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5 Tips for Keeping Off Extra Pounds This Holiday Season

Nov 15, 2012 01:10PM ● By Erin Frisch

5 Tips for Keeping Off Extra Pounds This Holiday Season

The holidays are all about family, friends, and festivities. All the get-togethers and parties come with a familiar struggle: you resolve not to gain weight during the holidays only to be faced with tasty hors d'oeuvres, traditional treats, and banquet-size potlucks and buffets at every turn. The focus is definitely on feasting. Starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s (or for some of us, the Super Bowl), the calories add up quickly and the result is weight gain that we resolve to lose, with or without success, before swimsuit season. Putting on the holiday pounds is preventable, and you can still enjoy the festivities. Just follow our five tips below!

1. Limit alcohol

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases appetite. The combination can result in throwing caution–and your goals–to the wind and overindulging. In addition, alcoholic beverages contain anywhere from 150 to 300 calories per serving. Combined with appetizers, chips, nibbles, and dips, you can say good-by to your waistline. If you can cut out drinking all together, you’ll save a lot of calories. But if you choose to drink, make your choices diet-friendly, limit the number you have, and sip slowly. Try alternating a glass of wine with a glass of sparkling water, sip cranberry juice with club soda, or drink light beer with half the calories.

2. Wake up with exercise

People who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to exercise regularly than those who wait until later in the day. Morning workouts are the best way to squeeze fitness into your day before other things come up. Plus, when you exercise first, you're less likely to overindulge later. So even if you’re not a morning exerciser now, you might benefit by turning over a new leaf for the holidays. To burn off those extra calories when you do indulge in holiday treats, kick up your routine. If you normally exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes. If you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week (just be careful of ramping up too quickly; overuse injuries can put exercise on hold). In addition, work out before big holiday meals. You’ll boost your metabolism so your body processes food more efficiently.

3. Look for the healthy foods in each holiday meal

Turkey without skin is lean protein. Green beans without butter are low fat and full of nutrients. Yams without marshmallows are a complex carbohydrate (and better for you than mashed white potatoes). Fill half of your plate with salad and vegetables, a quarter with meat, and the final quarter with starch. If you’re the designated chef, visit your favorite foodie websites for tasty lower-fat recipes that won’t sacrifice the delicious flavors of the season that your family and guests expect. Offer fresh veggies and low-fat dip as an appetizer. If you’re using butter, cut the amount called for by at least one fourth. Serve a salad with a light dressing to start, and whether you’re the cook or a guest, never have seconds.

4. Limit treats to one a day

You can control how much food goes into your mouth. You can effectively prevent yourself from overeating and gaining weight, even If you are constantly bombarded with displays of desserts or candies at holiday parties. Try the one-a-day strategy. Allow yourself one small cookie or one piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Then compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a extra calories while exercising (see #2).

5. Use the buddy system

Recruit a friend who is also counting calories to help you stick to your goal. The chances are good that someone in your circle, if not a number of some ones, is also hoping to come out at the end of the season weighing the same, or even less, than they did at Halloween. There is strength in numbers, so don’t go it alone! An exercise buddy who is relying on you to show up even on the coldest mornings is worth his or her weight in candy canes. If no one wants to join you, have a friend lined up that you can call or text each day for support. It’s amazing what a simple check-in text message each morning can do for you–and your waistline!

Did we miss any tips that you have found helpful? Let us know.

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