Five strategies for a guilt-free, waistline-friendly holiday season

The problem is that there isn’t just one special occasion here and there

Ah – the most wonderful time of the year is beginning! From Thanksgiving to Christmas the average person gains 7-10 pounds. We KNOW this, but we do it anyway. Most people do absolutely nothing to stop it. So why is this?

We tend to use special occasions as an excuse not just to overindulge but to binge. It’s your birthday (or the day after or the week of)? Cake for breakfast becomes perfectly reasonable. Halloween? A dozen mini-chocolates? Totally acceptable –(they’re mini after all, right?)

The problem with this season is that there isn’t just one special occasion here and there.

Between the DAY of the holiday itself, the numerous parties, work functions and so on, many days become a special occasion where we apply the ‘anything goes rule’.

What I’m sharing below are the tools I personally use to enjoy a guilt-free, waistline-friendly holiday season…

1. Approach the holidays with an abundance mindset – this applies to any event really. The truth is, there is nothing truly special about holiday meals aside from the people we share them with. We live in a first world country where the foods we want are at our fingertips 365 days per year. So, in reality, you could have Thanksgiving/Xmas in part or in whole at any time. When you approach food with an abundance mindset, it’s a lot easier to practice holiday levels of moderation.

2 Expect, accept and embrace over-indulgence –it would be completely unreasonable for me to sit and lecture you on not over-indulging. Especially because I’ll likely be doing it myself!

A key for me is being okay with it, not wracking myself with guilt because I knew it was coming! Heck, I plan on it – not to the extreme, but I’m not going to practice my normal rule of eating to 80% full. The damage stress does and the way it affects hormonal balance (and ultimately how much body fat we have) is far worse than having one big meal – so go enjoy it!

3. Fill your plate with protein and veggies first, then add tastes of all the other goodies – I’m totally okay with you overdoing these two food groups (see point above). But when you strategically fill your plate with the better stuff, you’re obviously going to be better off. Even a plate of broccoli isn’t good for you when you’re in caloric excess, BUT it’s going to take you much longer and with much more food to reach that point when you maintain focus on protein and veggies with smaller tastes of starchy carb-rich dishes and desserts.

4. Plan to move – whether you go for a hike with your family, get a hard strength workout, or simply take a 20-minute walk, vow to do something to get your body moving before the big meal! You’ll feel much better all day for it.

5. Splurge only once – a holiday is only one DAY – not an entire season, so this bit of advice is two-fold.

Plan to splurge only on the actual DAY of the holiday (or whichever day you celebrate) and only once during that day. No need for a full breakfast, Thanksgiving meal, then another full plate of leftovers that evening.

Sure, it tastes good, but you’ll feel completely miserable and be working to undo the damage for weeks to come!

So, there you have my top five guilt-free strategies! I promise if you apply these, you’ll be a lot less likely to end up in the category of people who gain weight over the holidays!

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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