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Healthy Holiday Survival Tips

With Thanksgiving behind us, this marks the first Motivation Monday of the 2017 holiday season. Along with the hustle and bustle of cyber shopping, decorating and meal planning, it’s also the time of year many of us find our calendars filled with family get-togethers, office parties and drinks with friends.

For me, this season has turned extra festive now that I am newly engaged! (Can’t you just feel my smile jumping out at you from these typed words?) That means I’ve received even more of those “we-must-get-together-and-raise-a-glass-before-Christmas” invitations. With many bubbly-filled evenings in my immediate future, I realize now more than ever, I’d better follow my own tips when it comes to trying not to throw all those healthy habits out the window between now and New Year’s Day.

If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile you know chocolate, wine and Prosecco are a few of my favorite things. Like other indulgences, I always do my best to enjoy these treats in moderation. However, if you find yourself face-to-face with a sea of hors d’oeuvres, candy-cane-themed cocktails and sugary sweets, fear not! Here are some simple ways to get you through the season with your healthy lifestyle goals in check:

  • Plan Ahead:  If you know you’re going to share some holiday cheer in the evening, do not starve yourself all day. Eat a sensible breakfast and lunch and don’t forget to have a healthy snack packed with some protein up to one hour before the party starts. This will help you avoid arriving super hungry and grabbing the first (cheese-smothered, bread-heavy) thing you see. My sample menu for this type of day: Breakfast: Isagenix shake Lunch: 2 hard-boiled egg whites with grape tomatoes and pepper strips & one slice of toasted Ezekiel bread. Snack: 1/2 cup of blueberries or small green apple with handful of almonds. (Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with water.)
  • Cocktail Control: The every-other-drink rule works just as well at a holiday party as it does for happy hour. To space out the alcohol consumption, start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, switch to a glass of water or seltzer for your next beverage.
  •  Choose “Smart” Foods First:  More and more holiday parties are a cocktail and appetizer bonanza. Load up on some of the healthier options first, including the crudités – celery sticks, carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower. Tip: Try not to drown veggies in high-calorie dip. Instead, use mustard for a tangy, low-calorie alternative  Another idea: Attack the protein! I love shrimp, and with 18 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving, there’s no reason not to! (Unless you are allergic to shellfish, of course.) Sushi, skewered chicken or beef tenderloin strips are also better options than cheesy breads or creamy dips.
  • The Dessert Dilemma: What could be better than arriving at a party to find nothing but cocktails and cupcakes or wine and chocolate? If you know you’re attending one of these sweet celebrations, be sure to eat a small, sensible meal before arriving and tearing into the treats. When you do dig in, split a cupcake, cookie or piece of cake with a friend. If there’s any fresh fruit, eat that first.
  • Get Moving! I know, you’re busy. Trust me –  you can find the time to exercise. Pushing through two four-minute Tabatas or dare I say a whole 20 minutes of cardio or half of your favorite workout DVD is better than nothing. If you have a party after work, hit the gym or take a walk in the morning. If you live in a city like I do, don’t let the cold stop you in your tracks. Throw on an extra layer, pack the party shoes to go and burn some extra calories by walking to work and/or to the festivities.Remember, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. For me, that includes enjoying some holiday cheer…along with some chocolate and cupcakes!

Remember sometimes all you need is a little planning to make it through the holiday season and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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‘Tis the Season…

iStock_000014614375SmallOn this Motivation Monday, we’ve recovered from the turkey hangover but find ourselves ensconced in the hustle and bustle of the 2014 holiday season. While it’s known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” let’s not kid ourselves. It’s also a time filled with stress. How do we fit the shopping, decorating, card writing and other holiday prep into our days already filled with work, taking care of the kids and hosting or dropping in at a couple of  holiday parties along the way?

Despite the crunch, this is not the time to put the sneakers and workout wear in the back of the closet until 2015. In fact, the extra stress and calories thrown into our already frenetic days should make finding time to exercise more important than ever. It could be just what both your mind and body need to let go and enjoy some holiday cheer!

No doubt the extra chores paired with fewer hours of daylight can make it feel like there are fewer hours in the day. If you normally spend more than an hour at the gym or take 90-minute power walks with your friends in the neighborhood, chances are you’re going to need to spend some of those minutes elsewhere. So, here are some tips on how to fit fitness into your busy holiday schedule:

  • Switch things up: Try working out in the morning. If you can hit the gym, take a walk or break a sweat with some help from your favorite workout DVD first thing in the morning, you can cross exercise off your to-do list for the day. Two bonuses: you’ll be energized and focused thanks to the endorphin rush AND you’ll feel less guilty about having a treat or two at the holiday get-together in the evening.
  • Try the group thing: Most group exercise classes run between 45 and 60 minutes and take the guesswork out of planning your own routine. Give total body conditioning or strength training classes a shot as they get your heart rate up and hit all the major muscle groups in a short window. The group environment also gives you the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone who can share his or her own holiday season survival tips!
  • Make shopping physical: If you drive to a mall, don’t look for the closest parking spot to the entrance. Also, be sure to wear walking shoes or cross trainers to keep your body moving efficiently while you rush from store to store.
  • Arm yourself with healthy snacks: If you’re squeezing in a shopping trip between work and picking up the kids, chances are you’re in between meals and could be hit with a snack attack. Instead of letting the smell of cinnamon, chocolate or other decadent temptation get the best of you at the mall, be sure to have some almonds, an apple or snack bar in your bag (No matter what purse I leave the house with, there’s always a KIND bar stuck in one of the pockets).
  • Don’t arrive hungry: Never show up for a holiday get-together feeling ravenous. If you’re eating late in the day, have portion-controlled healthy meals leading up to the main event and a snack up to an hour before arriving at the party. This can help you avoid grabbing the first high-calorie, high-fat item you see.

What are your tricks for getting through the holiday season? I’d love to know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to get through a busy season and stay on the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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