Staying Lean During The Holiday Season


While it’s tough to predict whether it’s going to be a white Christmas, one thing’s for sure –  there’s a good chance you’re going to indulge.

From festive parties laden with those irresistible canapés and tasty cocktails jam-packed with calories to chocolates, shortbread cookies, stuffing –  the list goes on and on, making it extremely difficult for those watching their waistlines to stay on track.

Yes, we’ll admit that it’s no easy feat to steer clear of sweets and savoury goodies – nor should you have to avoid them altogether

Here are 4 easy ways to staying lean during the holiday season.

  1.  Keep Stress Levels Down

Let’s face it –  the holiday season can cause a lot of stress. From financial pressure to fighting for a parking spot at busy shopping malls to visiting with family members one might not see on a normal basis, it’s not uncommon to feel on edge this time of year.

Most people admit that when they’re under stress, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. All-too-often, we reach for a quick fix from the fridge or cupboard to feel better. Unfortunately, that quick fix only leads to even more stress –  do you really want to add weight gain, bloating and indigestion to your stress load?

Cortisol, a critical hormone responsible for maintaining your blood pressure as well as the provision of energy from food to your body, tends to stimulate blood sugar levels at times of high-stress. This spike makes it even more difficult to resist those sugar cookies in the lunchroom or that second glass of wine at your company holiday party.

While stress is unavoidable this time of year,  the good news is it can be kept in check.  Some ways to keep slim and of sound mind include: learning to say no – otherwise you run the risk of stretching yourself to thin while your waistline expands, avoid the holiday madness by shopping during off hours, don’t leave party prep or shopping to the last minute and most importantly remember to breathe. Deep breathing  is one of the most effective ways to lower stress in the body.

  1. Winterize Your Workout

Baby it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you should become a couch potato. If running in the Vancouver rain or snow isn’t for you, head to your local recreation centre or gym and start earning that second helping of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Alternatively,  you could also channel your inner Jane Fonda by popping in a workout video. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of popular home-based fitness programs and videos like Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Insanity or P90X – just to name a few.

  1. Smart Drinking

Feeling humbug about having to refrain from alcohol at your holiday party? Relax, there’s no reason to go cold turkey. There’s nothing wrong with having a glass or two, but that’s not always easy when you’re mixing and mingling at any festive fete.

As the conversation flows, so do the drinks. If you’re not careful, you’ll fall off track and have an even tough time steering clear of party fare.  Going in to any party or social gathering with a game plan is going to save your derriere – quite literally!

First off, decide on your limit and how you’re going to stick with it. Some simple ways to slow down your intake can include, having a full glass of water or non-alcoholic beverage between drinks,  making sure you eat a full meal before drinking  and topping off your wine or cocktail with sparkling water.

Speaking of mixes, avoid soda pop or anything creamy like liqueurs or eggnog. Instead, option for a white wine spritzer or sherry for a lower-calorie beverage.

  1. Smart Snacking

With cookies, candy and savoury goodies everywhere, it can be tough to eat healthy during the holidays. Whether it’s your office lunchroom or visiting relatives, tasty holiday temptations lurk at every corner.

Now, before you shovel that Nanaimo bar down your gullet, hit the brakes.  While that one or two pound weigh-gain may seem harmless, it can really add up over a lifetime.  Perhaps instead of inhaling the whole square, you can break it in half – bam, that’s half the fat and half the calories right there. Instead, head on over to the fruits and vegetable platters. There, you can eat until your heart and stomach’s content and fill up on fibre.

Also, forget skipping meals to scrimp on calories. That plan is only going to backfire on you.  Before heading to your party, eat a light snack that’s packed with lean protein like yogurt or a handful of almonds. This way you’ll be less tempted to over-indulge. And if you’re worried there will be no healthy fare to fill up on, bring your own waist-line friendly dish to the gathering.

If you’re thinking about going on a crash diet during the holiday season and become a Scrooge when it comes to calories, you might want to think twice. Rather than focus on slimming down, concentrate on staying just as you are. There’s plenty of time come January to jump on the weight-loss bandwagon. This way you can enjoy yourself –  just not too much  –  and avoid feeling deprived.  If you’re going to enjoy some cocktails at a party one evening, stick to water the next. Yes, enjoy that figgy pudding, but make sure to hit the gym a little harder the next day.  With these four tips in mind, you’ll stay lean while enjoying all the fun and festivities the holiday season has to offer.

Kristyl Clark