The holidays are here and so is the stress of making it through the holidays without gaining weight. This time a year can be stressful to many people in multiple ways and the stress alone can cause you to gain 10 to 15 pounds over the next six weeks. Managing stress during the holidays can be difficult and unless we take time for ourselves, slow down and make healthy food choices. When we are stressed and over-tired it is much easier to turn to sugar and carbohydrates to boost our energy and mood. Once the cycle of using sugar and carbs is established we start to crave these very types of foods and the cycle of gaining weight begins. We are bombarded with food at the stores, on the TV, magazines and with our own holiday traditions making it all most impossible to stay committed to our diets. After a weekend of shopping during the day, catching a bite out at our favorite place to eat we notice that on Monday morning the scale reflects what we ate over the weekend. Lets do the math; we have 6 weeks of living the holiday lifestyle and we gain two pounds a week that equals 12 pounds. Now the average Thanksgiving dinner is 4,500 calories, this year throw in the eight days of Hanukkah for those who celebrate and it can easily be a 3 to 5 pound weight gain. Wait a minute because we have not even calculated in parties, Christmas and New Years. You can see why more people go on a crash diet for their New Years Resolution and why it is the favorite time of year for weight loss centers, diet book sales and gyms.
My plan is to set some healthy boundaries before the holidays to help you manage your stress during the 6 weeks of Holiday Madness. Here is a list of 10 tips to make your life simpler, happier and your waist smaller.
1. As crazy as this sound keep a regular sleep schedule and try to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night. It is okay to leave parties early if your perfect excuse is ” I have to be up in 6 hours”.
2. Shop from your favorite stores on-line and have your gifts wrapped and shipped to your friends and family. Your time, gas for your car and eating out will cover the wrapping and many on-line stores offer free shipping.
3. Take veggie snacks, protein shakes and water with you if you are going to be out all day. You are less likely to make high carb food choices if you are not starving or dehydrated.
4. Eat a salad with protein before you head out to a party or dinner to take the edge off your appetite. Food does not have the same effect on our feel good part of the brain if you are not hungry.
5. Keep your exercise routine in place as much as possible so you keep your fat burning machine going and the thought of staying healthy on your mind.
6. Buy your holiday outfits early and hang them up where you can see them everyday. Trying to buy the perfect outfit at the last-minute can be impossible and seeing it everyday makes it more likely that you will keep your weight down.
7. Find a skinny cocktail for holidays and stick to it. Keep your cocktails to one drink so that your blood sugar remains stable. Studies show that when people drink they eat more and blood sugars are higher which leads to weight gain.
8. Keep your cravings under control by taking your daily vitamins and make sure that you are getting your Omega’s. When your body feels deficient in a vitamin, mineral or amino acid cravings start to emerge and the cravings will be stronger than normal. Because they are of biological origin it is highly likely that you will give in with a wrong food choice if you are not in tune with your body.
9. Maintain healthy relationships and focus on reducing or resolving any conflicts prior to the holidays. If a relationship or friendship is unhealthy for you and causing you stress then let it go and move on rather than go through the holidays with someone you do not want in your life. I know this sounds harsh but it also is empowering to start the New Year without emotional baggage.
10. Be silly, laugh, dance, surround your self with positive people, have fun any way and any where you can. When we are happy it makes dealing with the moments of stress much easier on our bodies and we have less desire to give into cravings and overeat.
Thank you for reading my blog and may you find peace and happiness during the holidays.