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Tips for Enjoying Healthy, Active Holidays
C.W. Schurman Dec 2005
Concerned about staying on track with your eating plan when you’re eating out all the time or grabbing food on the run? Have you decided to steer clear of holiday parties in order to avoid sabotaging your best efforts? Struggling to find time for your regular exercise program with a toddler climbing all over you? Wondering if there is a way to shave time off your workouts and still stay fit until things slow down a bit in January? We have included our favorite maintenance strategies to try until you can regroup after the holidays.
7 Top Away-From-Home Food Strategies
- Healthy snacks
Arm yourself with healthy snacks at the office so you can avoid the doughnuts, homemade goodies, and chocolate that office mates bring in to share.
- Do not shop for food when hungry
Have a small snack before going grocery shopping so you will be less likely to grab impulse items that might be higher in fat, sugar, or calories than you would like.
- Fast food options
If you absolutely must go to a Fast-Food joint, consider looking for one of the healthier restaurants such as Subway or Quizno’s, or choose one of the more wholesome options on the menu: a chicken sandwich, a salad without the dressing, or even a small burger without fries or any extra cheese, bacon or special sauce (or only half the bun) until you have a chance to grab something healthier.
- Avoid inner aisles
Try to stay on the outer portions of the grocery store – where the fresh produce, dairy and deli sections are – rather than roaming into the aisles where you are likely to encounter pre-packaged foods that are high in sodium and preservatives, and considerably lower in nutritional value.
- On the side
When eating out with friends, order your food with the butter, dressing, or sauces on the side so that you can control how much you use. If you are afraid the temptation will be too much, simply ask for your food without them. Try lemon wedges, spices, or pepper to add flavor without any extra calories.
- Healthy stashes everywhere
Store healthy snacks in your purse, gym bag, work drawer, anywhere you are likely to get hungry. If you have something nearby whenever you start feeling hungry, you will be less inclined to eat sugary sweets when they make their way under your nose.
- Double up on toddler snacks
If you have a child and provide snacks for him or her during the day, bring double and have a snack at the same time – it’s likely your child’s snacks are healthier than your own would normally tend to be!
7 Holiday Party Eating Tips
- Small plates
Use a smaller salad or bread plate instead of a dinner plate, so you will be less tempted to take too much food; or fill half of the plate with lower-calorie salad, vegetables, or fruits first. The “small plate” idea also works very well at home, especially if you usually make enough for leftovers.
- Ditch the plate
Once you have finished with the food on your plate, take it to the kitchen (if you are at home) or throw your paper plate away (if it is disposable and if you are at a party) and then acknowledge to yourself that you can eat again in a few hours or whenever you are legitimately hungry again..
- Do not arrive famished
Eat a small snack and drink a large glass of water before you head to the party. You will not be as hungry or as tempted to eat when you first arrive. Or take your own snack with you to nibble on.
- Keep your hands occupied
Take a purse, notebook, framed photo, business card holder, or some unobtrusive item that is too large for your pockets, so that one hand will remain occupied during most of the party – you will only have one hand free to hold a drink or shake hands of people you meet.
- Write it all down
In your purse or wallet, carry a pen and paper or your food journal, and if you decide that you are tempted to eat something that you might regret, write down each and every bite or drink as you indulge. By committing to write down your food intake, you most likely will skip eating decadent treats entirely in order to avoid going to the lengths of calculating the fat grams and calories after the fact, or even worse, trying to explain to some stranger what you are doing, or to a friend who knows what you are trying to do!
- Eat away from the buffet
Go to the food buffet only if you are legitimately hungry. Once you have your plate, move away from the display. Standing right by the food encourages “unconscious picking” and you can quite easily devour several hundred calories’ worth of food without even being aware of it. Eat consciously.
- Do not deny yourself
Do not deny yourself anything but do try to modify your portion size. Denial almost always backfires, resulting in your consuming more calories (of something not nearly as tasty as the thing you are trying to avoid) than you would have if you had eaten the thing you really wanted in the first place!
Looking for additional strategies? See www.bodyresults.com/e3holidayeating.asp for more.
7 Time-Saving Training Tips
Include short 20-minute intervals workouts a few times a week to help boost your anaerobic capacity and enhance your fat-burning efforts. For example, if you decide you would like to train on a rowing machine, warm up for five minutes, then sprint by pulling as hard as you can for 10 strokes, then recover for 10 easy strokes and repeat 10-15 times, followed by a cool down for 5 minutes. On other aerobic machines, sprint for 30 seconds and recover for a minute, repeat.
Consider including a circuit workout alternating between strength and cardiovascular training in order to get both in during the same short workout
- Be creative
Look for ways to move during the day that do not require setting aside your usual workout time – such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator; walking from the far end of the parking lot when doing your shopping; getting off the bus a few stops earlier to force you to walk home; speed-cleaning for time, with music cranked up in the background so that you can throw in the occasional jig when the urge strikes you.
- Short spurts can work
Get creative with your workouts, and remember it is CUMULATIVE MOVEMENT you are looking for over the course of the day. Getting in three 10-minute walks during the day will end up being infinitely better for you than the 30 minute walk in the evening that you never complete because you simply cannot find the time.
- “Me time”
Schedule 30 minutes for yourself sometime during each day and treat yourself as your most important appointment. Use the time to stretch, walk, meditate, or get in a quick workout – this will help you keep a clear head and function better during the rest of the day.
- Fill “dead time”
Find new and creative ways to move during “dead” or “line” time—doing calf raises on a curb when waiting for a bus, a set of wall pushups (regular or reverse) in the bathroom after every trip, grabbing a door frame or pullup bar and doing a hang or chin up every time you go by, or tightening and releasing the abdominals while driving your car. While these do not in and of themselves constitute a “workout” per se, every time you can do more MOVEMENT you get added benefits.
- “20 min. from house” rule
If you have a day of errands, plan ahead and try grouping stops near each other with walks in between rather than getting into your car to go 2 minutes away. Make a rule that you will walk to accomplish anything within 20 minutes of walking distance of your house (with the exception of getting gas – obviously you need the car for that!) Even grocery shopping can be done on foot if you have less than 30 pounds of food to pick up –load up your BACKPACK!
7 Tips for Staying Active During the Holidays with a Child
- Jingle bell walk
If it is particularly cold where you live, bundle up your toddler (and yourself), hand your child a bell and go for a jingle bell walk to admire the neighborhood lights and decorations. The fresh air will do you both a lot of good and help you both get some exercise at the same time.
For those of you who have white winters, join your child in a morning or afternoon of sledding. Traipsing up and down hillsides pulling your child in a sled, or getting into snowball fights, means calories burned and good naps or night’s sleep for everyone.
- Power shopping
Armed ahead of time with a list of exactly what you need to purchase, get your child involved identifying foods, gifts, or other objects and see how quickly you can get everything done. If you have a toddler, carry the child in a pack for some added strength endurance.
- Short spurts
Similar to Time-saving training tip #4, remember that several short 10-15 minute segments accumulated throughout the day can be your survival technique during the holiday. This might mean a brisk walk to the post office with toddler in stroller, some crunches and squats while your child splashes in the tub, or high knee marches, butt kicks, and dancing in the living room while pretending you are part of a marching band.
- Theme walks
Instead of taking the same route every time you go out, make discovery a part of your jaunts. Try flipping a coin at every intersection for the first half of your outing; heads could mean turn left, tails turn right, and if you see a dog, cat or squirrel on the block you go straight at the next intersection. Try finding as many hills as you can and go up and down them at least twice. Look for unusual objects as you would on a scavenger hunt to help make your way around the neighborhood. You will benefit from the exercise, and your child will stay engaged, interested, and have fun at the same time.
- Active games
What kid does NOT love a game of hide-and-seek, chase, kickball or climbing? Instead of letting your child loose at the indoor play park or outside playground, join in the fun!
- Winter sports
If your child is over the age of 3 (we started our daughter sledding at age 18 months), it might be a good time to consider participating in a family activity such as skiing. This could be the start of an annual tradition around the holidays. But if ski gear and lift tickets are too cost prohibitive, remember that glissading, similar to sledding but involving sliding while seated on your butt directly on the snow, is one of the most exhilarating, inexpensive ways to play with mother nature in winter!
Happy Holidays and best wishes to you for staying healthy and active year round!