Sunday, October 26, 2008

Survive The Holidays

Survive the holidays without excessive weight gain!

Okay, so we all know that with the approaching holidays comes the dreaded 10 pound weight gain. Then January brings with it a renewed resolution to shed a few pounds in the new year. How many people actually achieve this goal, probably not very many. What if you could prevent the weight gain and still enjoy a healthy, happy holidays? The truth is YOU CAN!

Step #1: You MUST build and maintain lean muscle mass if you want to obtain or maintain a healthy weight over the holidays or throughout your life.
Cardio workouts are great, BUT over time you will lose muscle mass and your metabolism will begin to slow down, especially after the age of 30. The ONLY way to prevent muscle loss as you age and keep your metabolism up is weight training.

According to The Journal of Applied Physiology: "Weight-bearing activity provides an osteogenic stimulus." This osteogenic stimulus results in higher bone mineral density."1 Not only does weight training help you maintain lean muscle mass and improve metabolism, it will also protect you from osteoporosis. I do weight training 4 times per week for 20 -30 minutes followed by 45 minutes of aerobic exercise. This is the optimal combination for overall fitness and weight loss. Make sure you combine cardio workouts to help burn calories and weight training help boost your metabolism.

Step #2: Do NOT try to save up calories for the party that night.
You will set yourself up for absolute failure. If you go to a holiday party hungry you will end up eating everything in sight and the wallpaper off the walls too. This rule is true anytime. You should never go hungry.
When you are trying to lose weight you should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Your meals should be balanced and small. You should not eat until you feel full, but you should not starve either. It is about listening to your body, eating when hungry, stopping when satiated.
Balance your calories throughout the day and you will avoid binging in the evening and at holiday parties. Apples and 6 almonds or celery and hummus are great low calorie high nutrient snacks. If you need a snack to help you curb excess eating at a party these should help.

Step #3 Don't deprive yourself.
If you feel deprived you will end up binging. It is important to eat foods that taste good to you and satisfy you emotionally as well as physically. If you are going to crave a dessert at a party, bring a delicious low fat pumpkin pie or apple pie. Slowly enjoy a small serving of your dessert and enjoy your evening. The important key factor with not depriving yourself is, choose wisely. This doesn't mean indulge in anything and everything. It means bring a sensible dessert or food that will satisfy you without being too high in fat or calories.

#4 Go for the veggies first!
Veggies are low in calories, high in nutrients and very filling. If you eat a wide variety of vegetables before moving on to the main meal and dessert you will fill up on less calories. This will help curb the weight gain and keep you satiated. This is an excellent tried and true weight loss tip: Veggies First!

Step #5: Careful with the sugars, it's best to bring your own dessert.
I know you are hating me at the moment, I'm telling you to forgo our country's favorite addiction, Sugar!
Desserts generally combine sugar and fat, a weight loss nightmare. When you eat sugar with fats the fat competes with glucose for uptake when insulin is released. This forces glucose to circulate in the blood stream longer and can lead to insulin resistance later in life.

This same scenario is a disaster for weight loss as well. The sugar stimulates insulin release that will cause direct uptake of the fat into the cells, leading to increased fat on the body. You do not want to create this scenario if you are trying to lose weight or curb the holiday weight gain.
I have fat free, naturally sweetened pumpkin pie, apple pie and other sweet recipes that will help you indulge your sweet tooth without gaining excessive weight this holiday season. Sure it's okay to eat a chocolate, that means ONE, or a small serving of dessert but if you know you cannot refrain after having a small serving, it is better to leave it alone.

Step #6: Monitor your calorie intake over the holidays.
Enjoy your holiday foods, but monitor your calorie intake. There are many choices available for calorie counting software, several of which are free, a simple internet search will help you locate a variety software programs to help you.

We all lie to ourselves. I know this because I have worked with many, many people over the years and almost every one of them lied to me about their food intake. They would be struggling to lose weight or struggling with blood sugar levels etc. and would say, I'm eating perfectly but it's not working.

It took A LOT of prying until they finally cracked and I found out they were eating anything but perfectly. We all will all grab a little chocolate here and there, snack on chips or crackers, eat a donut and then pretend it never happened and before we know it we've exceeded the amount of calories our body can burn in a day and viola, weight gain.

Be honest! If you know you can't be honest with yourself, keep a food journal. You might be surprised to find that you don't eat as well as you think you do.

Step #7: You've got to stay in CONTROL! Do not let food control you!
Every single American I have ever met in my life is controlled by food! Try telling someone that their favorite chocolate cake is bad for them and you'll know exactly what I mean. You MUST stay in control. We all justify ourselves, well it's Thanksgiving so I'll eat this, or it's a party I'll have some junk food and before you know it you've had four servings and have to unbutton your pants.

Enjoy talking with your family or friends at the party, or make your goal to focus on good conversation and enjoying the company. Unfortunately we make every social engagement about food when it should be about celebrating the wonderful people in our lives. It isn't about food, it is about people. Eat consciously, pay attention to your body and eat slowly. This will help curb the over indulgence and the resultant discomfort from over eating. Stay in control, don't make the holidays about food, make it about giving thanks and enjoying the company.

Can I survive the holidays meat and dairy free?

Absolutely, try my pumpkin crème brulee and you'll be singing dairy free praises for a week!

I have made the most creamy, luscious desserts, scalloped potatoes and other holiday fare that would satisfy the most avid meat and potato lover! I personally do not care for the texture of meat so in my home I do not actually substitute for it, But I know there are many out there who want meat substitutes or have family members who insist it isn't a meal without meat. For those in that situation, I do offer recipes for tempeh sausage, bacon, un-turkey and other substitutes so that all can find a more peaceful way to celebrate the holidays.

1 comment:

Zarebski said...

I too have setted some goals for weight loss & stricly following Weight Watchers diet plan for achieve it.