Every Christmas season do you promise myself you won't fall off healthy eating and fail? How can you not? With Thanksgiving dinner (for us Americans), holiday parties, Christmas feasts and then holiday vacations, it's enough to make me want to throw my hands up and declare, "I give up!" Which is exactly what I did this year and didn't gain an ounce.
Those who follow me on a regular basis know I'm working hard on getting back to a healthier weight. But I've been very careful to declare that I'm dieting. Boy that word drives me crazy! Instead, I'm reprogramming myself to naturally make healthier eating choices on a daily basis.
1. Balance Your Calories Day to Day
This holiday season, I decided I wasn't going to deny myself; instead, I would eat in moderation. Easier said than done, right? If I had an off day and indulged, the next day I was more conservative with what I consumed. So what if I had that chocolate cupcake (or another one the next day). I didn't feel denied, which kept me from wanting even more and then overeating when I did.
2. Keep Smart Snacks on Hand
Even though it was the holidays, I was careful about letting extra junk food take over our pantry. We stocked up on snacks I knew I would like and wouldn't consider all that bad. Also, knowing smart choices were just as easy to get to made it simpler for me. Instead of grabbing a bagel, I grabbed some pretzel sticks and put them in a small cup to manage the portion. Maybe not as satisfying in the moment, but more satisfying for the day.
We also went on vacation to Florida, and I made sure we had healthy snacks with us, too. I packed Nature Valley granola bars for the plane ride so we wouldn't be tempted to buy junk at the airport. We went to the grocery store our very first day there to stock up the fridge with fruits. Not everyone who goes on vacation has a house they can stay in, but buying fruit such as apples and bananas and easy-to-carry granola bars every couple is a terrific way to snack and stay away from high-calorie choices during the day.
3. Cook Dinner
Holiday time can really kill the time you have to cook. You're often out and about getting ready for Christmas or just haven't had time to go to the grocery store. And there's that vacation thing again, where it's tempting to eat out every night. Plus, if you're staying at a hotel and do need to eat out, you think why not indulge? You don't want to order the fish!
Instead of getting fancy with dinners, I kept to the basics that I knew would be easy to make and a hit with my boys. Cooking wasn't exactly the first thing I wanted to do on vacation, either. But then I thought of the alternatives and put together a menu. And on the few nights we did eat out, I ordered a fish dish. Granted, it came with french fries but a smarter choice than a burger and fries.
4. Lay Off the Alcohol
Oh boy. This one is a biggy! It is so easy to drink a couple of glasses of wine at gatherings. And when you're on a warm beach vacation, forget about it! Those homemade margaritas from fresh limes and frozen piña coladas have my name written all over them. This year, I chose a couple of nights to have a drink or two and that was it. Easier than it sounds, right? Wrong! I psyched myself out of drinking by telling myself that, while a glass of wine would be lovely, a full night of sleep would be even better.
That's right. Alcohol does affect your sleep. And when you're dealing with two hyped-up boys crazed on Christmas and then vacation who wake you up well before 6am, your sleep goes way down. Can you imagine being tired from the moment you get up and then running after the kids all day long. I just looked at those glasses of alcohol and could see my sleep slipping away. In the end, getting a good night's rest won.
5. Mindful Eating
I am the worst emotional eater. There's no reason to pretend I'm not. The difference is this holiday season when I felt myself getting stressed and wanting to eat without actually being hungry, I asked myself why I wanted a snack. Sometimes I was able to walk away telling myself I didn't actually want to eat. Other times I made healthier choices, like grabbing a low-fat mozzarella cheese stick or a handful of peanuts. And sometimes I just plain gave in to the sweets and didn't beat myself up about it.
6. Finding Balance
At the end of the day, finding a balance with my eating habits meant I didn't gain a single ounce over the holidays and vacation. Granted, I didn't lose any weight, but that actually wasn't my goal this season. I wanted to be able to enjoy the holidays without feeling deprived.
Now that January and the new year are here, I'm back on the trail and looking forward to a healthier me.
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