As stores become flooded with pumpkins, pilgrims and poinsettias, we begin what is commonly referred to as the "Bermuda Triangle" season. Trying to navigate the foods often associated with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve can be a challenge. Yet, what if you begin the health change(s) you want to make NOW before the holiday season commences?
The notion that we can start to make nutrition, exercise and health changes BEFORE the New Year sounds impossible at first. Consider the alternative: You wait until January 1st, but meanwhile you gain additional weight that you will need to lose. For those of you who have already lost weight through eating changes, you could regain some of the pounds you've lost after the many months of discipline. Perhaps your goal is to exercise more "in the new year", imagine starting NOW and you will have already jumpstarted your workout regimen BEFORE January 1st!
Let's explore a new way of thinking. Weight loss is tricky during this time of year, but perhaps weight maintenance is a more realistic health goal. This can be accomplished by enjoying seasonal dishes in moderation and including a form of exercise most days of the week. Make appointments for yourself to keep moving! Choose a brisk walk, a bike ride that gets your heart pumping, a pick-up game of basketball or any physical activity you enjoy to burn calories, build muscle and boost your outlook. Consider, for example, adding strength training or a stretching routine to your cardio workout. The variety will add interest to your routine and often burns additional calories. (Please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise plan.) If weight loss is your long-term goal, celebrate your successes even if it is at a slower pace than you would like. A gradual weight loss has been associated with true lifestyle change and long-term weight maintenance.
Another helpful tool is to have a plan for those holiday work parties, potlucks and family dinners. Eating before you attend sounds counter-intuitive, but arriving at a party or dinner hungry can sabotage your weight loss goal. A mini meal that includes some lean protein and whole grains, such as low-fat cheese and whole wheat crackers, can be satisfying and can stave off hunger longer than a sweet snack. Drinking a glass of water before meals will fill you up a bit so you will eat less and help you meet your daily water needs. You can still enjoy foods at your holiday gatherings. By choosing a luncheon-sized plate, you can limit portion sizes and calories. Packing seasonal fresh fruit, lean protein or low-fat dairy for work ensures you will have a snack on hand when your co-workers bring goodies to the office. With a plan in place, you can continue to work toward your health goals.
Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.
So, this holiday season armed with your new way of thinking, you can stay on course as you enter the New Year with good health!