Has anyone else noticed that the holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year? I’m not even talking about the Christmas stuff already on sale at Costco! Although Christmas and Thanksgiving are still firmly ensconced in December and November respectively, it seems there are plenty of reasons to gather with friends and family to eat and drink excessively as soon as fall arrives. Events such as attending a Husky or Seahawks game, watching sports at home or at someone else’s house, birthday parties and more are just some of the gatherings I’ve recently found myself at. And we’ve not even purchased our Halloween candy yet and the invites have yet to go out for the holiday parties!
I always tell clients that this is absolutely the wrong time of year to set big weight loss and/or fitness goals. It’s so easy to sabotage yourself, especially when the shorter, darker, colder days tend to awaken the desire to eat comfort food and kill the motivation to exercise. Maintenance is a reasonable goal. Not just maintaining your weight, but keeping your exercise program consistent. If you can avoid looking at yourself in the mirror on Jan. 1 and beating yourself up because your exercise program has lapsed and you’ve gained holiday weight, you will be way ahead of the game.
Recent studies have proven that the diet that works . . . is the diet you stay on for the long term! How very revolutionary, right? If you stay on it for the long term it really isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. If we could all strive for that, our lives would be simpler and healthier. When you make choices this holiday season, think of your overall lifestyle, and how you want to feel when January rolls around . . . so don’t go crazy when you party this holiday season. It’s just not worth it!
Here are some tips to survive this year’s holiday events:
DO Stick with your normal exercise program as much as possible
DO Eat a protein-rich snack shortly before the event
DO Drink 16 ounces of water on the way to the event (filling and hydrating)
DO Alternate one holiday drink with one glass of water (I try to bring my own sparkling water)
DO Eat first so you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach
DO Choose vegetables, lean protein, salad and fruit (if I’m asked to bring something I try to default to a vegetable tray)
DON’T Starve yourself the day of the event because you know you will eat more calories later (or you will definitely eat more calories later!)
DON’T Lose track of how much you drink (it’s too easy for a well-meaning person to top off your glass of wine)
DON’T Gravitate first to the rich and calorie-laden cheeses, desserts and breads/crackers. Instead, fill up on veggies and protein and then allow yourself small portions of treats
DON’T Make excuses! “This is a special occasion, I’m going for it” only works if it’s your one and only special event for the holidays
DON’T Forget about the consequences of overindulging, such as driving under the influence and/or feeling like crap the next day because you pummeled yourself with rich food and excess alcohol — especially if you have multiple events scheduled over a week or weekend
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, especially at this time of year. Have fun and enjoy this holiday season, but stay grounded and make sensible choices so you can start the new year feeling strong, healthy and optimistic!
Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, is a NSCA-certified trainer and strength coach with 12+ years of experience working with athletes and clients of all ages. Her specialty is in functional strength applications, developing core and overall strength and coordination specifically for the purpose of enhancing the body’s ability to function optimally and safely in athletic movement. You can contact her online at www.facebook.com/mrsathlete and www.twitter.com/mrsathlete.