Eating (Healthy) Through The Holidays

My name is Sheri, and I’m a career woman, wife and mother of two. Since the birth of my kids, I have struggled to maintain a comfortable, healthy and happy weight. I hit bottom last January and decided that I wasn’t going to keep buying larger clothes to compensate for my overeating. Historically, I would stick to my meal and exercise regiment for a few months and then fall off of the wagon around the holidays. So if you, or someone you know, has struggled in this area, this column may be for you.

“Happy holidays, happy holidays…” as the song goes, but for those who are trying to lose or at least maintain their weight it is easier sung than done.  Think about it, you work all spring and summer trying to be diligent. You work out a little bit, eat conservatively at bar-bques and summer parties, and for the most part you may do pretty good. I mean less face it, the summertime is when we all let it hang out. The short shorts and minis, the halter-tops and bikinis, but all too soon summer ends, fall goes by with a brisk breeze and before you know it, old man winter rears his ugly head.

This is the time of year, which can be more or less described as “hibernation season,” since all you really want to do is lie in a warm bed and snack throughout the day. When you wake up to get ready for work, if you work outside of your home, it’s dark and when you get off of work it’s dark. Naturally because of the colder temperatures, you dress warmer and as a result, you can cover up your snacking.  Instead of stuffing the turkey, you may have been slightly stuffing yourself.  It’s not surprising that most of us may have over-indulged and put on a pound or two, maybe three, from Thanksgiving. No biggie. You need the extra fat to fight off the cold right?

Then it happens the mother of all holidays comes, Christmas. You have Christmas cookies, sweet potato pie, cheese cake, pound cake, brownies, red velvet cake and that is just the sweets! And we know that there’s no better way to work up an appetite than opening presents. So of course, we eat a lot of foods that are filled with carbs; cornbread, dressing, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and greens.

And you know that your mother taught you not to waste food. So after the main dinner is complete, we eat the leftovers for a couple more days just in time to recuperate for the New Year.  Then we cook and celebrate all over again—making resolutions to lose all the weight that we put on and then some…But hell that’s the holidays!

It can be a diet nightmare and a scale roller coaster. Suffering from these obstacles myself, it is easy to yo-yo and fall back into the overeating trap. Life can be stressful enough without the food drama. Especially if one is trying to juggle a career and family—but we have to be proactive instead of reactive.

Our plan of attack? We will come up with new goals to keep motivated, whether that is a workout schedule or pushing away the extra holiday helpings.

A few tips to consider:

-Keep hydrated

-Sip drinks that are low in calories and sugar

-Eat healthy snacks such as almonds, pretzels, granola bars, yogurt or fruit throughout the day. These foods are low in fat, high in fiber, protein and best of all, satisfying. The combination can help minimize hefty portions at lunch and dinner.

-Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, take the stairs. If you have a job where you must sit quite a bit, try getting away from the chair every hour and taking a trip around the building, to the mail box or simply the copy machine across the office to stretch your legs.

-Try to incorporate as much cardio in your day as possible.

And if nothing else after you have enjoyed your holiday meal, or any meal for that matter, DON’T GO TO SLEEP! No napping, snoozing or nodding off. Just say no!

These extra steps can help keep us aware of our goals and may be the difference between getting into our jeans with ease or uncomfortably doing the happy dance and then conjuring up a plan to button them.

Until 2010…Good luck!

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