Tis that time of year to turn your scales back 10 pounds! NOT! Actually….tis the season of the bodybuilders bulking dream! The season of holiday parties adorned with white crudites with buttermilk dip, apple cider-ginger brined turkeys, creamy winter squash soup, egg nog, and speculaas cookies…wha? Maybe if you are Martha Stewart (which is where I got that menu)… I don’t even know what a crudite is. Bring on the mashed potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pie, pie and more pie sprinkled with cookies…. and maybe a few donuts, right?
This is all fun in games until you can’t button your pants anymore. You know that “must loosen the belt” feeling. I wear athletic pants so that solves that problem but really, packing on the extra pounds this time of year is super common and is hard to work off.
Now, you can sit there and follow tips like chew your food 1,000 times to help you slow your eating (ew). Not for me. I will be busy listening to conversation rather than counting to 1,000 in my head. I do enough of that in the gym.
Before you throw in the towel and get thinking about that damn New Years Resolution , try staving off those added pounds of fat with these simple tips….sorry, turning the scale back 10 pounds isn’t one of them!
1) Exercise the morning of your big holiday dinner.
Even if it’s just a walk, get moving. The best exercises you can do the morning of a giant food fest is to get in HIIT training (read more on HIIT here or HIIT for beginners) or anything intense and high rep! Also, working larger muscle groups like your legs or back will help burn more cals as well. Ideally, work out within a 4 hour window of the dinner.
You can create your own circuit (click here for circuit workout), lift in a higher rep range like 15-20 or 20-30 reps, or try this 18 minute HIIT workout. Whatever it is, get it in to ramp up that metabolism for hours after your workout.
2) Have a plan.
Keep meals smaller leading up to your holiday meal but don’t arrive starving. New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you stay on track despite all the temptation. “Don’t go to a party when you’re starving,” she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.” Planning ahead when it comes to your diet is always a win.
3) Make sure to get in your fiber. Eat veggies with all your meals.
Fiber is filling and will keep you fuller longer. It slows digestion and controls blood sugar levels. Prioritize veggies as your fiber source, then beans then fruit. Avoid grains as a fiber source like bran muffins that have a lot of other added sugar, flour and fat. Read more on fiber here.
4) Drink 2 glasses of water before your meal.
While this isn’t the greatest tip to help with digestion as it dilutes your gastric juices, it can be a great tip to fill up. Research shows that stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as your stomach fills up. I personally like to drink carbonated water like San Pelligrino or Zevia as that carbonation is pretty darn filling.
But, drinking all this water prior to eating dilutes your gastric juices. For people like me that don’t produce enough HCL in their stomach, reflux can ensue. If you are one of those people, take a digestive enzyme prior to eating along with all that water you are going to fill up on.
5) Bring foods to share that you would rather eat.
I do this ALL THE TIME! I bring a few dishes, yes a few, that I know I would eat bringing choices that fits my lifestyle. That way, if there are foods there that I choose not to eat, I won’t go hungry. 🙂
6) Eat your veggies and protein first.
Fill up on the good stuff before digging into the bread, taters and pie! Protein will keep you fuller longer as will those high fiber veggies. And, you are more likely to over eat those simple carbs than you would broccoli.
7) Eat your favorite foods and skip the mundanes.
Don’t waste your calories on that mushy green bean casserole or the weird cranberry slices from a can. Stick to your favs to start and then ask yourself if that mundane food is really worth the added pounds.
8) Put your fork down between bites.
Yes, do this. If you have never done this it may seem like a laborious act. But, it really isn’t. I practice this daily, especially when I am out to dinner or at a friends house to really enjoy my food and family at dinner time. So, instead of counting how many times to chew each bite, just set your fork down between bites. It’s polite, it shows you are enjoying the food and good company and it slows you down from shoveling that stuffing in your pie hole like a bulking bodybuilder.
9) Wait 20 minutes before helping yourself to seconds, or thirds.
Think about this… this dinner is the coming together of family and friends. Enjoy your food, enjoy the company and sit back and relax before diving into another helping. Don’t think of this as a food event. It’s a gathering of loved ones.
10) Clear your plate when done eating and keep those after dinner snacks to the other side of the table.
It is easy to just keep eating more while you are sitting there! When the visiting begins, try to clear your plate to avoiding adding more food while chatting and keep the post meal snack food on the other side of the table.
Apparently, for every seated guest, people on average consume 35 extra calories for each of those people… uh… that’s kind of a lot in my fam when you have 8 aunts and uncles, a zillion cousins and about a million kids. We rent a hall and set up numerous tables for a sit down dinner. So, I better watch it.
Just make sure those favorite little snackies are at the other end of the table once you feel full.
which brings me to my next tip…
11) Listen to your body!
If you feel full, chill and sip on your drink, bubbly water or a zevia. Don’t keep shoveling in those candied pecans sitting there looking so damn tasty.
12) Just say no.
In my family, your Mom, your Grandma, your Aunt, your whoever matriarchal person will ask you if you want more and then put food on your plate regardless… srsly. It’s much like a rendition of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But honestly, you have to just say no. I don’t know how many times I have actually taken that serving off my plate because if it’s on there, I will end up eating it.
Be diplomatic and explain nicely to your beloved G-ma that you would like to pass on that serving and maybe add in a adamant hand gesture or something because that what my fam understands (and I am not talking about the middle finger hand gesture…. okay, okay).
13) Get everyone out for a post dinner walk.
This is something I like to do after a big meal before dessert (or after dessert)… clean up, bundle up and head outside to get the blood movin.
14) Get back on track the next day!
The next day, get back to your plan, your normal way of meal planning and gym going.
If you happen to be so hard core (or in contest prep) that you are willing to be a douche (okay not really) and bring your own container of food to this holiday feast then try this so that you don’t alienate Aunt Betty and insult her culinary work.
1a.) Cut carbs in half for two days prior to the Holiday Meal.
1b.) Cut calories mildly for the entire week before.
2.) The day of, eat until you are full but don’t go ape shit! Follow the guidelines above and enjoy the dinner. Use your hand to portion foods and get a good workout in that day.