It’s officially the holiday season (yay!), which means festive soirees, gift wrapping, and…sweet treats that just keep on coming.
And every year, although we swear we won’t do it again, it’s hard to avoid trying a bite of every glittery cookie, which leads to gaining extra pounds we then resolve to lose come New Year’s.
This year, we’re ready to break that same-old cycle (without sacrificing even a moment of joy).
Here are a few smart, simple ways to avoid holiday weight gain that don’t include swearing off every piece of pecan pie or avoiding eggnog for the entire season. The best part? Staying lean and healthy will allow you to feel great amid all of the hustle and bustle, so you can soak up even more of the season’s happy vibes.
- Schedule your workouts in advance. You want your exercise routine to stay as consistent as possible. Hold yourself accountable by signing up for classes or adding your workouts to your calendar in advance. You might even want to treat yourself to some extra classes, since it’s easier to drag yourself out of bed for an early morning sweat session knowing you’ll avoid a cancellation fee and can spend your hard-earned dollars on killer gifts, instead. Bonus: The endorphin rush after class will help keep the stress of the season at bay, and you can refuel with a post workout smoothie.
- Stay super focused on eating your veggies. Yes, we’re saying it again. If your belly is full of veggies, after all, there will be less room for multiple servings of mashed potatoes. Make sure to eat greens and other winter veggies at every meal. Throw sauteed broccoli rabe and red peppers into scrambled eggs for breakfast, wilt kale and swiss chard into a white bean soup to bring with you for lunch, and lay your salmon filet over a bed of sauteed broccoli rabe as an easy go-to dinner. Stuck with only the options available at a holiday party? Station yourself near the crudite platter and fill up. The nutrients in veggies are important for a strong immune system, and the high water and fiber content will keep you full.
- Indulge when you actually want to. As you’re unwrapping yet another candy cane, think, “Do I really want this?” Eating mindlessly as you hop from glam parties to office cookie swaps won’t actually ever satisfy your sweet tooth. If it’s not a dessert that makes your mouth water, skip it. Save that indulgence for your Grandma’s pumpkin pie you wait for all year long, and while you eat it, savor every last bite.
- Drink smart. Champagne is going to be flowing like crazy, so choose a night or two a week to treat yourself to a drink (or two!). Have a holiday party coming up? Save your alcoholic beverages for those nights and skip the glass of wine at your after-work sushi dinner. On the nights you do drink, start with a glass of water or seltzer with a lemon or lime and drink another in between every martini or glass of wine. Staying hydrated will keep you from overdoing it and will help prevent a hangover.
- Prioritize shut-eye. If you don’t get enough sleep regularly, the constant go-go feeling of the holiday season will make your stress level spike, which raises cortisol in the body and leads to weight gain. Plus, you’ll be more likely to overeat as a result of fatigue. Set a bedtime you want to stick to on weeknights and try to honor it unless you have a special occasion.
After all, you’re trying to stay lean and healthy, but you also don’t want to end up spending the season acting like The Grinch.