beware…starting about now, the creepy little snack-size candies start looming around the office, kids start bringing home the halloween treats, and the parties begin! and so also begin the onslaught of holiday huggy-bar hell, continuing through december 31st 2010, which at that point 99% of all people vow never again to touch another piece of chocolate and swear to workout 8 days a week. this is where i come in with my little tips on how to survive and even enjoy yourself without packing on the pounds. most of us know how we SHOULD eat, but make poor decisions either because of stress, emotions, boredom, or because we’re in a social environment. those little unnecessary treats here and there are what add up to the extra 3-5lbs come the new year that start piling on right about now starting with the candy corns and snack-size snickers. so see if you can relate to any of these scenarios and try my tricks below to scare those calories back into 1999.
the culprit: the night-stalker
eating perfectly all day, striding easily by the box of donuts at the office, and saying no to any temptation in sight this nutrition superhero has it all together – in the light of day. then like a bat at night, those emotions come out haunting and attack right after dinner which leads to unnecessary calories right before bed. this is OH so frustrating, because really who needs energy right before bed…calories that are merely stored as fat? (note: author is herby admitting to being such a little bat but has conquered this with these tricks!)
trick #1: couch rule
tv can be your worst enemy if you’re a night eater…your mind zones out, you reach for your (fill-in-the-blank-comfort-food) and you will keep eating until your tummy hurts. research shows we consume 36 – 71% more calories if we eat while watching tv! so watch your tv, fine but have a couch rule. you’ve heard of “mindful eating”. this is when you’re only focused on eating – nothing else. i learned about this the most when reading “women, food & god” and completely get the concept and adopted 1/2 of it. frankly, i can’t give up my wall street journal with my breakfast or my fitness mags at lunch – but those meals are so regimented and nutritiously balanced for me that i don’t struggle there. but i did adopt a couch rule. it’s night-time…i’m winding down, nothing to do, a bit bored so i have a rule that i have to eat dinner at the table, not on the couch and if i want a snack after dinner – back to the table i go. this reverts me to feeling like i’m 5 sitting at the table finishing my corn by myself, so i’d rather watch my episode of dancing with the stars than sit at the table by myself. try this: it works. no eating on your couch!
trick #2: distract thyself
tv is mindless and frankly useless, but admittedly entertaining. i’m amazed at the people that tell me they don’t have time to workout but they can give me a complete rundown on the latest series of CSI and whatever 3 reality series’ they’re watching. imagine this: how much richer your life would be if you spent your time doing something you enjoyed other than watching tv. i must admit, i did this because i wanted to distract myself – because you can’t eat while doing them – ha! i enjoy writing…so i started writing at night, pitter-pattering away on the keyboard which gets me that much closer to a book or finishing a blog post or just journaling away. i love reading…so i’ll curl up with a good book and head to bed a half-hour earlier. i have attempted knitting and all i’ve ever completed was a crooked scarf for my great grandmother. but point being is this: 1) you expand your world just a little bit by doing something you enjoy and may not try otherwise, 2) it’s actually very relaxing and there’s a sense of accomplishment, and 3) try scarfing down food while doing any of the above activities…nearly impossible! yes – it’s tricking yourself, but it works!
trick #3: freeze it
there’s nothing wrong with a little snack after dinner – nothing at all! it’s when that little snack leads to mindless eating that it’s a problem. i found a trick: freeze it! not only does freezing my nighttime snacks make it automatically seem like an ice cream treat because it’s frozen, but hello – it takes forever to eat…no scarfing! so right after i eat dinner i make my nighttime treat (always about 150 calories….unless it’s too late then i’ll skip it) and pop it in the freezer. some ideas of what i freeze: protein pudding (protein powder mixed w/almond milk), non-fat greek yogurt or cottage cheese mixed with frozen berries, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, grapes, or even just a protein shake and eat it like slushy!
the culprit: the social butterfly
this little flittering creature flies through each day eating clean as a whistle, making good choices, passing up temptations, and then a social situation presents itself and WHACK – it’s like flying smack dab into a windshield: all hell breaks looks. their mantra is: “enjoy life” or “it’s just one dinner” but unfortunately they make up for eating healthy all week by cramming well over 3000 calories into “just one dinner”. the good news: there are ways to be social, enjoy the party, and still not smithereen your hard work all week long.
trick #1: have a plan
there are situations you know you’re heading into when you go out: bread, appetizers, drinks, entrees, sides, dessert…the list goes on! going out for mexican with your friends? decide before you go that you’re skipping the chips and going to have 1 drink instead. dining italian? maybe you choose to forgo the bread, have a glass of wine and share dessert. trust me: have one chip and you’re a goner! but your reward is enjoying a heart-healthy glass of wine with dinner. this is life – you have to make choices and you can’t have it all - but you have to have a plan. it’s a lot easier to enjoy yourself once you’re there if you know what your plan is going in.
trick #2: sharing is good
in a social situation, often times there are appetizers galore so try to have a say on the sides that the table might share so you have control over what you’re eating – so if they want fried calamari, suggest the shrimp cocktail or some sort of veggie starter. entrees are SO big at restaurants – see if anyone is interested in sharing with you…you’ll cut your calories and bill in half. then, when it comes time for dessert, see if anyone wants to share the sorbet & berries. if not then just thoroughly savor your 2 bites of the chocolate souffle or cheesecake that someone else ordered, but don’t be the one licking the plate clean. your hips will thank you.
trick #3: drink up
water, that is. you’ve heard it a million times but this works especially in social situations. first off: ask for a straw – it’s easier to drink more water through a straw! then follow my little rules: drink 1 glass of water before you take a drink of any other beverage you might be enjoying for the evening, drink another glass of water with your entree and finish that before you even think of touching dessert, and then try and polish off one more glass after dessert! that way you get full on fewer calories and stay hydrated and still eat what you want (in moderation).
the culprit: the weekender
not to be confused with the social butterfly, the weekender is a species who eats healthy all week and then turns around and sabotages his or her success on the weekend, even if there’s no social situations whatsoever. this is the “i was good all week so i deserve this” person who takes it a little too far and unfortunately may undo most if not all of the hard work for 5 days by indulging for 2 1/2 days starting on friday at 5pm and going straight through til sunday night. here are little tricks to keep your weekend in check:
trick #1: single-serving
want to enjoy golden spoon once a week? (*ahem* i have no clue what you’re talking about!) great…have at it. sure it makes sense to get the larger size for 50 cents more, but be careful. will you really stop at half and save the other half for next weekend? i think not. i speak from experience! whether your “treat” for the week is frozen yogurt, pizza, or chocolate, choose to get only 1 serving …enjoy it, savor it, and then be done with it! there’s no need to have it in your house haunting you for the rest of the weekend. that’s unnecessary use of your willpower. try to keep things that tempt you out of your house altogether. that’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength on your part to know your “trigger foods” (as hungry girl calls them) and to avoid them. oh, and one more thing: make sure your single-serving is reasonable: 8oz of frozen yogurt, 2 pieces pizza, 1 chocolate bar…don’t overdo it people!
trick #2: just say no
ah, the holidays. you go somewhere for the weekend, they want to send leftovers home with you…repeat after me: “no thank you!”. there’s no reason for you to have the creamy casserole that aunt bee made in your fridge unless you want to pack some pudge on your backside. while a sweet offer, just politely decline. if you host something at your house, send leftovers home with them! this, of course you can feel good about because you hosted a somewhat healthy get-together to begin with. right?
trick #3: eat in
as fun as it is to eat out on the weekend, use the extra time you have to make a healthy version of your favorite foods and bonus: leftovers for the week! we all complain that we have no time to cook – but it can often be just as relaxing (and much cheaper) to make a healthier-for-you meal at home and curl up with a movie on the couch than spend a lot of time and money out and about. try this just one night a weekend and you’ll save money and calories – lots of ‘em. ideas for eating in: try bison burgers with baked sweet potato fries, make do-it-yourself pizzas made with whole wheat tortilla crusts and all the fixin’s, make a big pan of veggie & whole wheat noodle lasagna and enjoy with some vino, or with this crisp fall weather, have your crockpot do the work and have a pot-roast ready for you by friday night chock-full of veggies… the list goes on! you have a home-cooked, comfort food to enjoy at home and left-overs to enjoy the rest of the week!
so there you have it my little pretties…tricks to keep you spooky fit this fall and throughout this holiday season! remember to treat yourself…in moderation. share your top 3 treats with me – what are they? here are mine, in order: golden spoon (preferrably pumpkin & graham cracker swirled together), a great glass of wine, or dark chocolate. hmmm…who has a sweet tooth?