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How to Survive the Holidays: 5 Tips to Stay in Shape This Holiday Season

Did you know that the average North American gains five pounds between November and December? It’s a season filled with celebration, and much of that celebrating comes along with a hearty dose of alcohol and indulgent foods. So how do you manage this time of year without becoming another five pound statistic?

TIP #1: Eat before you party! Wether you’re going to a dinner, cocktail party, or late night drink-a-thon, it’s always a good idea to fill up on healthful foods from your own refrigerator before heading out. Ensuring that you consume nutrient dense foods ahead of time will help stop you from scarfing down too many bite-sized brownies, cookies, and canapés. This way, you can think of your party as dessert instead of the main meal and choose one or two treats to really savour.

TIP #2: Pick your battles (and I don’t mean over which sparkly stilettos to wear). There are work events, family events, and times spent with friends. In other words, one party after another. If every single one turns into a binge fest, your fitness goals are out the window for sure. So think ahead about which you love more: your Momma’s apple pie or the chocolate bon bons Grandma brings every year? Choose a single serving of ONE treat instead of both.

TIP #3: Mindfully indulge. This is really an extension of tip number two. Consider this tip your permission to mindfully indulge. Denying yourself every craving over the holidays can lead to willpower fatigue. You know what I mean: after diligently refusing every hot cocoa and candy cane sent your way for weeks, it’s when you snap and consume every last cookie in sight. As much as the holidays are times of celebration, so too can they be filled with stress. Given the circumstances, do yourself a favour and choose that slice of apple pie or piece of chocolate and then let yourself enjoy it. Set yourself up for success by avoiding the pitfalls of emotional eating.

TIP #4: Guard your workouts. This is the time of year when people can end up throwing their hard earned progress out the window. Schedules become hectic and the first thing to get cut is time for working out. But this is when you need your workouts more than ever! Not only will your training help combat the additional calorie consumption of the season, but so too will it help battle the stress of the holidays. Exercising releases endorphins, neurochemicals that are considered natural pain killers and are known for generating feelings of well being after a workout.

TIP #5: Healthify your holiday recipes. I know, I know, you might cringe at modifying Aunt so-and-so’s famous mashed potatoes, but consider your waistline. One tablespoon of butter alone has 15 grams of fat. Multiply that for all the times you add a dollop to the potatoes, and the peas, and the green beans… you get the idea. Before donning your holiday apron, read through your recipes and look for opportunities to make healthier swaps. Can you reduce the amount of butter or oil called for? Try using milk to lighten your mashed potatoes, or better yet, roast a variety of veggies instead of mashing those potatoes! Add vegetables to bulk up your stuffing while reducing the amount of bread, and omit any added meats (like sausage). Use fresh herbs to enhance the flavours of your dishes. For your holiday baking, explore swaps such as nut-based flours or sugar alternatives to help increase nutrients and decrease that insulin spike. The internet, along with sites like Pinterest offer a wealth of creative healthy cooking ideas. So get googling first, cooking second!

Perhaps most importantly, believe in yourself and stay the course! Even if you slip up once or twice, every party is a chance to get back on track and stick to your goals. If you plan for success in December, those New Years resolutions will already be taken care of.

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