It happens every year – we even have come to expect it as a normal part of life. The holidays come, the weather is cooler, we are less active and we eat and drink more. A LOT more. Halloween comes and it is a day devoted to remembering the dead – and eating and drinking. Thanksgiving comes and it is a day devoted to giving thanks and spending time with loved ones – and eating and drinking. Then come the several weeks of holiday parties devoted to seeing old friends, celebrating religious holidays, dressing up in ugly sweaters and cocktail dresses – and eating and drinking. Finally, we celebrate the end of it all as the New Year begins with more drinking. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great red wine and the occasional glass of champagne. I even love some of the incredible food everyone has to share. But one thing I have learned is that you can not eat and drink to your heart’s content and make it through the holidays without gaining weight.
For most of us, the average weight gain has been estimated to be around 5-7 lbs per year. Over 5 years that could equal 25-35lbs for a lot of people. And for many of us it never comes off. So how do we make it through the holidays without gaining weight and still enjoy ourselves? Better yet, how do we make it through the holidays and lose weight and still enjoy ourselves? The answer is pretty simple – self control and planning. I know a lot of people will argue that it’s too hard and life is too short to not enjoy it and in many ways they are correct. But the truth is that in many ways we all need to suck it up and do the hard stuff.
So here are a few tips to making it through.
1.PLAN, Plan, plan. Sit down at the beginning of the week and figure out what you have going on. Wine tasting on Thursday, hot date on Friday and family dinner on Sunday? Plan it into your days. If you know you are going to drink wine, save your carbohydrates (and your fat) to the end of the day. If you know you are going to a certain restaurant, check out the menu online and figure out what they have that you can eat that fits your diet. If you know your mom is going to cook your absolute favorite macaroni and cheese that you just can’t live without, then program those carbs (and a SMALL serving) in to your day.
2. Eat at home. I know this is almost impossible for a lot of you Dallas peeps. Eating out is the norm around here because there is SO much good food here! However, you have no control when you eat out. They use tons of fat, the serving are enormous and you are always tempted to “live it up just this once”. So whenever possible, eat at home where you can control the ingredients and the serving sizes. Sometimes I will actually eat something at home before going out to dinner with friends and then just not eat at the restaurant or have something small. As a cherry on top, you will save a ton of money doing this!
3. If you are going to eat out, take control.
- Plan it out. Check out the menu ahead of time and see what they have that fits your diet.
- Call ahead and ask if they will make you something that will fit your diet.
- Be a pain in the ass and don’t apologize for it. Tell your waiter you need something specific and they will almost always help you out. I’ve even asked specifically for 5oz of grilled Mahi Mahi with no added fat and no sauce and a side of steamed broccoli. It’s actually easier for them to cook and they can get a big tip for helping you out. You are at the restaurant to get what you want to eat and if they can’t help you out then why pay for something you don’t want?
- Remove chips, breads, dips and unnecessary temptations from the table.
- Don’t drink. Yeah, I said it. Don’t drink.
4. Don’t drink. Yeah, I said it again. If you want to be successful over the holidays then you have to control yourself and let’s face it, we have less self control when we drink. If you are going to drink then:
- Have a drink. That means one. And plan it into your diet (that means less carbs and fat that day).
- If you are tempted by everyone else drinking then do something to fool yourself like have a soda water with lime. It looks pretty and the bubbles make it more satisfying.
- Drink clear liquids like tequila or vodka or wine. Red wine is also okay. Mixed drinks cover the sharp flavor and make us want more and more.
- Sip your drink! Slow languoring satisfaction tastes better anyway.
- Drink water with your drink. One sip of wine, one sip of water. It will last longer and taste better. It will also prevent the dreaded hangover the next day.
- If you are going to blow it out, just know you are going to gain pounds for the next few days. It takes a while to reset your metabolism after all of that. The next day get back to normal and cut that crap out.
5. Go to the gym. Plan it into your week so that you are there a minimum of 3 days per week. Santa is watching and he wants you to take care of yourself! Oh, and knowing you have all of this fun food and drink stuff going on, maybe you should increase it to 5 days? It is a simple formula of calories eaten verses calories burned. Earn your carbs y’all. Earn your carbs!