by Corey Springer
NarkSide: December 2009
December’s here, and you know what that means: Parties, dinners, alcohol, cakes, and candies. Personally, I’ll be dieting hard straight up until January… but I’m pretty sure that ‘diet’ is the last word you want to hear at this time of year. I can’t say that I blame you either. Holidays are supposed to be fun-filled times spent with friends and family… not stressing over counting calories and the like. That being said, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself AND stay fit. All it takes is a little attention to detail. With this article I’m going to share 5 tricks that I personally use to stay in awesome shape even during the holidays.
Let’s get cracking!
1. Stay Active
A no-brainer right?
The empty gyms at this time of year argue otherwise. People simply don’t seem to want to work out when the holidays approach. However, everybody wants to look good in that outfit on new years eve… right? With exercise you can have your cake and eat it too. (I’m sorry… I REALLY wanted to throw that cliche in there lol)
Try to avoid skipping work-outs. Heck, make your time more efficient by planning all of your work-outs in advance. We all know how much time shopping takes up. So try to get your work-out in first each day. Put it last in the day and you run the risk of never making it to the gym.
It also helps to set a goal. Yes… even during the holiday season. Heck, it’s ESPECIALLY important at that time. Right now, I’ve set a goal of clean eating until Christmas at the very least. Think about what you want to achieve, and set a small goal to suit. It’ll go a LONG way in keeping you on track!
2. Watch your Alcohol intake.
I can hear you now: “C’mon Nark… Holidays are made for getting plastered”. I’ve got to admit, I like to get a couple beverages in during the holidays… but my aim is to avoid going overboard. Holiday drinks (like eggnog for example) tend to be loaded with sugar, and alcohol. Some (again, like eggnog) compound the already high amounts of sugar and alcohol, with high amounts of fat.
Remember my article “Cut Liquid Calories… Cut bodyfat“? Well liquid calories REALLY add up. Alcohol also tends to inhibit our impulse control, so while drinking we tend to snack even more than usual.
Try limiting the number of alcoholic beverages you consume at outings. Also, try alternating between an alcohol beverage and a non-caloric one (like a diet coke). This’ll save you a BUNDLE of calories over the course of a night.
3. Say no to gravy.
Gravy… tasty but evil. We tend not to think about it when we’re piling it on… but the calories here REALLY add up. Think about what goes into making it: fats, or fat drippings from meat… these are the primary components. A typical serving of gravy can add almost 400 calories to a meal. Bear in mind that 400 calories is the average calorie total of a full meal.
To compound this, we usually add another 400-700 calories from our actual meal… plus another 300-400 calories from holiday beverages. So we’re looking at 1000+ calories per sitting. That’s half of the average person’s daily requirements in ONE sitting. And you know that you’ll be repeating this feat a number of times per day during the holiday.
So… Do your waistline a favour.
Ditch the gravy!
4. Practice control
…Portion control that is.
Now… I understand that this may not be as easy at parties as it is in the comfort of your own home, but neither does it have to be overly complicated. The easiest trick is to start by filling half of your plate with veggies. That effectively cuts your calorie intake for that meal by almost half. Next, allot 1/4 of your plate to proteins… and the other 1/4 to carbs.
Try to avoid consuming high-glycemic carbohydrates (highly processed carbs like cakes and pastries) only. If you’re going to consume ’em… make sure that they don’t account for anymore than half of your allotted carb count for that meal.
5. One for the ladies: The ‘clutch trick’
Ok… This isn’t one that I use personally, as I’m not a female. But, as a people-watcher, I’ve seen it effectively put into practice. Basically the trick involves the type of purse (or bag) you take with you to parties. The suggestion? Ditch bags with straps. When you have a bag with a strap, the bag gets slung over one shoulder… leaving both of your hands free to grab snacks and drinks. I know most of you have been there (and I do mean guys as well): whereas you mindlessly eat as long as there’s stuff being served. It’s easy to pound 1500 calories in this manner. Quick fix? Tie one of those free hands up with a clutch purse. As you can only hold either one drink or one entree at any one time, your mindless binge is seriously curtailed. And hell, you don’t even have to think about it.
6. One for the guys: a vanity affair
Ok… we’re back on track. Here’s a tip that I use year-round! What is it? Fitted clothing! That’s right… fitted shirts, and jeans. Form-fitting clothing can be a serious deterrent to over-eating at holiday outings. I mean, who wants to have a gut hanging over their belt in the middle of schmoozing? I certainly don’t.
Well, that’s it… my 6 tips and tricks.
There are many other tricks that one could employ to avoid over-eating during the holidays. These 6 tips are some that I’ve found really effective however. There is no reason why one can’t enjoy the holidays without undermining all the hard work you’ve put in all year.
Get out there and enjoy yourselves people!