The holidays are upon us! Do damage control and get fit now to offset future holiday indulgences. Here are a few strategies to help you feel and look great and conquer cravings and overeating this season:
1. Move more – It’s been said that with even modest efforts you can reap substantial rewards. A little bit of movement can add up to a better body, a healthier body, and a better attitude to get you thru the holidays with a stronger resolve and grace. Short bouts of movement are associated with living a longer and better life. Movement is key to reduce cravings, reduce stress, sleep better and help you make better food choices especially during the holidays:
- Take a brisk walk – Aim for 30 minutes, 5 days a week
- Start small with 5 moves, 10 reps each:
Dips – on the edge of your tub or on a park bench. Keep shoulders away from your ears, hips close to edge, hug elbows together.
Squats – Stand wide, with knees over toes. Push hips back as you squat with chest lifted, abs in with weight into your heels. Really squeeze your butt at you stand up.
Push-Ups – try 5 and aim for 10. Modified on your knees is still great! Keep abs in.
Walking Lunges – keep both knees at 90-degree angles with weight into front heel.
Modified plank – hold a 30 sec. plank on your forearms, hug legs together and tuck tailbone slightly under with rib cage pull up to ceiling. Shoulders down, breathe deep as you hold to keep abs in and up.
2. Eat breakfast – Keep blood sugar balanced. Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower brain activity and more cravings. During the holidays it is especially important to start everyday with a nutritious breakfast to help stay away from those holiday cravings of simple sugars and refined carbs:
- Whole grain toast with old-fashioned peanut butter.
- Greek non-fat yogurt with blueberries and nuts
3. Manage stress – Chronic stress has been implicated in overeating. Holiday family gatherings can be very stressful for many…an opinionated aunt to an overbearing mother-in-law can put you over the edge. Here are easy ways to help you cope:
- Do deep breathing – inhale for 8 counts, hold your breath for 8 counts, then exhale slowly for 8 counts. Repeat as much as needed.
- Take a stretch break – Reach both arms overhead and stretch side to side.
4. Outsmart Triggers – Holidays are full of situational and environmental triggers for excess cravings and overeating. Think ahead and identify them such as shopping at the mall, airports or going to holiday parties:
- Bring healthy snacks with you such as almonds or apple slices.
- Eat a healthy meal before you go out.
5. Get adequate sleep – It is so easy to overdo and slack on sleep during the holidays but you need your rest. Science has shown the less sleep you get, the more cravings you’ll have and the more calories you’ll eat. Make sure to downshift before bed with a relaxation technique:
- Calm your mind with a simple meditation – “Take a nice slow inhale. As you exhale, relax your neck, shoulders, jaw and tongue. Close your eyes and relax the space between your eyes. Exhale and let go of tension.” Repeat as needed.
- Try to get 8 hours of sleep per night.
Move more. Live better. Happy Holidays.