consume — even the handful of raw cashews recommended above. Studies show that dieters who keep a food diary are not only more aware of what they’re eating, they’re also more likely to take off and keep off the excess pounds. So when in doubt, write it out. For a handy food diary you can print out and use anytime, click here.
Last but not least, enjoy yourself
While the season at hand obviously introduces some added stress into all of our lives, that doesn’t mean we should make like Ebenezer Scrooge. So take a (mental) load off and be gentle with yourself. We’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to critiquing ourselves. The fact is, even for all the great reasons we have for losing weight, we are good enough and hot enough right in this very moment (you’re being followed by TMZ cameras after all, remember?). So add a little of your own joy to the world — and to yourself – while living through and hopefully enjoying the season at hand.
Photo Source: Pinterest
(Or your scale does at least!)
Yes… The holiday season often means more social obligations, more eating occasions and longer to-do lists. But that doesn’t have to mean we stop moving – even if we can’t always make it to the gym for our usual workout.
Here are a few ways to incorporate movement and exercise into your holiday routines. Feel free to invite friends and family to participate. Remember: The more you move, the more calories you burn. And at this time of year, that’s usually a good thing!
Seasonal Tips for Staying Fit:
No time for your daily 30-minute power walk? Break it up! Take a 10-minute walk after breakfast, another after lunch and then one after dinner. 10 x 3 = 30 minutes!
Stuck at the mall? Park your car in the farthest spot from the entrance so walking becomes part of your shopping trip. Also feel free to walk around the mall a couple times to add even more movement to your day. And whenever possible, take the stairs – even if you’re going up to the third or fourth level of a mall (or parking garage).
What are ways that you keep moving when you can’t make it to the gym during this busy season? Share your tips with the rest of us below, in the comments section.
Photo Source: Bariatric Cookery
Admit it… As the Christmas holiday approaches, are you more “Oh, no!” than “Ho! Ho! Ho!?”
Even if you don’t have your car radio tuned into one of those Lite FM stations that play nothing but Christmas music during this time of year, you’re still likely to hear the carol “Joy to the World” at least a few times during the holiday season. It’s definitely a festive song with a happy message. But next time you hear it, I suggest changing the lyrics a little in your head. Instead of “Joy to the world,” think “Joy to yourself.”
Now, I realize this might seem like a selfish take on things. But when you find (and declare) joy within yourself, you’ll then actually be bringing joy to the world.
I don’t have to remind you that there seem to be so many challenges going on right now. Whether getting your news from the internet, from television or from a newspaper (whatever that is), we are all bombarded with reasons to not find any joy in the world — much less within ourselves. We then often use these happenings as reasons to live life without any joy. This kind of attitude can adversely affect our lives in so many ways — whether by having a shorter fuse with people we care about, cheating on our diets, slacking off when it comes to our to-do list or simply keeping the faith that life is innately good and there are real miracles happening around us (even despite some of the recent disturbing — and tragic — headlines). These are all reasons why now (today — this very moment) is an important time to declare ourselves vehicles of joy and then use that joy to help light up everyone else’s lives.
Finding joy within ourselves (and being determined to do so no matter what the scale says we weigh, how our jeans fit, what’s going on around us or what’s happening in the world) really can help to make the world a better place. We can’t necessarily change other people around us or other people we read about. But we can lead by example.
One of my favorite motivational speakers, Byron Katie, often writes and speaks about “Saving yourself first.” In other words, if you’re not okay, how can anyone you care about be made okay by you? She likens this to being on an airplane, when the flight attendants are giving their safety speech. They remind us that should the oxygen masks drop down from above, we should put one on ourselves before helping a child or someone else in need put on theirs. In other words, if we don’t get the oxygen into our system, how can we help anyone else if we pass out due to lack of oxygen? Make sense? We really do have to save ourselves (and ensure our own lives are joyful) before we can effect change in anyone else — much less the world around us.
Declaring joy within ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean walking around wearing rose-colored glasses, oblivious to what’s going on around us or in the world. But it can mean looking for the good in every situation, counting our blessings and embracing an attitude of gratitude. Only then can we approach life (and any of its challenges) with an open heart. By strengthening our “joy muscle,” we can be better in any situation we’re facing. Whether one involving a high stakes challenge or even when seeing the scale go up a couple pounds (which, for many of us, is a high stakes challenge in itself).
So next time you hear the lyrics to “Joy to the world,” please remember that you are the world. You reflect the world. You create your world. And, most importantly, you affect your world.
By finding as much good (and joy) as we can in the everyday, our attitudes will start to shift, our goals will start to fall into place (not to mention be met) and we will finally begin to be the change in the world that we all want to see.
This holiday season, I wish you days, weeks, months and years that are all full of joy. The very joy that you deserve.
Photo Source: Eat Live Glow