I try. I really, really try. But… Healthy around the holidays is hard! Right? I mean, there are days and days, weeks even, of delicious food, parties, cookie exchanges, craft fairs with tasty treats… the list goes on and on, so do the calories - directly on my waist.
Now, I am all for enjoying the holidays - and if you are like me, you may want to indulge and not feel guilty about it - while also not gaining 10 pounds. Go for it. Check this out…
As in the past couple of years, I’m doing some self-accountability - and you are all now my witnesses. I am being honest with myself and realize I probably will not lose weight over the next 6 weeks - however, my goal is to maintain within 1 pound. Here we go. It all starts with a plan…
STEP 1 - My Deliciously indulgent BAD days
I know the holidays add up to the following days in my world - obviously we all celebrate differently:
- 1) Thanksgiving Eve aka Birthday Dinner- that’s traditionally when we celebrate my birthday with friends that have come home for Turkey Day. I will indulge in a few drinks, a fun dinner, and hopefully a delicious chocolate something-something (that is a hint).
- 2) Thanksgiving - I suppose this is pretty self-explanatory. I know some folks do a big breakfast as well as dinner. But, as turkey, cranberry, potatoes and rolls are 4 of my favorite things, I usually go super light in the morning in prep for the afternoon binge.
- 3) Holiday Party - I am throwing this one in as I am sure there will be at least one gathering (more - if you feel like inviting me!)
- 4) Christmas Eve - not sure what it will be, but I am sure it will be good… and filling!
- 5) Christmas Day - unlike Thanksgiving, this is a day of indulgence - I’m sure there will be pancakes and bacon and such for breakfast, a large lunch/dinner, and then snacks here, there, and everywhere.
- 6 & 7) Christmas Family Weekend - our family lives out of town, so I would assume no matter where we meet, there will be a day of two of reveling (oh, thank goodness I don't live closer to all these amazing cooks!).
- 8) New Year’s Eve - again, not sure - but probably a few more sugary drinks than usual.
- 9) New Year’s Day - Holiday comfort and recovery mode. I will not start a "diet" on this day as I’m a rebel and resolutions are just screaming to be broken. I usually wait a few days to declare the new year’s goals.
- 10) Some other day of fun - just in case.
Okay - so if we start counting from Thanksgiving Eve that gives me 10 "free" days through New Year’s Day. Which, conversely, means I have 27 days where I can stay on track. 27 days where I can choose to make healthy choices. Shoot - there goes my plan for 6 weeks of total debauchery.
Ok, you still with me? Stop reading right now, and figure out your "free" days. Let’s be accountable together. Own it.
Now we’ve figured out when we can indulge without necessarily worrying about it - although I almost guarantee if you print out your list and stick it on your fridge you won’t be as "bad" as you would have been without it.
Step 2 - Counteracting the Calories - the Great Outdoors
So, now that you’ve figured out your "free" days, let’s figure out your "counteractive" days and what you can do with them. The holiday season is not a reason to forget about your exercise routine - even if you're traveling! It’s actually a great time to ramp it up, or start it up for that matter.
The Adirondacks offer amazing opportunities for burning calories - and most of them don’t seem like torture - aka exercise.
Did you know:
Data from Harvard Medical School reveals:
- A person who weighs 155 pounds burns 223 calories in half an hour.
- Someone who is 185 pounds burns 266 calories in 30 minutes.
Data from Harvard Health Publications reveals:
- A 125-pound person who spends 30 minutes cross-country skiing or snowshoeing can expect the activity to burn about 240 calories.
- If you weigh 185 pounds, you'll burn roughly 355 calories as you perform either winter activity.
And this is another interesting tidbit: if you choose cross country or snowshoeing, you can expect to burn about 45 percent more than walking or running at the same speed.
Information from skiing.com states:
- An adult between 110 and 200 pounds can burn between 250 and 630 calories per hour snowboarding.
Using one of the many online health calculators we also discovered that:
- A 150 person could expect to burn 214 calories iceskating for 30 minutes.
Of course, if you happened to glimpse me skating on the Olympic Oval this past weekend, you would know that I probably burned about 100 calories - and that was from rolling around on the ice and struggling to stand up.
Get out, have fun, bring the family - chase the kids. Winter Hiking rocks - right now, it's still a great time to bundle up and hit the trails! Go sledding, throw snowballs, shovel the snow, walk around the lake! How about challenging yourself with the Turkey Trot or Jingle Bell Run?
Indoor Activities - for those days when you "just don’t have any free time"
So, you don’t have time to hit the trails or the gym (or you simply can’t because your 5 year old is holding you hostage in his lego village). Or maybe you're visiting us here in the Adirondacks and your hotel or rental home doesn't have a gym. How about these simple tricks to rev up your metabolism…
Did you know:
Studies have shown that walking for even one to two hours a week (15 to 20 minutes a day) may help to decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, developing diabetes, or dying prematurely.
And, most recent studies show that the 20 minutes of exercise doesn’t need to happen all at once. Breaking it up may prove to be beneficial in that it gets you up and moving and various times throughout the day.
Try this: Like TV? So do I
Did you know if you get up and grab a couple cans of vegetables (or how about a pair of heavy ski boots?) and do arm curls during one set of commercials, you’ve worked out for 2 minutes? Hit all the commercials in a normal half-hour show and you’ve racked up 8 minutes.
- How about this - stand up and walk in place during your regular half-hour sitcom - take a break during the commercials. You’ve worked out for approximately 22 minutes.
- I like to do squats during the commercials. (Ok, that’s a lie - I do NOT like to do squats ever, but at least I get them out of the way. I aim for 60 a day - broken into 3 sets of 20. I’m working my way up.)
- After each set of 20 squats I use my arm weights (or canned veggies - finally found a use for them!) to do tricep thingies (not sure what they’re called, but I hold them over my head and dip them backwards).
- And, of course, there’s always leg lifts (3 sets of 20 on each side) and good old fashioned sit-ups, and…
You get the idea - being inside does not mean you can’t get in 20 minutes a day!
STEP 3 - How about healthy food options for the holiday swap?
Here’s one of my favorite super-simple recipes - get ready to hit the store; it travels easily, kids love them, adults have no idea they are low fat, and I have something I can indulge in and not feel guilty about! And, even though I normally don’t like anything with pumpkin in it, this does not taste like pumpkin at all. I ask you to try it before you rule it out.
Ready? Think you can handle it?
- 1 box of cake mix (I suggest super-moist - any flavor. I usually go with Devil’s Food or Spice)
- 1 15 oz can of 100% pure pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)
- Mix together - add a little water to suit thickness (I usually end up with less than a 1/4 cup)
- Bake as directed.
- Once in a while I get really creative and make them as big soft cookies - then fill with a low fat frosting or filling of choice.
Note: If you’re using a larger pan this recipe bakes up more like a brownie than a cake. I usually make muffins - they bake up much better.
What are some of your favorite low-fat or healthier recepes? I'd love to hear them!
Wrapping It Up (does that burn calories?)
Alright, so now we’ve talked about having our Plan. We know when we will indulge. We know we are going to aim to add daily exercise. We have a low fat recipe. We have no excuses! Have fun, and remember - just because you indulge for a few days doesn’t mean you need a free pass for the 6-week holiday season. I’m choosing to maintain my weight this season - what are you choosing?