"Holidays" and "hectic" seem to be synonymous descriptions for the period from Thanksgiving through New Year's. It's hard to maintain any kind of routine, and there is so much delicious food between holiday meals, parties, gift baskets and grab-it-as-you-can-get-it meals. Who has the time to count calories or keep up with an exercise program? Your clothes get tighter around the waist, and your New Year's resolutions to lose weight are never really fulfilled.
There are effective ways to forgo much of the weight gain and possibly even lose some weight while still enjoying the spirit of the season.
As active as you are running to stores, cooking, entertaining and partying, you might mistakenly believe that you are getting enough exercise. A proper exercise routine will work out your heart and muscles and focus on toning your entire body. Physical trainers recommend that you exercise early in the morning before you are too distracted and too tired. Some of the best cardio and strengthening exercises that can be done in just 15 to 30 minutes are walking, running, cycling, squats, elliptical, planking, push-ups and turning up the music and dancing in place. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before starting any rigid exercise regimen. Even if you aren't up to the more strenuous exercise routines, there's always yoga, tai chi and other exercises designed to increase endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Whether you join a gym or do exercises in the privacy of your own home, it's easy to get into shape this holiday season.
Indulging in heavy fats and sweets and overdoing alcoholic beverages seems to be the usual pattern during the holidays. Whether you are hosting or joining family holiday dinners, shuffling invites to parties or attending business get-togethers, there will be mounds of delicacies and lots of calories. Even just running errands, visiting shopping malls and taking the time to wrap all of the Christmas presents means less time for proper food preparation and the temptation to grab whatever is easiest to satisfy your hunger. It may seem impossible to keep those calories in check or to manage the proper balance of nutrients and energy. Don't despair, there are ways to tilt the scales -- literally -- in your favor and still enjoy all the tastes of the season.
Don't worry if your aunt has brought her award-winning pumpkin pie to the family gathering; you don't have to turn her down. Just take a sliver instead of a whole piece. You can enjoy occasional morsels of tasty treats without filling yourself with sugary confections and empty calories. And if you are responsible for bringing dessert to a party, consider making bite-size portions instead of large stuff-your-face servings, such as mini-cupcakes instead of full-size cakes. Concentrate on vegetable platters and proteins on the buffet table instead of downing buttered rolls or chips and dip. Most party fare is served late in the evening. Eat a salad at home before attending one of these gatherings so you will be in better control of your appetite.
Keep lots of healthful snacks and proteins in your own fridge to grab when you are on the run and need to satisfy your hunger. It's not a great idea to skip meals, because then you tend to binge when you finally have the time to sit for a meal. Keep cut vegetables like celery and carrots, grilled chicken strips, hard-boiled eggs and individual slices of low-fat cheeses to fulfill your hunger and give you the proteins to keep you moving. A not-so-sneaky trick to your snacking is to keep foods high on the catabolic and calorie burning list available. Catabolic foods tend to use up more calories for digestion than you actually eat: some catabolic foods include apples, celery, cucumbers, strawberries, Bartlett pears, carrots, pineapple, zucchini, flounder, cod-steaks and white meats without skin or fat.