As we kick off the start of two months full of holiday festivities, delicious meals, and busy days – you don’t want to forget all the healthy small changes you’ve been making (or thinking about making) throughout the year.
The purpose of the holiday hold’em challenge is to maintain your weight over the next two months. In the stressful holiday times, let’s not focus on losing lots of weight or trying to make huge changes. Instead, let’s aim to maintain weight. It’s a more reasonable goal and less likely to leave you frustrated at the end of December, but at the same time it encourages you to focus on making smart choices. Plus, when New Year’s Resolutions roll around, you won’t be setting a goal to drop the holiday weight you gained!
Holiday Weight Gain
Let’s get real for a second. There are tons of misconceptions floating around the internet about people gaining 10-20 pounds over the holidays. This isn’t true. You see, most people only gain a pound or two on average over the holidays. But the problem is many have a hard time losing that weight the next year. If this happens every holiday season, it adds up and becomes really detrimental over time (think an extra 10-20 pounds every 10 years).
Plus, those who are already overweight may be more likely to gain additional weight over the holidays compared to those who are normal weight (and this applies to children as well). About 15% of people gain 5 pounds or more each holiday season.
And last but not least, even if weight doesn’t change, some studies show that body composition changes. People stop working out as much during the busy holiday season, so they lose muscle mass and gain fat mass. Their weight may be equal, but their body composition becomes significantly less healthy.
The National Weight Control Registry tracks individuals who have successfully lost weight, and more importantly, maintained that loss over time. But even individuals who have been successful over years with weight loss still often struggle to maintain weight over the holidays. In fact, one study reports that about 38% of previous successful weight losers still ended up gaining more than 2 pounds over the holidays. Those who are successful at maintaining their weight over the holiday period use several strategies that you may find useful:
Create a better exercise routine. This can come in several forms, like exercising more minutes per week or incorporating high intensity intervals into your normal workout time to increase calorie burn.
Pay attention to your weight if you’re concerned. Many individuals regularly weigh in on the scale (for example, once a week) so they notice early if their weight is starting to creep up. While I don’t recommend weighing in everyday – especially if that number on the scale tends to affect your mood and causes you to “shame spiral” – a once a week weigh in can be useful for staying accountable.
Stay tuned into your eating habits. Be aware of the often oversized portions served at the holidays, as well as the abundance of super sugary/fatty treats that are high in calories. Remember mindful eating – eat when hungry, and stop when you are full. Along the same lines, don’t eat something if it’s not delicious to you. Also, you may want to keep a food journal to have a better awareness of your eating habits during this time.
Control your environment as much as possible. This helps set you up for success. For example, if you lose all willpower around cookies and pies, keep them out of the house the majority of the season. Indulge in your favorite treats on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but then send the leftovers home with your guests. If you find yourself subject to great portions at the holidays, try using a smaller plate to help control that. Skipping the gym often after work? Change into your workout clothes before you leave the office and head straight there before going home. The list goes on and on.
My challenge to you is to avoid weight gain throughout November and December! If you want some accountability, email me your weight this week. Then I’ll follow up with you the first week of December and the first week of January via email to ask for your latest weigh in. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with your goals when you know you’ll have to check in with someone later!
With Cinco de Mayo only a day away, I hope you’ve got some fun plans to celebrate with delicious Mexican cuisine. I know Mexican food is one of my personal favorites. Keep in mind though that certain foods and condiments pack in tons of calories and fat without many nutrients. Try these tips for a healthier Cinco de Mayo celebration:
1) Making burritos or enchiladas? Don’t use the gigantic oversized flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are typically a better choice than flour tortillas, since they’re smaller and more portion controlled, made with whole grains, and contain fiber. 2 small Mission corn tortillas contain only 110 calories and pack in 3 grams of fiber. If you prefer the taste of flour tortillas, chose the smaller size whole wheat tortillas.
2) Choose soft tacos over hard taco shells. The hard ones are typically fried – adding extra calories and fat.
3) Or skip the tortillas and shells all together! Add your ingredients to a salad instead. A southwestern salad with mixed greens, corn, beans, salsa, a few crushed tortilla chips and a little bit of cheese is a great nutrient-packed choice.
4) Load up on the veggies, herbs, and spices! Think of a variety of peppers (from sweet to spicy), salsa, herbs like cilantro, and spices like cumin and cayenne pepper. All of these contain beneficial nutrients – for example, did you know that a large red bell pepper contains 3 times the amount of Vitamin C in an orange?! There are also phytochemicals in vegetables and herbs that act in many helpful ways in the body. And not to mention that capsaicin in hot peppers and certain spices may give your metabolism a little boost!
5) Think outside the beef. Consider substituting other options like beans and fish in dishes like burritos and tacos. Beans are rich in fiber and protein, and actually have a ton of antioxidants. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may have cognitive benefits and reduce inflammation. Fish tacos pair well with a citrusy topping or slaw, which are naturally low in calories and rich in nutrients. Try fish tacos on corn tortillas topped with a different type of salsa made with chopped cucumbers, mandarin oranges, jalepeno peppers, tomatoes, and green onions (adapted recipe from UMass Extension)! So delicious.
6) Avoid too much sour cream. It adds lots of calories and unhealthy fats. Consider using small amounts of light sour cream, or use fat free greek yogurt instead.
7) Enjoy guacamole – but in moderation. Yes, guacamole is high in fat and calories – but it’s got heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as lots of vitamins and minerals! The key is a proper portion size and accompaniments. If you’re using guacamole as a dip, use veggies like carrots and celery rather than chips to cut down on the calories in chips, and enjoy a few spoonfuls of guac rather than the whole bowl. If you’re adding guacamole to an entrée dish, use a small amount for a big burst of flavor.
8) Did you know that certain restaurants and food producers add mayonnaise or sour cream to create a creamier guacamole? Not only is this unnecessary – regular guacamole is so good as is! – but it adds extra fat and calories. Whip up your own guacamole instead. It can be as simple as avocado, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a little diced onion. Add in tomatoes and peppers if you’d like too! These provide extra volume and texture without many calories.
9) Avoid the frozen, overly sugary margaritas, which can contribute tons of added sugar without any vitamins and minerals. For example, a classic frozen margarita from Red Lobster contains 470 calories and 96 grams of carbohydrate! Instead, try making your own healthier cocktails. Try pureeing some fresh raspberries with orange juice, then add seltzer water, a shot of tequila, and a squeeze of lime. Or go simple with a light beer and a squeeze of lime.
What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? I’ll be heading over to a barbeque with friends from my triathlon group. I’d love to hear your plans and any delicious – and healthy – foods that you’ll be enjoying!
And I’m not talking about Fergie and Will I Am. I’m talking about the food, a nutritious bean-like choice. Am I way behind the times that I did not know black eyed peas are considered a lucky New Year’s food? In the Southeast, dishes that contain black eyed peas are served either just after midnight or during New Year’s Day.
The practice has several proposed explanations. Some say it relates to a Jewish tradition of eating black eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. In the 1730s, non-Jewish people were said to pick up the tradition from Jewish individuals living in Georgia.
Another explanation dates back to Civil War times, when black eyed peas were traditionally used for livestock feeding rather than for feeding people. When the Union troops raided and stole other crops from Confederates, they left behind the black eyed peas. People discovered they were quite nourishing, and felt lucky to have some food left for the winter.
It could relate to slavery as well. Black eyed peas were sometimes some of the only foods given to slaves to eat. On New Years in 1863, celebration for the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation was done by eating the only food around – black eyed peas.
Still others claim that the tradition simply relates to the south being a great place for farming – so black eyed peas are eating each winter to celebrate this crop which holds up well and is cheap.
Black eyed peas are served a few different ways on New Years, depending on location and family tradition:
- With collard, turnip, or mustard greens, or cabbage, in which the greens are said to represent money and the black eyed peas are said to represent coins.
- Served with a side of cornbread, to represent a brick of gold.
- Black eyed peas with stewed tomatoes are said to represent health and wealth
- Served with pork, the black eyed peas represent prosperity because they swell when cooked while the pork represents positive happenings for the next year (since pigs move forward when foraging)
- Some say for the best chance at luck, you must eat exactly 365 black eyed peas at New Years.
- Some people cook black eyed peas and toss in a new penny or dime. If you get it in your dish, you’ll have luck the next year. Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this, especially with kids – what if they swallow it?! But just sharing traditions.
In any event, black eyed peas are a great nutritional choice from the legume family. A half cup contains only 100 calories along with 6.5 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of fiber, and a hefty 45% of your daily folate needs.
Happy (early) New Year! (And if you still haven't signed up for our 2012 Challenge, do so here
! It's going to be great!)
(Historical data from Amanda Galiano & Sheridan Alexander)
Just wanted to let you all know that I'm in New York visiting family over the next few days, so I'll probably have a lack of posts until after Christmas. We got into my family's house last night at 1am, and have been spending the day doing some last minute shopping and meeting up with friends. Tomorrow, we'll be visiting my best friend from home, her husband, and their adorable 2 year old daughter up in Albany. Then on Christmas we'll spend the day at my dad's house, enjoying time with the family.
A little preview of what our family holidays are like - definitely entertaining! (That's my brother at Christmas last year).
I hope you'll take the next few days to treat yourself to some well-deserved time to relax. Don't stress about making the perfect holiday meal or getting all the gifts wrapped just right - instead, take in the lights, the music, and the feel-good holiday spirit that surrounds us at this time of year. Your health and your body will thank you for giving it some much needed R&R!
And just a little teaser...we will be rolling out a new promotion here with the start of the New Year that you will definitely want to hear about. Be sure to follow the blog (you can subscribe to the RSS feed, found on the right), follow us on facebook
, and/or follow us on twitter
for more news about this very soon!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and joyous wishes for all the other holidays you are celebrating! Looking forward to talking more with you next week.
Over the next two weeks, you probably will spend a lot of time with friends and family celebrating the holidays. These holiday parties can often mean packing on the pounds - but not this year! With these great tips, you’ll navigate your way through the festivities without adding extra weight.
1) Eat only the best sweet treats
There will likely be lots of sweet temptations during the holiday season – your coworker brings in a pecan pie to work, your book club members bring Christmas cupcakes to your meeting, and holiday parties become a potluck of yummy desserts. Before you indulge in each and everyone, ask yourself – is this really a special holiday treat? If it’s your grandma’s pumpkin pie that she only makes once a year – dig in. But another box of store bought cookies out in the office break room? Take a pass.
2) Drink smart
Holiday parties often have opportunities for drinking alcoholic beverages - remember that calories in these add up quickly, especially in mixed drinks. Light beer or vodka and seltzer are some lower calorie choices. Alternate between alcoholic beverages and water during the course of the night.
3) Plan ahead with a healthy day of eating
Don’t hold off on eating all day to “bank” your calories for the party that night – you’ll most likely be starving by party time and end up binging on high calorie treats. Instead, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you won’t have time to eat a light dinner before the party, be sure to snack on a fiber and protein rich snack beforehand. Fiber and protein help you feel full and satisfied longer, so that apple and peanut butter may help you fight the urge to pick at all the appetizers when you arrive.
4) Be prepared
If you’re bringing food to a party, consider bringing a healthy option – that way, you know there will be something for you to eat. Top a fruit salad with some pomegranate seeds for a delicious and festive touch to a healthy dish.
5) Keep moving
Remember that not all holiday activities have to revolve around food. Ready to brave the cold? Try a Jingle Bell run this week. Need some extra excitement at the family get-together? Get everyone in the family moving with some Dance Central for X-box Kinect. Staying at a hotel for New Years? Take advantage of that indoor pool and do some laps on New Years Day.
Every year you vow to finish holiday shopping early, and every year you find that you’re still not done and it’s a week before Christmas! Time to worry? Not with this handy list of the top holiday gifts for nutrition and fitness fanatics. Treat your friends and family (or yourself!) to one of these great choices:For the person who loves cooking...
1) Cookbooks – There are tons out there – and who doesn’t like browsing around Barnes and Noble for something like this?! Take your time looking for something that might be a good match for the person. Are they looking for family friendly meals? Maybe try Rachael Ray’s Yum-O! Family Cookbook
. Do they enjoy making a lot of different types of cuisines? The American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America Cookbook
might be a good choice.
2) Or create your own cookbook and gift basket! Put together a packet of some of your favorite recipes, and then buy some of the staples you need to give make them – like a basket with whole wheat pastas, brown rice, beans, and some new spices and the corresponding recipes.
For the runners...
3) Fuel Belts
– A perfect gift for endurance runners and triathletes. The classic endurance fuel belt holds four 7-ounce bottles to keep you hydrated and has a handy pouch to hold keys, money, or other necessities.
4) Body Glide
– Essential for long distance runners. Body Glide can be rubbed along spots where chafing usually occurs.For the swimmers...
5) Waterproof mp3 player – If you have a swimmer on your list, the new waterproof mp3 players are great for those who are bored with quiet laps. A little musical motivation may be all they need to kick it up a notch.
For those who need a little more fun in their workout...
6) Dance Central 2 for X-box Kinect – My fiancé just got this for us recently, and I absolutely love it. The Kinect sensor measures your movement as you follow along with the dancers onscreen. You can play by yourself, or battle against a friend. A perfect gift for those who don’t like traditional exercise, this game makes burning calories fun!
subscription and a compatible mp3 player - I’m not really an I-pod girl, so I love my little Sansa Clip
mp3 player. It’s small, cute, and clips on easily to my sports bra or pants. I subscribe to Rhapsody, which for $10 a month lets you transfer unlimited music onto compatible mp3 players
. Their music guide has a top tracks list and other playlists, so if I’m in need of some new motivation I can skim those for some new tracks.
8) Gift certificates - Think about fun fitness classes like zumba, kickboxing, or maybe something slightly scandalous like pole dancing!For the serious athletes...
9) Timex Ironman Watches
– These come in varieties from moderately priced to expensive, and have tons of features. Track laps, distance, and pace. Some have corresponding heart rate monitors, and others have GPS enabled capabilities.
10) Foam Rollers – You can find these online at various websites, as well as certain sporting goods stores and specialty running stores. Basically, it’s a firm foam log that comes in varying sizes. You use it with your body weight to put pressure on muscles and help work out those knots! It’s a great, reasonably priced tool (especially for runners).For the endurance junkies...
11) Adventure Outing - Think outside the box for some adventure based gifts. Perhaps a whitewater rafting excursion, skydiving passes, or a ziplining trip? Groupon, Buy With Me, and Living Social can make finding these a little easier and less costly.
12) Inspired Wellness Solutions Gift Certificate - And of course, an IWS gift certificate is sure to make anyone on your list happy, from your sister who wants her kids to eat vegetables to your niece who is training for a 10K. You can order one of our services
online for them, or contact us
for a gift certificate in any dollar amount and let them choose what they want to use it on.