It’s that time of year again, holiday season! As a triathlete, holiday season also means, “off-season”. Since I am not spending as much time training and not racing, I have more time to relax and spend time with friends and family. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year. When I was younger; the anticipation of receiving gifts I most looked forward to, but now I have the most joy in giving gifts. I especially like to spoil my nieces (as an Aunt, I am allowed!)
Often big family get-togethers equal lots of great food; from the Thanksgiving turkey to the Christmas eggnog. Many people are worried about gaining weight during the holiday season, but I feel one can still enjoy the holiday goodies without the jeans becoming too tight around the hips.
Eating healthy is a lifestyle and that does not change for me during the offseason (or holiday season). This does not meat skipping out on Thanksgiving pie or holiday fudge. It is all about moderation and portion control. Some guides I follow when heading to a family gathering or holiday party:
1) Never arrive to a party famished…this is a sure way to eat too much “holiday” food which may be calorie dense food; high in fat and sugar. If you have a busy day of shopping or work before the party, be prepared to fuel your body correctly throughout the day. I always pack Pure Bars when I am on the go. The bars provide me with combination or protein/carbs/fat that will keep my blood sugar in check.
2) If you are not sure there if there will be a healthy option at the party, bring one! I always like to bring a healthy salad or veggies; knowing that I can fill up on healthy veggies in addition to a chocolate treat while at the party.
3) When it is time for a meal, most parties have a display of yummy food. Sometimes my eyes are larger than my stomach, so when dishing myself a plate I think about portion control and moderation. Those yummy sweet potatoes with brown sugar are not off my plate, but I am sure to not overflow my plate with them. With small portions, I get to taste many delicious options, but I don’t feel stuffed to the brim after eating my meal.
4) Eat slowly….it takes 20 min for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full. If you eat too much too fast, it is not a fun feeling. Relax and socialize with friends and family while enjoying your food. Plus, the food tastes so much better when you slow down and enjoy each bite.
5) When it comes to dessert, keep in mind that some desserts are more nutritious than others. For example, that pumpkin pie is a bit easier on the waistline than pecan. Fruit is always a good option as well as dark chocolate. If you are aware of desserts that are more nutritious for you, it will be easier to make healthier options. Of course, the dark chocolate brownie with the works is okay every once in a while….again in moderation!
6) Finally, during the winter months, it is cold outside and many people choose to become less active than the warmer months. Find a winter sport you enjoy (like cross country skiing or snowshoeing). I still enjoy running outside in the winter, but the correct gear is a must! Make sure to be prepared and bundle in the correct kind of clothing. If you don’t like being out in the cold, join a gym. Most gyms have specials around the holiday season. When I am traveling to visit family in Minneapolis and Missouri, the Lifetime Fitness Clubs become a second home for me. Open 24 hours a day; I know I can always count on getting my workout in and refueling after with a café inside. Life café’s not just any café, this shop knows what your body needs after a workout and serves healthy food, including Pure Bars (my favorite!).
This holiday season enjoy the time with friends and family. Embrace the delicious holiday foods. Be empowered with the knowledge of a healthy and active lifestyle every day during the season and when January 2nd roles around you won’t have to worry about shopping for a larger jean size! Happy Holidays~~