As you’re busy prepping for the holidays and attending festive gatherings, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be a time when fitness and healthy eating plans go out the window. But you can still keep up your running routine and avoid weight gain during the holiday season. Try to stick to some or all of these healthy eating and exercise strategies.
1. Don’t skip meals.
If you’re going to a holiday party in the evening, don’t make the mistake of skipping breakfast or lunch. Although it seems like a good strategy to “save” some calories for later, not eating a healthy breakfast or lunch may lead to overeating later in the day.
2. Bring your own healthy dish to parties.
Most of the dishes at holiday gatherings will be high in taste — as well as calories and fat. If you bring your own healthy entrée or appetizer to the party, you’ll know there will be at least one low-fat, low-calorie option. Plus, the host will appreciate your help and thoughtfulness.
3. Eat small meals throughout the day.
If you’re heading to an evening event, eat regular meals and healthy snacks every few hours up until party time. You won’t arrive at the party ready to attack the appetizers. Make sure you include fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, into your meals. They’ll keep you full a lot longer.
4. Avoid taste tasting while cooking and baking.
Tasting and sampling your homemade meals and treats for your friends and family members can add up to a lot of extra calories. Try to keep your tasting to a minimum – a teaspoon should be plenty. And make sure you’re not hungry when you’re cooking, so you won’t be tempted to go overboard to stop your hunger pangs.
5. Register for a race.
Whether you choose a fun holiday-themed race or one that’s after January 1, having a race on your calendar will help you stay motivate to keep running during December. Check out your local running club’s website or sites like active.com to find races near you.
6. Use small plates.
The larger the plate, the more you’ll fill it and risk taking in way too many calories. If you’re attending a party with a buffet or large spread of food, use a small plate so you’ll take smaller portions.
7. Limit your high-calorie beverages.
You’re most likely to find plenty of high-sugar, alcoholic beverages at holiday gatherings, and they can add a lot of sneaky, empty calories. Alcohol consumption is also often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.
When there are lots of tempting, high-calorie beverages around at parties, drink club soda or sparkling water instead. Squeeze a lemon or lime into it if you want a little more flavor. In dairy-based drinks, use low-fat or skim milk in place of heavy cream. If you really want some of that egg nog or mulled wine, treat yourself to one glass and sip it slowly so you can really savor it.
8. Treat yourself.
Indulge with some shopping, rather than eating, and buy yourself an early holiday gift of some new running gear. A new pair of running tights, a cozy fleece, or a new winter running hat will get your more excited and motivated to go out for a run.
9. Plan your runs.
It’s easy to say that you’ll keep running regularly during the holiday season, but sticking to it requires a strategy. You’re more likely to run if you schedule the time. Schedule your runs like appointments, so you’ll see them as a priority, even in the middle of a hectic week.