Tis the season... for Balance
Tis the season... For being told we're in the process of putting on tons of holiday weight. I hate that during the holidays everywhere you look are articles about how to avoid the holiday bulge, gyms promoting specials as ways to undo the damage, I could go on. So often Hollywood gets a bad rep for making us so fixated on our appearance but when it comes to the holidays, I think we need to take a page from Hollywood's script. When was the last time you saw a Christmas movie where holiday weight gain was a plot line? Any characters who went out each day to burn off last night's pie? I'm drawing blanks too. There's no shortage of guilt in holiday movies (and shows and books) but it has nothing to do with weight gain.
The holidays are about celebrating, giving thanks (Thanksgiving is the kickoff after all), being with loved ones, spreading cheer, reflecting and looking forward. Yes, there are parties and travel, time may be more limited and you may find yourself within arms reach of temptations that are not always there, but that doesn't mean that you will gain weight or that you have to, and it also shouldn't be your focus.
It's all about balance. Every day we are confronted with choices, from picking out your outfit to how to handle a client to what to make for dinner to what documentary to watch on Netflix (only me?). These decisions are really no different from what we're confronted with at the holidays. Have a drink, eat a slice of your mom's famous apple pie, but maybe don't choose to have a drinking contest with your cousin Jim and you might not want to "just make sure" five of the two dozen cookies you baked for Santa are "safe to eat."
A few tips... [As you know, I am NOT an RD or MD and the following should NOT be taken as professional advice. It's simply what works for me and those I know.]
Plan ahead: If you're traveling or have a full dance card and know that some days you might not be able to get in a normal meal, pack snacks (or meals) and scope out food options on the road/airport/city you'll be in.
Pace yourself: It's cliche but the phrase, "it's a marathon, not a sprint," really applies here. The holidays can keep us super busy, stir up emotions and stress, and again, there are lots of temptations. Make sure you are maintaining a lifestyle that's sustainable. Sleep, staying hydrated (with water), having some quiet moments to yourself, and not overindulging every day will keep you feeling physically and mentally strong which means you will definitely snag MVP in your family trivia game or be able to beat everyone down the slopes.
Don't "save" your calories: How many times have you arrived at an event and heard someone say, almost with pride, that he/she hasn't eaten all day in anticipation? I will never understand this. Food is fuel. If you let yourself go all day without food, you're going to be depleted and if you're anything like me, you will be hangry AF and will start craving starchy foods which satisfy for about two seconds. (That isn't to say those foods are bad. I don't actually believe in "good" food and "bad" food but you can't live on carbs alone, and if you don't give your body the protein and fats it needs, you're malnourishing yourself.)
Make time to move: Travel or other holiday commitments might throw your workout routine off, but that doesn't mean all is lost. Maybe you can't hit your normal spin class or meet your trainer but I bet you probably can find somewhere to run, can play with young family members outside, ski, or do some body weight exercises. Maybe you're somewhere with a studio you've read about, go take a class! Ever heard the phrase "shopping is my cardio?" It's not going to be the same as hitting the gym but after a few hours walking around, you have likely gotten in some serious steps and it's better than sitting on the couch. Taking time to exercise isn't just about the physical, exercise does so much for the mind (hello endorphins for one). It's also a great way to bond, seriously. Grab the fam and go for a run, take a class, chop down your tree (Do people still do this? I'm Jewish and I live in NYC, I don't know how this works.). By making yourselves vulnerable and pushing through a physical challenge together, you will come away closer and have made new memories.
Don't beat yourself up: Despite your best intentions you might not do a lick of exercise, eat three servings of cake every night, or drink more cocktails than they serve at The Playboy Mansion (idk it seemed right), or maybe you weren't so extreme but still went farther than you meant to one night. It happened and it's done, move on. I don't believe in falling off the wagon. Every day is a new day and what you did yesterday, hell what you did an hour ago, doesn't have to dictate what you do next. Be nice to yourself and think about what you would say to a friend if she was sharing this with you, you probably wouldn't tell her she was an idiot right? Enjoy yourself and this time of year. Life is short and we only have so many moments.
What do you think about the holidays and guilt? Any tips?