We all have had it happen to us before and we are pretty sure it is going to happen again. Everyone knows that the chunk of calendar between Halloween and New Years Eve is famous as the biggest period of weight gain we all face each and every year.
Sure, we gain a little here and there around Memorial Day, 4th of July barbecues, picnics and various other events like birthday parties, company outings, anniversary celebrations, etc., but pound for pound this 2 month period is truly devastating to your waistline.
Therefore, I have decided to dedicate this column just in time to give you some tried and true surefire ways of maintaining - and even possibly losing weight this year. First things first, take a look back over the past few months and think about what you have done to keep yourself in some decent physical condition. Have you exercised with any regularity?
Have you tried to eliminate simple sugars and processed carbohydrates from your diet? Have you increased your water consumption? If you can answer no to all or any of these questions, then you have your work cut out for you this Holiday Season!
Just like anything in life where we attain a certain level of success, we must practice and practice and practice again to obtain proficiency. Health and wellness is just that - constant practice and adherence to healthy lifestyle habits that over time result in successful and healthy lives. Now, let the fun begin!
- Water, water and more water. The weather has turned cooler and we don't find ourselves as thirsty when we are not sweating profusely from the heat. That does not matter. An old rule of thumb is that when you are actually thirsty, you have reached the beginning stages of dehydration.
Solution: Keep a bottle of water on your desk all day long. Take sips constantly. When it is empty, refill it and begin again. 2 liters is a good start but 3 liters is better. If you drink coffee all day long, drink one glass of water for each cup of coffee to offset the dehydrating effect of the caffeine.
- Snack constantly! Yes, I am telling you to eat all the time. Study after study has proven that small snacks throughout the day keeps the metabolism working at a higher level and reduces cravings for sugary/starchy/fatty foods that we go eat with a vengeance when we are really hungry.
Keep fresh fruit and unsalted nuts, (almonds and pecans are best), but keep the consumption down to the serving size recommended on the container - or less - daily. Avoid processed snacks like cheese crackers/chips or cupcakes/pastries/cakes. Don't fall for the trail mix scam either.
Those little packages of "healthy trail mix" contain enough carbohydrate and fat to power a triathlete in a race. If you have access to a refrigerator, then keep some low fat yogurt/cottage cheese in there as the protein and fat provide a more sated feeling.
- Move frequently. Don't allow yourself to get so bogged down on a project that you forget to stand and move around frequently. Every thirty minutes minimum, you should walk away from your desk and do a few quick stretches for your back and neck and take a few deep breathes.
This will ensure oxygen continues to flow to the entire body and will help ward off soreness in the hips/low back and even help reduce fatigue.
- Exercise in small batches. Ideally, 30-45 minutes a day of vigorous movement is ideal, but if you are short on time then taking 10 minute breaks to walk a few flights of stairs, a few stretches and if you have the room, a few body weight calisthenics will ensure that your body resists the tendency to store calories that become fatty deposits where we least want them.
Park your car in the back of the lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Use your lunch break for a thirty minute walk. You can be creative here, just move!
- When attending parties, do not stand and socialize around the snack tables. If it is within reach, it will wind up in your mouth! Take a small plate and move away to converse with the other guests. Try holding the plate with your dominant hand and eat with your non dominant hand. This will slow down how many mouthfuls you take considerably!
- Go with light beer or vodka or red wine instead of egg-nogg/punches/heavy creme influenced drinks. A typical cup off egg-nogg can have as many as 450 calories - more than a slice of pizza! Watch out when eyeballing the cheese platter.
Cheese, along with cookies/cakes/pastries at these parties has the highest concentrations of fat and cholesterol per serving. Stick with the veggie platters and go sparingly on the dip. Once again, use the smallest plate available when making your serving. Portion sizes count!
- Take out your calendar and circle the dates where you will be attending Holiday functions. Plan on the day before and the day after for adding time and intensity to any exercises that you perform.
This way, you can help tilt the calories consumed versus the calories burned ratio in your favor. An extra 100 calories here and there add up quickly. The trick is to have the calories burned, not consumed!
- At work, encourage co-workers to bring in healthy treats to share. Sure, we all love the frosted cookies and the fruit cakes, (ok, maybe not so much with the fruit cakes), but eating this stuff day after day after day will balloon your waist and hips faster than imagined.
If you choose to cook for co-workers, then there are literally thousands of recipes you can find online, complete with nutrition information that will give you lower calorie, nutritious and good tasting snack ideas.
Hey, I have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet, but some of the recipes that I have sampled fooled even my industrial strength sugar cravings.
- Did I mention to drink water? It is so important that I included it on this list twice. Not only does it flush toxins, but it also increases oxygen supply to your body and you can not burn fat without copious amounts of oxygen.
- Get a pedometer. You know, one of those little things that clip to your waistband that counts how many steps you take. Wear it all day and try to get 10,000 steps in a day. That is roughly equivalent to 3 miles of walking. While that may sound like a lot, if you try to find ways to move at work, it will add up quickly.
Bring a memo to a co-worker instead of emailing it. Walk up the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the back of the lot. Get up and walk to the cooler to refill your water bottle. Continue this at home by taking a walk with the family after dinner. It all ads up!
Well I hope this little list can give you the much needed push we all require to not only survive, but to thrive during this most dangerous time of the year! Print out this list and put it on your desk and tape one up in the employee break-room as well. If you see it, you will do it.
Have a safe and healthy Holiday Season and I look forward to giving you more tips about Corporate Wellness in 2010! Just move!
About the Author
Phil A. Lalli, BA/APFS, is a native of East Northport, New York and is a Fitness Consultant and Professional Fitness Trainer with over 20 years experience. He currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his wife Bonnie and their 2 whippets who are part time pet therapy dogs and full time 38 mph couch potatoes. Questions, comments or suggestions? Phil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.