Holiday Hoopla: Sweet Sarah's Top Tips

christmas decorations

We're in the final crush leading up to Christmas, and chances are, you're doing some merrymaking this weekend. While some trainers would encourage you to lay off all treats and sweets, I take a more moderate approach . . . maybe it's my old age, but I *do* think that holiday food and family traditions are important. The trick is to fit those into your new healthy lifestyle . . . to indulge and enjoy without going balls-out. Here are my top tricks for doing just that!

  1. Eat before parties and get-togethers. Fill your belly up with non-starchy veggies and lean protein. If you don't have any on hand, try a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt. Even a large piece of fruit will help. The point is NOT TO SHOW UP HUNGRY. You can eat  at your destination, but you will be more apt to choose wisely if you're not starving. Start with lean protein and vegetables, eat a little starch if you like, and think about skipping desserts. Want wine? Have a glass, but then definitely skip starch. Want an appetizer? Skip dessert. Trade off. Which item is the most important to you? Start there. Then stop.
  2. Have a plan. Check out menus. Think about what'll be served at a party. Figure out a strategy beforehand. What will you order? What indulgences are truly important to you? Your grandmother's famous sweet potatoes? Have a small serving. One. The specialty of the house at a swanky restaurant? Eat a half portion. The point is to avoid unknowns when possible. Sometimes it's impossible, and you'll have to work on the fly . . . then it's back to basics: protein and non-starchy veg first. Add-ons later. And not too many.
  3. Don't stuff yourself. Even if you're eating lots of delicious and un-fatloss-friendly items, people, don't gorge. You can taste and enjoy and not stuff yourself silly. You will feel more rotten if you do. It's just food. It'll be there tomorrow and also next Tuesday. You don't need to clean house.
  4. Move your body. Even if it's for 15 minutes. Even if it's "just" walking. Movement will help EVERYTHING during this busy time. Your mind will clear, your body will feel better, and you will remind yourself that you're more than just a partying, shopping and wrapping machine. Try burst training: when you get a minute (or 5), drop and do some pushups, hold a plank, do some air squats (these are easy to do in someone's bathroom, unnoticed - just sayin') . . . see also jumping jacks, high knees, T-pushups, etc. Quick 'n' dirty. This said, if you can keep up with your regular workouts, even better.
  5. Screw the "all or nothing" thinking. You are not "on the wagon" or "off the wagon," you are living your life in the holiday season. You are eating well when you can, you are adding treats and indulgences in a planned way. A great way to moderate is to "automate" a meal or two every day. Eat the same breakfast every single day - that way you know you're getting at least one healthful, balanced meal in. Shoot for two and even snacks if you can. I like to recommend breakfast and lunch on autopilot because the day usually gets more unpredictable as it goes on . . . a green monster smoothie, some scrambled eggs/whites, oatmeal, whatever sets you up right for the day, eat that. Try a big-ass salad with protein for lunch if you can swing it. Veggies will fill you up and keep you satisfied much longer than a ham sammie.

Enjoy yourselves. Don't "should" yourself silly. If you practice compassion and flexibility, you might find the weight of all the holiday eating pressure just lifts off your shoulders "magically." And if you're eating cookies, taters and/or cheese, delight in them - don't ruin it all by hating yourself with every bite you take. Drink your water, think of me . . . "what would Sarah do?" She'd eat the damn cookie, but try to get in some killer workouts all the while.

Be merry, all!