Saturday, November 18, 2017

Battle The Holiday Bulge - No Thanksgiving Muffin Tops...Please!

     
     I probably only know two or three people personally that I do not think over-indulge during the holidays to some degree, and they were all anorexic at some point in their lives. I think it's safe to say that the majority of us, at least here in the United States, tend to go above and beyond for the holidays when it comes to food and festivities. I'm not complaining, and I know I can relate to all the people who will be complaining about all the weight they will have gained over the holidays, or how the dress they bought for New Year's Eve is too tight by December 31st.
     So how do we get to eat all of the delicious holiday meals, drink all of the pre-holiday celebratory cocktails that are poured over the next 6 weeks, eat the desserts brought in to work as left-overs,  and the candy sold in the stores 75% off... without increasing a clothing size? Weight gain really is simple arithmetic...burn the equal amount of calories that you've consumed or you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you've consumed then you lose weight...it's that simple! So ask yourself this question... "Do I want to run/walk the equivalent of a marathon (besides regular workouts) each week to offset the over-indulgence? I can tell you after doing only one HALF marathon in my life that the answer to that question is "Hell NO"!
     It has taken most of my adult life to find some sort of balance and reduce the self-loathing that typically used to occur after the holidays. I've been a Fitness Professional for over 30 years, doing Personal Training as well as teaching a variety of group exercise classes. Shortly after conquering 20 years of Bulimia I read the book Skinny Bitch (by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnounin) which opened my eyes to the horrific treatment towards animals that occurs every day in most slaughter houses. It broke my heart and made me not want to consume any animal products ever again! It also made me feel bad about all of the food I consumed over the years just to purge it after wards, while animals were suffering. Over the years I've had so many people tell me that I don't need to worry about what I eat because I'll just burn it off in my class, but the truth is...it takes more than one workout to burn off a really bad binge!
     Most of the foods and desserts put out for the holidays have some sort of animal products in them (baked goods have eggs and chocolate has dairy) so I walk away from it for the animals. That doesn't mean I can't do some serious damage with chips and hummus and some red wine!
   With all of the fitness apps and devices available to help you track your "steps" and count your calories, it is so much easier now to be accountable for your daily consumption and activity for the day. Since I've spent about 30 years of my life "dieting", I really have no interest in putting someone on a diet. I tell my clients to keep a food journal for 5 days and bring it to me so I can tweak it and give some suggestions or healthier options. Some people go for so many hours without eating but then their sugar level drops and they over eat on at dinner time or they immediately look to eat sweets.
     I also tell my clients to download "My Fitness Pal" (or another calorie-counting app) on their cell or get a Fitbit and start keeping track of their intake and output. After setting up your own profile and setting a goal for yourself, the app will let you know how many calories you should be consuming per day to meet your goal. As long as you're consistent with including all of food and beverages each day, you'll know if you're eating too much or too little to stay on track. You can even redeem yourself by doing an extra cardio workout if you go a couple hundred calories over (not 600 calories over!). FYI...50 minutes on the stationery bike will barely burn off ONE dessert!
     There are many ways to cut the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis that will ultimately assist in weight loss over a period of time as well as working out. Checking food labels and purchasing items that have less calories per serving can easily skim a couple hundred calories off of your daily intake.  I did an experiment recently to see if I could reduce my belly fat and see my abs again by cutting back on my wine consumption and I lost 3-4 pounds over two months (which made my abs somewhat visible again). I got into a routine of drinking 2 glasses of red wine 5-7 nights a week, so I cut back to only having it 3-4 nights a week and the scale started going down without changing anything else! The same would happen for someone who drinks a lot of soda or beer. 
     With the holidays upon us, now is a good time to start cutting back on bread, pasta, rice, and sweets throughout the week so when you go to a party or out to dinner you don't have to worry as much about what you're eating. You might want to also consider choosing between having the cocktails OR the desert, or having both but then only having an appetizer or salad as your meal instead of eating everything and then needing to do an hour of a cardio workout for the next 5 days to undo the damage.
     Back in my "obsessive" dieting days, I would be sure to do an extra hard workout before going to my family's for a holiday dinner so I'd feel less guilty for everything I was about to eat. I also figured I'd skip my meals early in the day and save the calories for the good stuff later on...BIG mistake! Fasting all day just makes your sugar levels drop causing you to have sugar cravings, usually causing you to over-indulge or just go straight for all of the carbs. Then the insulin in your body rushes in to metabolize the sugar, you feel tired and lethargic, and eventually look for more sugar to pick you back up. The photo is vegan cake (no eggs) with Trader Joe's Vanilla Soy Ice Cream and raspberries...yummy!
     Working out before going to a Holiday party or dinner is a great idea because it will make you feel good about yourself and more in-control, but you should be sure to eat some sort of protein and healthy fats (hummus and veggies, peanut butter and apples, salad with avocado and beans) a couple hours before leaving so you don't arrive feeling famished. I'm just working on my holiday vegan menu now but will post some photos on Instagram @cindyfoxfitness when I make some new recipes. Be sure to also check out some amazing recipes (some vegan and some not) from @hellocheftaylor on IG as well as her website/food blog at www.diaryofahungrygirl.com. Feel free to comment and share this with your foodie friends and workout buddies and have a great Thanksgiving!

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