Health/Fitness

Breaking the Holiday Habit: A Guide to Staying Thin This Season

by Stephen Mosher
Contributor
Monday Dec 2, 2013
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  (Source:Mathew Mead AP)

I sure do love the holidays. Not because of Santa or decorations or presents - I love it because I get to spend time with my family eating and drinking, then I get to spend January trying to undo the damage done to my waistline and psyche. That part, I hate. I have, though, developed a system for breaking the pattern of Season’s Eatings. The only way to break a pattern is break it.

Don’t change the way you eat at home. Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean you have to take a vacation from your routine. Stay on your normal food schedule, don’t grocery shop any differently than you normally do. If you want a Christmas cookie, you have to know you will encounter them at Christmas parties. Eat other peoples’ cookies, not your own.

When you do come across holiday food at Christmas parties, you have three options: 1) Abstain. 2) Take a cocktail plate off the buffet and collect one of each item you want - one cookie, one square of fudge, one deviled egg... that is your party meal. Nurse it slowly, enjoy every bite; when the plate is empty, get rid of it and enjoy having eaten those items, as well as keeping your waistline. 3) Don’t eat throughout the night - visit with friends, gossip, exchange gifts, play games. When you are ready to leave, on your way to putting on your coat, check out the buffet and eat one or two items that get your attention - then get your coat and run for the hills. Do not look back.

Avoid overeating at parties by having a healthy and substantial dinner before leaving for the fete. You are playing the real life "Hunger Games" and you want to win.

Schedule your workouts. Put them on your calendar. Consider it a must do and just do it; like when you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth - your workout is an essential, like breathing or drinking water. You don’t think about it, you just do it. Keep your gym bag by the front door or in your car and go train. I think of my training as my job. All excuses are invalid. Miss no workouts!

Make sure the foods you prepare at home are filled with flavor. Use spice, cook with onion, put lemon in your water; if you make sure everything you eat is overloaded with flavor, you will feel more satisfied.

Make sure everything you eat is an event. Don’t eat on the run. If you are making a snack of an apple, slice it up, put it on a plate with some shreds of iceberg lettuce and eat it with a knife and fork. A big part of eating is the psychology of the act and if everything you eat feels like a meal, you won’t crave things - just make sure that the food on those plates is healthy and not waistline threatening.

So you like to give away home baked gifts? Buy disposal tins at the store and bake banana bread and pumpkin chocolate chip bread and give them away in the foil tin in which they were made. If you don’t have to cut brownies or remove cookies from a baking sheet, there is less chance of one of the cookies or brownies accidentally falling off the kitchen table and into your mouth.

Find or create healthier versions of holiday favorites. Sweet potatoes are great without the marshmallows. Quinoa with dried cranberries and toasted almonds is a great substitute for anything made with white rice. Fresh green beans with sautéed shallots have all the flavor and crunch of that green bean casserole with the fried onions on top. Any recipe can be modified when it comes to looking good in your New Year’s Eve outfit.

Consume no eggnog. That is all.

Remember, every day, remind yourself often: it is extremely easy to put on weight. It is not easy taking it off. One requires absolutely no effort at all and the other takes hard work.

Also remember, every day, that you are worth this effort.

Stephen Mosher is a Texan with a background in photography, writing and physical fitness. He has published one book of photographs, been the subject of the documentary film "Married and Counting," blogged on topics ranging from addiction to the arts, from health and fitness to his southern roots. He, his husband and their family reside in New York City. www.StephenMosher.com

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