Ready to visit family for the holidays but don’t want to gain weight and undo all of your hard-earned weight-loss efforts from the past year? The holidays are, of course, a chance to indulge, but for many of us it can be extremely difficult to stop once we get started.
Enter obesity expert Yvonne Sanders, who knows firsthand what it’s like to carry the burden of weight during the holidays. After losing 63 pounds herself more than 17 years ago and joining the U.K.’s largest independent weight-loss company, Slimming World, Sanders has made it her mission to educate and encourage everyone to believe they can be the weight they really want to be.
Below, Sanders shares simple tips for how you can prevent holiday weight gain while still enjoying the festivities.
Steps to Take Before You Travel for the Holidays
Try making a list of all the fun things you’d like to do while you’re visiting that could make your trip a little more active – like walking with relatives, playing a game outside, or hitting a local indoor recreation center for a game of mini golf if the weather is too cold to be outdoors.
Think about the options you have to eat more healthily. It might be impossible to stay on track at every meal; however, making the healthiest choices you can, when you can, will protect your weight loss.
Set a goal before you leave. That doesn’t have to be a weight-loss goal: It could be a goal to do a different form of exercise every day, for example. Having a goal in place before you set foot out of your door will help you feel much more focused.
Enjoy some early nights. Lack of sleep can increase your desire for food and the pleasure you get from it, making it hard to resist temptation. If you’re tired you’re also less likely to participate in fun family activities, so arrive fully rested and ready for a good time.
How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain While You’re With Family
Be prepared when out of your own kitchen. Airports and service stations may seem packed with unhealthy options, yet eating well is still possible if you know where to look! Sushi is a great alternative to calorific wraps and sandwiches, or grab some cooked skinless chicken, lean ham, or fresh fruit to snack on rather than chips and candy.
Think about the type of situations that often lead you to reach for high-calorie foods and make a plan for when you’re in that situation. For instance, if your mom’s hot chocolate is a family tradition, you could ask her to make your mug with fat free milk and forgo the cream on top.
Eat well on the go by taking a healthy packed lunch with you on day trips, rather than relying on convenience food while you’re out and about.
If everyone’s enjoying a drink, make yours last longer by topping them up with diet mixers or seltzer water, which is especially good for a delicious white wine spritzer! Steer clear of creamy looking cocktails, too, if you want to make more sensible drink choices.
When eating out at a restaurant, try to check out the menu online ahead of time. Look for anything that’s grilled, broiled, or steamed. Ask the kitchen to cook it without oil and to put any sauces on the side.
If you do go off track, it’s tempting to beat yourself up, tell yourself you’ve blown it, and throw in the towel. But don’t allow yourself to sabotage your success — simply put it behind you, get back on track, and feel confident that any weight you’ve gained will come off again.
Yvonne Sanders, Head of Operations for Slimming World in the United States, is an obesity expert, regular speaker at networking events, such as the HRSouthwest Conference, and a frequent guest on both local and national television and radio programs.
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