Survive the holidays without guilt or gain

Published Thu, Nov 08, 2012 08:26 AM
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Pumpkin Pie is a favorite for Thanksgiving. Carrie says if you are strict now, you can eat desserts like this for the holidays. File photo

Submitted by Carrie Riggin — Columnist

The holiday countdown is officially on: 14 days to Thanksgiving, 47 days to Christmas. In the fitness world, this is the time when anxiety about the inevitable holiday weight gain sets in. It doesn’t have to be this way though. If you prep your mind and body now, the holidays won’t even affect you — or the scale.

Incorporate these lifestyle tips into your everyday routine starting today, and come Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’ll be able to indulge without the guilt or the bulge.

Be strict now, indulge later

Tighten up your diet and fitness regimen before the holidays so you don’t feel guilty indulging in your favorite holiday treats. Start today: Eat clean, incorporating lots of lean protein, like fish, chicken and pork; low-glycemic carbs, such as brown rice and sweet potatoes; and healthy fats, including nuts and Greek yogurt. Limit cruciferous veggies like broccoli that promote bloating, as well as dairy, which can be hard on the digestive process.

Drink lots of water. Take half your body weight and turn that number into ounces. That's a good starting point for your daily intake (for example, if you weigh 110 pounds, drink at least 55 ounces of water). Practice supplementation, taking your vitamins, fish oil, whey protein and anything else you use to fill your diet gaps. Increase your cardio in the morning (on an empty stomach) to promote additional fat loss, as well strength training, which increases metabolism even at rest. Last, but not least (and probably the hardest!), slash ALL sugar and alcohol until the holidays. This might be hard but it will be worth it. Keep thinking about that pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (in moderation, of course!).

Sip smart

Calories from alcohol and other fun, holiday concoctions can leave your jeans feeling a little tighter after the holidays. To prevent this, drink smart. Drink red wine, instead of white. Sip Bloody Marys with a low-sodium mix. Use mixers with little to no sugar (ahem, stay away from the punch bowl). And most importantly, do not — I repeat, do NOT — go near the oh-so-tempting holiday eggnog. To help counteract the extra liquid cals, try drinking ice-cold H20 as soon as you wake up and throughout the day. Not only does it keep you full, helping you decipher between real hunger and boredom, but it also boosts your metabolism by up to 24 percent if consumed first thing in the morning (amazing, huh?).

Plan ahead

If you know you are hitting the hottest holiday party in a couple days, start prepping a few days prior:

- Add 20 minutes to your daily exercise routine to not only make you look extra toned in your holiday dress, but to counteract the extra calories you might consume.

- Brainstorm veggie or fruit-based dishes you can bring so you’ll have something to nosh on, instead of the sugary and salty treats most likely to grace the party tables.

- On the day of, snack throughout the day, and consume a light salad before hitting the party scene. Snacking and having a light meal (preferably incorporating water-dense foods, like lettuce) before will stabilize blood-sugar levels and create a feeling of fullness so you won’t go googly-eyed when you see the delicious delicacies.

Eat water-dense, fiber-filled foods

Water-dense and fiber-filled foods will leave you feeling full on [most likely] fewer calories. The result: consuming much less than you normally would and maintaining the number on the scale. Stick to vegetables and fruits, like cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, berries, as well as whole grains with a high-fiber content, including whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes and black beans.

Name your blessings

Don’t just count them, name them; write them down; do whatever you have to do to not forget for one second how blessed you are. This is the season for giving thanks. Often we get so wrapped up in the number on the scale or the size of our jeans that we forget to be grateful for our many blessings: our careers, family, friends, significant others, personal and professional achievements, not to mention the fact that we are ALIVE and healthy. Forget what the scale says and remember that you are breathing, you have a roof over your head and healthy food to eat; not everyone is so lucky. And I’ll be the first to admit: I, too, need this reminder. I frequently have to step back and gain some perspective and then slap myself for ever being negative, self-loathing or self-destructive. I have so much to be thankful for and so do you. Naming your blessing, believe it or not, will help you stay balanced, positive, focused and confident that you can conquer the holiday food that will be before you.

Remember, this is not a time to lose, it’s a time to maintain. As long as you burn the amount of calories you take in, you’re golden! But if you do happen to pack on a few holiday pounds, it is not the end of the world. Enjoy the rest of the best time of year [the holidays], and jump right back on the bandwagon as soon as the season is over!

Cheers to a happier and healthier you during Thanksgiving and Christmas! You can do it.

Who is Carrie Riggin?
Carrie is the Triangle's go-to health and nutrition guru, sharing the latest trends to help you get in shape. She is a certified group fitness instructor and writes a blog, TheSkinnBuzz.

Twitter: @CarrieRigginFIT and @TheSkinnyBuzz

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