Avoiding holiday weight gain

The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate the good and reflect on the challenges of the year gone by. For whatever reason, with celebration comes food, and if you’ve been working hard at eating healthy, losing weight, or maintaining your weight, this may be a difficult time that lies ahead with all the festive goodies glaring at you around every corner.

December should be a time of fun and relaxation, a time to rejuvenate our body and mind for the New Year that lies ahead, but it doesn’t mean that we can eat whatever we feel like and put on all the weight we lost before the holidays.

So how do we avoid over-eating and sabotaging all our hard work?

Let’s look at a few holiday tips

Watch your alcohol intake

Relaxing next to the pool with a drink in hand is a huge part of most people’s holiday routine.  But having alcoholic beverages which are high in calories during the holiday can add to that extra unwanted body fat.
Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories, meaning they have no nutritional value.

During the holidays try:
•  Start with a calorie-free, non-alcoholic beverage. Satisfy your thirst before having an alcoholic beverage.
• Don’t consume alcoholic beverages everyday – plan when you are going to enjoy a drink.
• When having a drink – go for low calories drinks such as red wine, vodka & soda water, whiskey and water.
• Try and stay away from very high sugary drinks such as cocktails. BUT, drinking too much of any alcoholic beverage is unhealthy regardless.
• With every alcoholic drink you have, you should have at least 750ml of water.


Do not skip meals

During holidays our daily routines are completely different to our normal routine, we go to bed late, get up much later and aren’t really home to prepare meals. This makes skipping breakfast or meals so much easier.
Skipping meals might be the biggest mistake you can make during the holiday season as your body is use to eating regularly. Your body will be triggered into “’starvation” mode and store your holiday foods in unwanted places if you don’t keep it in check.  Stock up on the following so that you always have something to snack on:
• Biltong and nuts
• Fruits like an apple or some pineapple – this is so refreshing in the December heat
• Ready to drink USN protein shake or protein bars.
• Low fat yogurt

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What to eat when going to a party

One of the biggest mistakes you can make before heading to a party is to skip a meal or arrive hungry. By eating a light, healthy snack before leaving home, you can set yourself up to make better choices. Try a low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, or some biltong and nuts.
At the party there will be very unhealthy type snacks and it is going to test your discipline, trust me. So you are going to have to stay strong.
• If you, by some miracle find yourself seated next to the food table, don’t see it as a sign to dig into the chips and dip like a back-actor all night long. So stay far, far away. You won’t eat mindlessly if you have to cross the room to get to the food.
• Try choosing the healthier option snacks like biltong, nuts, fruit etc.  or offer to bring the snacks, then you have the control to bring healthy ones
• For the main course you want to have a good protein like steak and chicken and have a green salad or some veggies with it. If there is nothing healthy to choose from to have with your meat, then have a very small portion of what is available.
• Try and stay away from all the high GI carbohydrate mayonnaise type salads.
• And for desert..watch your portion control, only choose 1 desert and don’t have all 4 desert options. If you are looking to control your weight this holiday, stay away from desert and rather opt for a small fruit platter. Again don’t overdo it on the fruits as some of them are high in fructose(fruit sugars).


Keep on exercising

Sure, you can always come up with an excuse not to exercise. But slacking off on your fitness program during the holidays will only leave you with extra added KG’s and more stress come New Year’s.
• If you have a gym membership, see if there is a gym close to your holiday destination and continue with your gym training program, but mix it up to make it more interesting and fun.
• If you are a regular gym goer and can’t get to the gym, spice up your training and do something different. See if there are any fitness studios close by like CrossFit classes, Kettle bell classes, spinning studios etc.
• Go for a morning run or walk with family members – great time to bond and do something different together. No matter where you are on holiday, you can always go for a walk.
• Do family activities like skiing, hiking, tennis, beach volleyball etc.
• If your day is so busy that you miss a training session, don’t worry about it, just go tomorrow – do not stop going because you missed a session
• Get a home training program – download from USN

As long as you do something!

The holidays are a great time for celebrating with friends and family over food and drinks. But with just a little preparation, you can keep off the extra holiday kg’s and still enjoy all that the season has to offer.