Your Healthy Holiday Challenge

By on December 17, 2014
family at table at holiday meal

According to the National Institute of Health, most Americans only gain one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Are you thinking that just one pound can’t be that hard to lose in January following a healthy holiday challenge? Well, the reality is that most Americans never actually shed the weight — and come next December, they add on another pound. Repeat the process over many years, and before you know it, you’re as round as Old Saint Nick.

On January 1st, no one wants their tummy to jiggle like a bowl full of jelly. Step into 2015 feeling healthy and renovated with these simple tips for staying on track during the holidays.

Do Keep Up Your Habits

When your calendar is packed, it’s easy to go a week between workouts during the holiday season. To stay on track, exercise in the morning when you’re less likely to blow off your sweat session for other plans. Something is better than nothing, so if all you have time for is a 20-minute walk around the block, do it! Another great way to hold yourself accountable is to schedule workout dates with a friend.

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Don’t Skip Meals

It seems logical to “save up” your calories for an indulgent dinner, but you’re more likely to binge if you go to a party hungry. Eat balanced, protein-packed meals throughout the day to increase satiety.

Do Focus

At holiday get-togethers, don’t munch standing up — save your calories for food that is served on a plate with silverware. During the meal, focus on your food as much as possible instead of haphazardly shoving it into your mouth as you catch up with friends.

Don’t Eat Store-Bought Desserts

Treats abound during the holidays; make your sweets count. Skip store-bought goodies (which aren’t really that good anyway!) and only partake in homemade desserts.

Do Fill Up Half Your Plate with Greens

Load up on a salad, roasted veggies, or steamed collard greens. The real calorie bombs of holiday meals are potatoes, casseroles, meats, and dressings.

Do Consider a Food Diary

One study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who logged their food intake six days a week lost twice as much as those who only did it one a day week.

Don’t Reach for the Largest Plate

You eat and drink more from large plates, bowls and cups. Opt for a salad plate instead of a dinner plate and slash your calories without feeling deprived.

Do “End the Meal”

When you’re done eating, pop a piece of minty gum in your mouth, warm up a cup of herbal tea or brush your teeth. This action signals to your palette that the meal is truly over, and you won’t be tempted to continue picking at leftovers.

Don’t Lie on the Couch

After holiday meals, suggest that the group go for a walk, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or play touch football on the lawn. It’s a great way to bond — and burn off a few extra calories!

Caitlin Boyle is a blogger, motivational speaker and author of the book Healthy Tipping Point: A Powerful Program for a Stronger, Happier You. She helps her husband run a holistic health clinic in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Life and Beauty Weekly .

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Your Healthy Holiday Challenge