The holiday season is upon us. Your schedule is filled with shopping, work deadlines, holiday parties, relatives and obligations. Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to avoid holiday weight gain and stay healthy, happy and fit.
WATER Drink a glass of water upon waking; it's not only important for hydration after a long night but it also cuts daily food intake by 13 percent. Add lemon juice to the water to nourish liver function increasing your body's ability to cleanse itself of toxins which can aid in weight loss.
Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. When you're hydrated your body will no longer retain water which makes you look puffy. Add some unprocessed Celtic sea salt to your water for added minerals and to replenish electrolytes in your system.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, boost your mood, and burn up extra calories. Rev up your metabolism with 30 to 45 minutes of circuit strength training incorporating 5-6 sets of multi-joint, big-bang exercises such as push-ups, dead lifts, lunges, step ups, swing throughs and chin-ups performed with minimal rest between sets. Research suggests that exercise, specifically weight training, increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates the release of growth hormone, a powerful fat burner. Invest in some exercise equipment for your home such as Power Blocks, a Stability Ball, Kettlebell and a TRX Suspension Trainer. Go for a walk with your dog, hike with friends or practice yoga.
ON THE GO Avoid becoming famished when you're away from home. Pack healthy snacks in your purse or glove compartment. Some good suggestions include protein bars, raw nuts and seeds or an apple.
BREAKFAST It might be tempting to reserve calories for an impending party, however skipping breakfast is a sure backfire to weight gain. Consume a well-balanced breakfast with protein, fibrous carbohydrates and healthy fats. This will provide you with a feeling of fullness and you'll eat less later in the day. Protein and fat help balance your energy and prevent low blood sugar. The first 40 grams of protein you eat every day goes to rebuild your immune system. If you are not rebuilding your immune system, you'll have a hard time rebuilding your brain chemistry to be happy and think straight. And you will definitely not be able to build muscle. Try a buffalo burger with salsa, a handful of nuts and a side of blueberries or eggs with spinach and avocado. Or, one of my quick, energizing on-the-go breakfast favorites is juicing kale, parsley, cucumber, green apple, ginger and lime, adding protein powder and fish oil for balance.
MIDMORNING BUZZ Pass on the white chocolate peppermint mocha with whip cream which is full of artificial sweeteners, sugars and a whopping 700 calories! Instead, opt for drip coffee. Add a bit of heavy cream and cinnamon for holiday flavor and to help stabilize the insulin spike you might experience from the coffee. Enjoy some green tea to increase mental alertness and energy. Research suggests the ECGC in green tea can boost fat burning.
LUNCH Fill up on protein and fiber with a large, dark green salad with chicken breast or wild salmon, using lemon, olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette as dressing.
Avoid starchy carbs, sugary snacks and sodas which provide you with a quick burst of energy, spike insulin, and end up depleting you of energy. Instead, focus on fat- and protein-based foods to . An ideal afternoon snack is a protein smoothie with coconut milk, avocado with some Mary's Gone Crackers, celery with almond butter or hummus with chopped red bell pepper.
Before the party, snack on a handful of almonds and sip a cup of green tea. The fat and fiber from the almonds will reduce your appetite. The caffeine from the green tea will help keep you energized and increase mental alertness. Once you're at the party, graze on veggies and guacamole, shrimp with cocktail sauce, chicken skewers or nuts. For something sweet, save it for after a balanced meal and opt for some dark chocolate or strawberries dipped in chocolate versus pies or cakes, which are full of unknown ingredients. If you want to indulge in a treat, take a small portion and enjoy every bite. Practice portion control!
Limit alcohol intake. Remember, calories from booze tend to be stored in the abdomen a.k.a. muffin top or love handles. Alcohol is a toxin to the body. It's metabolized before food in order to rid it from the body. If you're going to indulge in alcohol, opt for a glass of red wine or cocktails made from fresh ingredients. Beware of eggnog, white Russians or mudslide mixes which are full or sugar and contain up to 500-800 calories per drink. Dance at the party to burn some extra calories. Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage, which will accomplish the social goal of having a glass in your hand, but cuts down on the calories, the boozing and the hangover!
Moderation is the key. Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday!.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at www.PaulaOwens.com.