Holiday Stress Reducing Game Plan

Whether you are ready for it or not, there’s no denying the season is here. Retailers are pounding consumers with holiday advertising. And that means another less desirable season is upon us — extra pounds season — the time of year when a vast number of people pack on weight and inches.

Don’t be one of the statistics this year. Prepare now for the season of indulgence and avoid it sneaking up on you. Right now is the time to put a game plan in place. If you wait until the season is in full swing, it will be increasingly more challenging to make good choices. Being proactive is always more successful then reacting.

Take time today to create your game plan. It isn’t complicated nor is it time-consuming. Take 15 to 30 minutes today to develop your outline. You can break it into three critical parts: what you eat, how you move, and chaos reduction.

What you eat.

Just because you choose to be a mindful eater during the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. While the old saying “everything in moderation” may sound like a broken record, but it is absolutely accurate.

When faced with a buffet, three points can help keep you on track. First, choose a small plate which will automatically limit your quantity. Second, mentally divide your plate into four equal parts: one part should be filled with veggies, another with lean protein (like skinless turkey), a third part with fruits, and the final part with an indulgence (a cookie or brownie, etc). Third, don’t allow yourself more than one trip through the buffet line.

The temperatures are chilly, the seasonal music is playing in the background – the perfect setting for a cozy, hot drink. But beware of these comfort drinks. Many coffee drinks are overflowing with empty calories. Even if you choose only a small sized sweet concoction, you most likely will drink the equivalent amount of calories as is found in an entire healthy meal. Alternatively, try a coffee with almond milk, stevia sweetener, and a dash of cinnamon.

Spend 30 minutes one weekend cutting up vegetables for quick on-hand snacks. Choose your favorites from carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, snap peas, etc. Have them washed, cut, and placed in airtight containers. Keep some at home in the fridge and bring some to work with you. When the munchies come on, grab a container first before diving for the holiday cookies and snacks.

Start a new tradition: Healthy holiday recipe exchange. Instead of the traditional cookie exchange or sweet treat preparation party, challenge friends and family to makeover a favorite holiday recipe. These days it is rather easy to search the Internet to find a healthy alternative recipes for one of your favorite holiday treats. Have everyone share a sample of their healthy treat along with the full recipe.

How you move.

Most clubs and fitness professionals will confess that December often is the slowest time of year for new members. Yet joining a club, training with a trainer, or joining a new class during the holidays can be a major advantage in your fight against holiday bulge. Seriously consider this option. You may even find that paying for a membership is a major exercise motivator.

Exercise less. That’s not a typo. Who couldn’t use a little more free time to get their holiday to-do list completed? Decreasing your weekly exercise time can be beneficial at this time of year, with one caveat. You must increase the intensity. For example, if you run for one hour three times per week at a consistent, comfortable pace instead try decreasing to just 20-30 minutes but use an Interval Training technique. This technique requires that you push toward your maximum heart rate for short bursts throughout the entire workout along with periods of slower recovery. You will burn significant calories while also freeing up time for some of the holiday perks.

Trick your muscles. If you indulge a little during these holiday weeks, you’ll want ammunition to help fight against those extra calories. Breaking from your normal strength training routine can help confuse your muscles, which is a good thing. It can make your workouts more efficient. So change up your strength program with different exercises, different equipment, different weight sizes or all of the above.

Chaos reduction.

You do not have to be a seer to know that stress has a direct link to weight issues. Stress, of course, can lead to overeating. Also, stress alone has been linked to weight gain in some studies. How is this related to the holidays? Remember, that stress is your enemy in the weight gain battle so you must keep it in check.

Many find themselves with more obligations this time of year. Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. Cross items off your list that just aren’t a necessity for your holiday enjoyment. Ask for help from others. For example, get family involved with the cooking, enlist the help of your kids with present wrapping, etc.

Recharge your batteries. Amid the hectic schedule, make time to relax every day. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to do whatever is most relaxing to you. This could be a warm bath, uninterrupted reading time, meeting a friend for a quick coffee, going for a walk, or whatever lowers your stress.

Stop trying to achieve perfection. Remind yourself that those celebrity television chefs have an entire staff to help them. Magazine decorating photos are designed by teams of professionals. Most likely you don’t have those same groups at your disposal, so make sure your goals are realistic to your abilities and availability.

What do you do to keep the holidays stress free, fun and relaxing? Share your favorite tips!

Copyright 2013 Lynne Bode