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Holidays Can Really Pack a Punch

December 31, 2009
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The holiday season doesn't have to wreak havoc on your weight-loss goals, according to the folks at TOPS Club, Inc. ("Take Off Pounds Sensibly"), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization. Follow these 10 strategies to navigate the eating season for a great time without a great gain.

· Don't go hungry. Arriving at a party on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster; it can lead you to overeat and make poor choices. Have a light snack of a low-fat, high-fiber food a half-hour before you go, such as yogurt, an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, a piece of string cheese or vegetables with low-calorie dip. This will help curb your appetite and make it easier to control your intake. In fact, this is good advice to follow the whole year through!

· Treat yourself. There's no need to ban your favorites. But first, decide what you want to try and then set a limit. Cakes, cookies and pies are available year-round, so indulge in small portions of only the best seasonal foods. Just a taste of something special can be enough to quell a craving without going overboard.

· Take control. Offer to bring a low-calorie dish to holiday gatherings (again, this can be true for parties throughout the year). By preparing something that you know fits into your meal plan, you'll have at least one healthy item on hand, and other guests will likely appreciate it. Your hostess may also be grateful for the lessened stress of preparing multiple platters.

· Slow your pace. Eat slowly until you are satisfied, not until you are stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to signal that you're feeling full, so enjoy each bite and give yourself time to know when you have had enough. You will likely consume less than usual.

· Mind your beverages. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help feel full and hydrated. Adding a twist of lemon or lime to sparkling water is a lively alternative to alcohol and coffee drinks, which can actually make you feel sluggish. Alcohol can also impair your judgment and make it hard to stick to nutritional eating. If you do choose to imbibe, select light beers and wines, and limit your intake to one or two drinks per occasion. Drink high-calorie seasonal favorites -- like egg nog, punch and full-fat hot chocolate -- in moderation, or steer clear of them altogether.

· Pair up with a friend. Make a pact that you will support and help keep each other on track. Don't hesitate to lean on each other if you need encouragement to resist tempting treats or power through a workout. Remember, you're not the only one refraining from holiday overindulgence.

· Keep moving.It's easy to let workouts fall by the wayside. If you aren't able to set aside time each day for exercise, then commit to at least 30 minutes three days per week. Many people continue their regular walking or jogging schedules year-round, but also consider race-walking in malls or even in the building where you work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Indoor pools, weight-workout rooms, tracks and basketballs courts are often available in community facilities and schools. Municipal ice-skating rinks, both indoors and out, offer a change of pace from the usual routine; same with bowling. Cross-country skiing and hiking let you build up your strength while enjoying nature's beauty. Maintaining a workout routine can also help you manage stress by releasing "feel-good" endorphins, as well as provide time out from worry and harried thoughts.

· Rest up. Make adequate sleep -- seven to eight hours -- a priority, especially during this busy season. Getting enough rest can help repair your body, keep you mentally sharp and enable you to be more productive.

· Make friends and family a priority. Although food and drinks can be a big part of the holiday season, they don't have to be the focus. Set aside time to spend with friends, family and neighbors, making memories that make the holidays worthwhile.

· Keep your perspective. Be realistic and maintain a long-term view of your weight-loss goals. Overeating one day won't make or break your plans; just aim to eat healthy and in moderation the next day. Dieting can be especially difficult during the holidays. Focus on maintaining your present weight and look toward the new year as a fresh start.

Remember, the coming year will bring more holidays to enjoy. Employ these suggested tips, and soon you'll feel as good about yourself as you did before Thanksgiving -- one more reason to celebrate. 

 

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