5 almost guilt-free tips for holiday eating

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Twin sister & I write the syndicated blog Fun & Fit. We use humor to answer real fitness questions from real people. Editor/Author/Speaker. ACE Certified 20+ years. Editors, writers, presenters, speakers, instructors, emcees.

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Thanksgiving is now over, and there’s just a tiny little chance you might have eaten more than you planned to, and exercised less than you swore to. Ah, the official start of the dreaded holiday season! And why do I say “dreaded?” Because most of us make resolutions, vows, promises and pinky swears about all the food we’re going to avoid, followed by all the walks we’re going to take. When this doesn’t happen 100%, guess what? We berate ourselves. Now how is feeling bad about a so-called “failure” going to make anyone feel all warm and glowy about being fit and healthy?

So…here are 5 almost guilt-free tips for making it through the holidays in one same-size piece:

1. When the big holiday spread is laid out, look it over before putting any food on your plate. Decide which things you really love and just KNOW you’ll have seconds of. If it’s that sweet potato with marshmallows concoction, may I just say “Ewwwwww?” Then choose what you like fairly well, but can live with having just a single helping. For that food, take 1 less spoonful than you took last year. Then all you’re left with is the food that you HAVE to try because Aunt Cheek-Pincher made it “special” and you’ll hurt her feelings. For that stuff, just take a teaspoonful (or none, if you can get away with it) and move it around the plate a bit! Even if the stuff you picked for seconds is junk, at least you’re taking in fewer calories overall and it is just ONE DAY out of 365. Notice I am not recommending eating junk on a regular basis. Bad advice. Bad. Bad.

2. On the days that aren’t a food-laden holiday, but might be more of a busy, leading-up-to more stress and lots of chores kind of day, there are still ways to help yourself. If you’re going shopping, take each purchase to the car, then go back to the next shop, rather than holding on to all the bags. That little bit of extra walking <em>counts as exercise!</em> And as you walk to the car, do a little bicep curl holding those bags. Dorky? Maybe. But having toned arms is pretty cool. I am not advocating buying more stuff just to have more to pump, although…..

3. I hate the word self-control. Why? Because it sounds like a panty hose ad. I prefer to say “self-choice.” This is a hectic time of year and it’s not easy or fun to prepare healthful meals all the time. But you can only eat what you bring into the house, right? So whether you grab something to-go or do a quick and easy meal prep, decide before you buy. For example, if you know you’ll be out late shopping, pick out the night’s dinner before you head out. It’s so much easier to make good choices before you’re grumpy and tired (yeah, I’ve done mall shopping with little kids).

4. Consider making yourself a mental graph. When you start to get too tired or busy to take your walk (or whatever your preferred type of exercise is), ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-100 (1 being low and 100 being high), how badly do I want to give up the exercise?” Then ask yourself how you’ll feel afterward if you <em>do<em/> the exercise. For example, “I want to make sure the couch doesn’t get lonely” ranks a 75 because you really are tired, versus “I’ll feel like a 99 after I exercise.” Then it’s easier to make a conscious, deliberate choice because you’ve ranked your priorities.

5. Ask for a loyal friend as your holiday gift. Or get one on sale. It’s far more fun if you have a friend who will hold you accountable (“Oooh, are you really going to wash down that meal with a PopTart?”) and walk with you.

Bio: Alexandra Williams, MA, is the co-owner (with her twin sister) of Fun & Fit, a humorous fitness advice blog. She has been teaching, presenting and writing about fitness for over 25 years (since she was 7 and 1/2)! Currently on staff in the exercise studies department at UCSB, she is also a contributing editor and writer for IDEA Health and Fitness Association’s many publications.