Let’s face it, staying active and eating right during the holidays is no easy task. You are on a roll, have established a habit and then that holiday party pops up, all the decadent treats come out, celebrations are abundant, well, you get the picture. When it’s cold outside and the days are shorter, I will look for any excuse to stay inside curled up with a good book and a fire waiting for the new year to start as that’s when I’ll make those tried and true resolutions…. NOT!
I don’t know about you, but I hate depriving myself of eating foods I love. However, I know that over indulging comes with a price and given the drastic changes in my metabolism at 52, I cannot afford to fall too far off the wagon. While I don't like to feel guilty and spend time beating myself up I must realize that when I give into that craving or choose crackers, bread and baked goods over healthier choices it will take me longer to undo the damage. It takes a change in mind set and while I'm not a freak about it, I am aware that if I walk 3 miles at a moderate pace within 40 minutes I've only burned 145 calories (of course depending on weight). Did you know that there are 710 calories in a slice of the regular cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory?? Yikes, can that be right? I looked up their nutrition chart and that is actually on the low end. If you get into the fancy cheesecake options they can be over 1,000 calories!!! As much as I love a decadent cheesecake it isn't worth it... just walk away! While I love creating in the kitchen baking has never been my thing but being able to indulge in homemade goodies where I can control the content is enough to take on the baking challenge. One of my favorite sites to keep me on track - www.myfitnesspal.com. There are countless others however so go explore.
Here are a few ways to combat the holiday road blocks.
Entertaining - If you are doing the hosting, find options for appetizers and spins on classics that are healthier. For instance, instead of lots of cheese and sauces, bacon wrapped anything (ok, we may need to keep that), puffed pastry and other doughy delights, look for elegant appetizers that taste great but incorporate more veggies. I have friends with dietary restrictions, i.e., dairy free, gluten, etc. so it gives me a great excuse to find new recipes. You can wow your guests with minimal effort. I love the shrimp on cucumber as shown on Pinterest among other great ideas you can find here: https://www.pinterest.com/jeanetteschaub/appetizers
Going to a party or out to dinner? I’m not going to lie, this is my biggest challenge. I cannot control what will be available to me so the first thing I do is make sure I’m NOT STARVING before I leave the house as that will lead to nothing good – too many cocktails on an empty stomach, over indulging on appetizers, and ordering a meal that I know I’ll never finish. While we are on the topic, what is it about always having room for dessert regardless of how full we are? When it comes to dining out, I make it my own secret challenge and will often look up the menu before we go so I can have my top 3 healthy options picked out in advance. Remember, you can also request sauce on the side, veggies instead of something butter laden, something grilled instead of fried, etc. Pass on the bread, it’s just there to taunt you! http://www.wikihow.com/Stick-to-Your-Diet-During-the-Holidays.
I love a great cocktail! Depending on what your drink of choice (mine is Champagne), it can lead to empty calories and more sugar than you know (also mentioned in article above). Do a little research in advance and change up your cocktail. Shape magazine just listed 11 diet friendly cocktails you can check out here: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/11-new-healthy-cocktail-recipes. There are only a few on this list that peaked my interest, but the point is the options are endless so get creative and change it up.
To me the most important thing is to keep active! It is so convenient these days to shop on line, but if you can get out to shop you are also getting your walking in. That being said, I’ll be clear – I hate crowds and shopping malls during the holidays. But if I have some holiday errands I also have some outdoor mall options and shopping choices that provide a less stressful experience. I get out early, treat myself to a fancy coffee and get my retail therapy in. I will park at the farthest point so it gives me the greatest distance to walk. It can be therapeutic if you have the right mind set before you set out to conquer.
Know your triggers. If you eat when you are stressed and the holidays are particularly stressful for you then incorporate some type of yoga or meditation into your daily routine. Make time for yourself! Here are some other ideas:
* Plan lunch dates or shopping with your girlfriends
* Take the train into SF to shop (or whatever city you live close to) eat, walk & shop!
* Take a class such as Paint Nite - www.paintnite.com (or go to Groupon)
* Check out local events - holiday parades, streets known for their light displays - instead of driving through, park and walk
* Treat yourself to a night out - attend a play or musical - have you ever been to the Nutcracker?
* Get up early and read or indulge in another hobby
* Be okay being alone - enjoy those quiet moments of solitude! Treat yourself to lunch or a movie.
* Have movie night at home
Check our our local calendar of events for ideas.
Take walks!! Whenever possible walk to your destinations, notice and enjoy your surroundings. Don't forget to breath :o)
Overall, it will take a little mind over matter (okay maybe a lot), but remember to savor the moments with your family and friends and don’t beat yourself up over a few sugar cookies. Instead say “bring it on” and challenge yourself to stay the course. Don’t forget to share how you navigated this time of year as we love new tips and tricks!