The next few weeks are filled with celebration: family, turkey dinners, leftover lunches, and plenty of pie. The holiday season is the reason why January is so busy for healthcare offices and fitness centers. Many people leave December with what college students call the “Freshmen 15.” It is the extra weight that happens to be gained because of all the holiday parties, office gatherings, and family events that feature all those delicious comfort foods.
Before you even think of trying to diet, here are some strategies to beat the holiday bulge and start off your New Year with a heck of a lot more resolve.
We recommend movement as much as possible, not only to help burn calories, but also, improve your mood, get your blood flowing and stabilize your blood sugar. Sitting still for long periods of time is unhealthy because your body is pretty much stiff. Movement helps with blood flow, which delivers much needed nutrients to the body. It increases oxygen and invigorates you. It helps with loosening up those stiff joints, too.
- Take the stairs, you’ll burn more calories than if you were to take the elevator, and you’ll tone those leg muscles.
- Dance to your favorite music, who cares if anyone is watching, that carefree attitude will help with your confidence, too!
- Stand, instead of sitting. Your body burns more calories just by standing, check out the difference at this calorie calculator at:
Cook at home, all that physical activity that comes with prepping food and standing helps to burn calories. Plus, you will save money and learn more about making a great meal!
- Your holiday bulge will depend on the kinds of foods that you are eating. Eating stuffing will have a different impact on your body compared to eating turkey. Here are some tips to eating your way to a healthier holiday.
- Focus on proteins and fats, instead of carbs, you will feel satiated and less likely to keep snacking. Protein and fat take longer to digest.
- Eat good fats: omega-3, saturated fat from coconut oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and Grass Fed meats. Keep it unprocessed and chemical free.
- Don’t skip meals in anticipation for a big holiday feast. This will only get you into trouble. Eat throughout the day as you normally would so you won’t be tempted to completely overeat when you finally sit down for that turkey dinner and all the fixings. Try eating protein and fats first. This helps keep you satiated and steer you away from all the refined sugar, pies and cakes that may be waiting for you at the dessert table.
While moving and eating are important, we cannot stress enough the importance of a good night’s sleep. In addition, avoiding stress can be one of the most effective ways to keep the holiday bulge from creeping up. Lack of rest can lead to higher stress, and being in a stressful environment can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is beneficial in short term environments, but in long term stress, it actually contributes to inflammation and a dysfunctional metabolism. Here are some examples of ways to put the body into a state of rest:
- Take power naps: If you have fifteen minutes to spare, try to take some time to close your eyes and not think about anything. You might not actually fall asleep, but your body will thank you for the time off.
- Limit interactions with toxic people: Like toxins in your body, toxic people put stress on the body, try to create a healthy distance from people so your body is in a state of rest. It might not always be possible, so we will move on to our next suggestion, which is to…
- Practice patience! In our fast paced society, there is a lack of time to rest. The phrase, “hurry up and wait” is often heard. When you feel yourself getting impatient, try to focus on your breathing, and understand why something might be taking too much time. Remind yourself of the impact that stress has on the body. Who knows, maybe you could fit in a power nap while waiting!
- Prioritize sleep time: Set a daily time to fall asleep and stick to it. Most people require 7-9 hours of sleep a night to wake up rested and refreshed, so sticking to a routine will allow your body to develop a sleeping habit. The sleeping hours before midnight are often most effective, so try getting in bed before 12.