Fit for the Holidays
By Noel Daniel
It’s easy to gain weight during the holidays,between all the stress, the limited time, and the preponderance of delicious baked goods. The biggest question is what can you do to stay as healthy as possible while the rich and decadent holidays are bearing down?
“It’s all about moderation and balancing your energy consumption,” said Kyle Schneider, Owner at Fuel Up. “Most people get in trouble because they eat the heavier caloric foods and continue to burn calories the same as before. As you eat more calories, try to burn more at the same time.”
To Schneider, this doesn’t always have to be gym time. You can walk the dog, do extra chores, go for a bike ride or hike. A gym is not required to burn off excess weight. Daily activities that require movement do the same job, if a bit less effectively. If you don’t have the time for extra exercises, try cutting back on certain foods.
“You should be intentional,” said Tara Crenshaw, Co-Owner of Food Fit at Get Fit Modesto. “Pick a few treats that you don’t want to pass up, but don’t pick every treat just because it’s there. When you are intentional you’ll realize that Nonni’s annual homemade raviolis are totally worth splurging on and the store bought cookies, cupcakes, and fruit cake can be left on the table.”
Another weighty culprit: Alcohol. Sonya Gonzalez, Owner and Operator of the Modesto Fit Body Boot Camp, warns against sugar beverages and recommends meals over calorie-dense drinks.
“I would rather eat my calories than drink them,” said Gonzalez. “With a meal you at least will get your metabolism going. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily. Hunger can be confused with thirst sometimes, so stay hydrated.”
And never forget that you can sometimes control what food is available at holiday parties. When potlucks approach, plan a healthy dish to bring along and eat without guilt. But especially, don’t forget to eat during the day.
“It will keep extra weight away,” said Victoria Popoff, Owner of Studio V Pilates & Fitness. “Always eat breakfast. It’s a proven fact that those who eat breakfast have less body fat than those who don’t. Make time for eggs and oatmeal. Always carry food with you. Snacks like dried fruit, raw nuts, and hard boiled eggs are easy to transport and will help you avoid a worse decision when you are starving.”
Brian Sherwood, Owner at Max Muscle Sports Fitness, wholeheartedly agrees.
“It’s okay to not be perfect during the holidays,” said Sherwood. “One mistake people make is they don’t eat all day and then they binge at their holiday dinners. Remember to eat your meals leading up to the big meal so you won’t go overboard.”
As for what you should be eating? Our health professionals seem united in the idea of taking the good with the bad— meaning eating those buckeye balls, but remembering to have a green smoothie for breakfast. So what’s healthy, then?
“The best answer is always a clean, whole foods type of diet,” said Schneider. “However, chicken breast, ground turkey, fish, broccoli, asparagus, steamed rice, or plain baked potato can be rather boring for a Thanksgiving or Christmas time meal. I’d recommend surrounding the fun foods with healthy meals. So have your cake, but eat your veggies too.”
Heap some salad and roasted veggies on your plate before having a few bites of that creamy, cheesy casserole, or the sweet potato bake.
“Remember that food is a choice,” said Crenshaw. “It does not have morality, food isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ it’s just a matter of how you want to feel after you eat it. You’ll find that if you end your meal with the heaping pile of mashed potatoes and gravy, you’ll only eat a few bites rather than the whole pile and you’ll be satisfied. It’s all about balance.”
Also, try to plan your meals. Popoff’s recommendation for this is Tosca Reno’s book, The Eat Clean Diet involving howto’s, shopping lists and a number of ideas. If cooking seems a little daunting, you can try a local meal prep company like Valley Meal Prep or Fit Fuel Meal Prep.
“Lose the guilt of holiday eating,” Crenshaw said. “Guilt is not a motivator. Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually eat can lead to more unhealthy behaviors. Get rid those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and then remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine the next day.”
Sherwood, again, reinforces the idea of being kind to yourself. These changes are big, and they’re happening during a very stressful time of year.
“Just do the best you can,” said Sherwood. “The biggest thing is, don’t beat yourself up if you screw up a little on your diet. Too often, one mistake has a cascading negative effect because so many people eat for emotional reasons. Just move forward and go back on your healthy lifestyle.”
And, more than anything, have a happy, healthy holiday.