Celebration, relaxation, and tasty, edible office gifts. The downfalls during the holiday season are not new to anyone.
(Wouldn't it be nice, by the way, if someone brought dumbbells as gifts to office colleagues instead of food? Of course, this might offend, as it may indicate that you feel your co-workers are out of shape. Food that is highly caloric, however, is still acceptable. What gives?)
Fortunately, you don't have to fall into the holiday trap. To counter weight gain during the holidays, here are seven simple strategies that you can implement today -- strategies that many skinny and in-shape clients have successfully implemented:
1) When It Comes to Dining Out, Be a Kid Again
Going out to restaurants for celebration at holiday time is a challenge. The portions are large, and alcohol is served freely. When you make decisions regarding which place to choose, try to be involved and choose a place that is family-friendly -- even if you don't have your family with you. This is because many family-friendly restaurants have kid-size meals. Yes, order them. Save on calories, and save your figure for the next swimsuit season.
2) Drink Smart
Drink it up! No, not your favorite alcoholic beverage. Rather, drink your water. This holiday season, make a point of drinking two glasses of water before each meal. Hydrating your cells help you to flush your system. Also, the alcohol you do drink will dehydrate you; you will need fluids that hydrate your skin to prevent wrinkles, which makes you look older. But the real benefit is that you will be able to eat less as your hunger pangs subside when you drink water beforehand.
3) Stressed? Choose Pampering Over Pigging Out
Brave the shops and restaurants over the holiday season, and you will notice stressed-out and unfriendly customers. Shouldn't be the holiday season the best season of the year? Additional tasks and to do's pushes many over the edge -- and to ease this stress, they may choose to overindulge at the holiday table. So relax, take a breath, and draw yourself a hot bath. Create your own bath tub therapy by adding on rosemary, thyme, peppermint tea or green tea to your bath. Voila, your home becomes your spa. The point here is that relaxed individuals do not need additional food to manage stress. Managing your stress will help you to stay in control with your eating and not to go on a carb rampage.
4) Keep You Own Naughty and Nice List
Write down what you eat. Sure, it may not be a new strategy, but I bet you have not tried it yet. The best and most successful weight loss programs incorporate a mandatory food log. The individuals who follow this strategy religiously are the individuals who are in control with their food intake and stay within their allowed weight and body fat ranges. In short, keep a journal and ask yourself after each entry: Is this the most beneficial food for my body and my weight loss or weight maintenance program?
5) Tap Your Competitive Spirit
Sometimes we all need that extra push or kick in the butt when it comes to getting into shape. A healthy competition among like-minded individuals -- with a prize for the winner -- may be a great incentive to stay on track. And yes, why not opt for a weight loss competition around the holidays, when everyone else seems to go on a weight gain competition instead? You might be surprised who else might join you when you announce this challenge to your friends, colleagues or family members.
6) Skip the Sugar and Spice It Up
Sugar cravings can be a pain -- especially during the holidays, when there are sugary snacks all around you. So what can you do to avoid the sugar cravings? One option may be to substitute spice for sugar whenever possible. For example, try adding cinnamon instead to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. The active ingredient, methylhydroxychalcone polymer, seems to mimic insulin function, increasing blood sugar uptake by cells. In short, cinnamon reduced not only blood sugar, but also triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) in people with type 2 diabetes as a study found that was published in the journal Diabetic Care. And it gets better. How about blood pressure? Stress can raise blood pressure, which can be an issue with individuals with cardiovascular diseases. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggested that in addition to glucose metabolism, cinnamon may have a role in glucose metabolism and blood pressure regulation. In other words, adding cinnamon to the diet may have a positive influence on blood pressure.
7) Find Time for Exercise
Did you think I wasn't going to mention exercise? There's no escape from this one. Sure, you might have not as much time because of shopping, family... you name it. So work with what time you have! If you really do have little time, then use the 15-60 approach. How does this approach work? Take one strength exercise and repeat it 15 times. Immediately change over to a 60-second cardiovascular set, which can be as simple as running in place, running the stairs or jumping rope. Choose the level of intensity that feels comfortable to you. Then repeat the same thing with another strength exercise without any rest. Use one strength exercise for each of the large and small muscle groups.
Weight loss strategies are simple to implement during the holidays. A little focus and a little willpower will get you there. Don't be one of the people who just get fried by too much information and who know all the information but do nothing with it. Just pick one of the strategies above, and you will be on your way to a leaner, stronger and slimmer body.
Stefan Aschan is a leading expert on lifestyle, health and fitness who has helped more than 30,000 people get fit through advice on nutrition, fitness and lifestyle changes. For your free "Updates and Solution" newsletter and e-report on "How to have 10 times more success losing weight, staying on top of your goals, and accomplishing the change of body shape and appearance," visit www.theaustrianadvantage.com.