In just a few months you've boosted micronutrient levels, decreased your weight and toned your muscles. You look amazing and feel amazing.
What's your secret? It's simple, really: you're eating more veggies and moving more.
How did you get started? You began by initiating small improvements in health + wellness, like eating whole plant foods instead of processed foods, walking instead of Ubering, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
How do you maintain this lifestyle? After a few weeks of repetition these healthy behaviors became integrated into your daily routine. Looking better and feeling better reinforced these healthy habits. Proper nutrition and physical activity became muscle memory, just like brushing your teeth, locking the front door or wearing a seatbelt. #Effortless. Conditioned behaviors are performed without conscious effort and are the key to sustainable health + wellness.
Conditioned behaviors are performed without conscious effort and are the key to sustainable health + wellness.
And then, November and December strike. After successfully integrating healthy eating and movement into your daily routine, the holiday party threatens to unravel your progress. Of course, as popular and successful as you are, you don't have just one holiday party to attend; you must survive navigating the office Thanksgiving potluck, trimming the tree with your obese in-laws, getting spun at Moshe's dreidel rager, egg nogging at the Christmas gala and attending countless other holiday engagements. Do the math: you have many holiday parties, but only one mouth. Should I call the bariatric surgeon or do you have a plan?
You're about to knock on the host's door, but panic makes you pause: for the next four hours you will be a captive attendee. A whirlpool of holiday party anxiety engulfs you. What will your host serve? What's actually in that casserole? Are those sprouted whole grains? Labored breathing ensues and you reach for your purse. Tranquila, mami. Put down the Xanax; let's calm your anxiety with a proactive strategy for holiday parties.
Before, During & After the Holiday Party
A proactive holiday approach protects your progress of 2016 and facilitates your success in 2017. With proper strategy before, during and after the holiday party, you can enjoy the festivities while maintaining control of your waistline.
Eat before you arrive. Have a healthy breakfast and lunch so you don't arrive starving, ready to pounce on any calories within reach. If your host is known to provide particularly unhealthy options, consider eating a full meal beforehand so you aren't forced to eat among the unhealthy offerings.
Exercise. Don't skip out on exercise the day of the holiday party. Plan ahead; ensure ample time to go to the gym or go for a run before the party.
Prepare a healthy dish. You may not have have control over what your host will serve, but you do have control over what you contribute. Skip the pie or cake; contribute a vegetable or fruit based dish instead. This guarantees at least one dish for your consumption and the other guests will certainly appreciate a healthy refuge among the holiday buffet.
Small plate, small fork. This is an easy and effective strategy! Stick with a salad plate and fork. Decreasing the size of your plate and utensil will significantly decrease the amount you eat. When you eat very quickly--facilitated by large portions on large plates shoveled in with large utensils--you outpace your body's satiety feedback loop (mediated by stomach distention and gut hormones). Small plates and forks lead to small waists. Magic.
Pile on the veggies. Now, what to put on your small plate? Make your first plate vegetables. Yes, all vegetables. Create a rainbow array of produce to consume a diversity of micronutrients. In general, raw veggies are more filling than cooked veggies: raw veggies take more time to chew and more time to digest, which translates to greater satiety (a la satiety feedback loop). Filling up early on veggies is a great strategy to decrease consuming calorically-dense foods like cheeses, meats and desserts.
Choose wisely at the buffet. The first items placed on your plate will constitute the majority of what you eat, so choose wisely! Focus on enjoying holiday-specific foods rather than gobbling down food items that are present year-round. Don't feel obligated to try everything; either have a small taste to satisfy your host or politely decline by remarking how full you are from enjoying one of the other dishes.
Hydrate with water and limit alcohol. Don't squander calories on sugary beverages; drink water instead. Alcoholic beverages can be packed sugar, so minimize superfluous calories by using zero calorie mixers or having clear alcohol on the rocks. To cut down further, interspace dranks with non-alcoholic beverages. No one can tell the difference between a vodka soda and soda water with lime. Hydrating with water throughout the evening will also decrease your risk of needing a hangover drip in the morning.
Move. Get up and move! Resist the inertia of the holiday food coma. How about a stroll around the block? Rather than take a cab home, could you walk? Could you walk even part of the way? Take the stairs instead of the elevator, what do you say? Movement is essential to digesting food and burning calories.
Food is a symbol of love, a tool for connection, a reason for gathering. The holidays historically featured increased consumption given the relative dearth of consumables throughout the year. However, abundance has now superseded scarcity. Your mouth can engulf unlimited quantities of calories without fear of famine year-round. Despite the modern omnipresence of food and drink, people consume over the holidays as if starvation were a legitimate possibility.
Use this holiday season as an opportunity to practice grace: take smaller bites, chew with leisure, appreciate textures, savor tastes and enjoy conversations. Your waist will be grateful too.
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