How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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‘Tis the season for holiday parties, gingerbread men, and cocktails. It may be fun to celebrate the past year of successes with a night of splurging but don’t compromise the hard work you’ve put into your body all year. Here are some tips for staying lean this holiday season and avoiding the holiday party blubber.

1. Eat Dinner. Most holiday parties are in the evenings so folks starve themselves and “save” their calories. But that will slow your metabolism and you’ll be more likely to over eat at the party. Be fashionably late by grabbing a healthy dinner beforehand. You’ll have less room for the junk if you load up on lean protein and veggies. Tell your host/ess you’ll be late and that you will have already eaten dinner. Telling someone will also hold you accountable from stuffing yourself. Also, arriving late also ensures that everyone will have sampled all the dishes. By the time you get there they’ll be sure to tell you what you absolutely “must” try.

2. Bring something you’ll snack on. Chances are there will be a crudités platter at the party but bring something else that’s healthy that you would want to eat and that others would too. Show others that eating clean and healthy is not boring by bringing fruit dipped in dark chocolate or homemade hummus. My friend Bri makes an amazing fruit drizzle.

3. Pick 2. Allow yourself two treats for the night. Something sweet and something savory. Maybe it’s a drink and a dessert? Or an appetizer and dessert? Or just two desserts. Select the two most delectable things you absolutely must try. Skip the items you “could” eat any other day and indulge in seasonal or “special” foods.

4. Size matters. Use the small, cocktail plate and not the dinner plate. It will trick your brain into think you’ve eaten more than you think.

5. Clear liquids. Stick with seltzer, vodka, or champagne as they have the fewest calories. Nothing is more celebratory than a bubbly drink.

6. Limit alcohol. Stick with the “two” rule. Have two drinks max. The more alcohol you intake the more likely your inhibition drops and you’ll cave into poor choices. Tell yourself you must drink a glass of water or seltzer after every non-water drink. Not only will you curb any cravings but you’ll be hydrated and less bloated than others the next day. Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with not drinking. Pour yourself a seltzer with a lime slice and no one will know the difference.

7. Meet everyone. Meeting new people and talking to everyone will keep you preoccupied and less likely to nibble. Make a point to leave the party having made two new connections, or learned something new about old friends.

8. Plan something for early the next day. Schedule a session with your trainer or run a race the day after the party. You’ll be less likely to overindulge or stay later than necessary and be tempted by junk food if you know you have to get up early the next morning.

9. Wear a form fitting dress. You’ll not only look great but You’ll be more aware of your body and less likely to indulge if you’re wearing a form fitting dress. Boyfriend jeans and a t-shirt will make you feel relaxed and give room for your belly to expand. Besides, you should be dressed up for the party anyway.

10. Remember that you have fitness goals. While it’s great to celebrate the season with a drink or yummy goody, remember that you don’t want to set yourself back and start 2013 with the weight you had originally lost in 2012. If you haven’t lost any weight this year, remind yourself of your goals in 2013. If health or weight loss is one of them, start now rather than waiting for January 1. We are not promised tomorrow so start living the life you want today!

Share your tips. What are some tricks that have worked for you?

photo credit: Hotels Unlimited Banquets

Post-Thanksgiving Detox

I don’t regret all the starchy, fatty things I ate during Thanksgiving. Not one bit. Not even the red velvet pancakes I made from scratch (I’ll be sharing the LGC recipe next week). I didn’t over do it this Thanksgiving, but I do feel a bit puffy from eating out of my normal regiment.

If you feel the same, the good news is that you still have time to do something about it. The puffiness is usually a result of the excess salt, starch, and sugar that retains water. It’s not permanent unless you let it be!

To help get rid of that holiday bloat and get back into your regularly fancy and fit self, join me in detoxing. I started this week and I promise it gets better by Day 3, which is today for me. Usually Day 1 is the hardest for me because breads and sugary goodness (and wine) seem to chase me down the halls, call me name, pin me down, and insert themselves into my mouth. I can’t help it!

To be clear, a detox is not a cleanse. I’m not drinking my food for the next week. I’m just eating clean, which means protein, lots of clean veggies, and a grain. I need a grain. You may not think you need the carbs, but I do in order to push myself in my workouts.

I personally love green juices after a weekend of gluttony. They’re quite purifying, especially one that’s made with kale, spinach, carrot, lemon juice, and ginger. Mmmm.

Are you detoxing this week? How’s it going? Let me know and I’ll make sure to check in on you!

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On Quora and Cravings

My sister is pregnant, and I’m the one craving peanut butter.

No, seriously. That’s all I want to eat. I’m not saying I’m sitting down with a spoon and a jar of peanut butter, like, LET’S DO THIS THING, but I’m finding ways to work the ingredient into a number of meals: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter smoothies, peanut butter and apples, peanut butter and bananas, cornflakes mixed in peanut butter and sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt.

I seriously am craving peanut butter. And, until recently, I couldn’t put my finger on why (more on that later).

I have this idea that my body craves the foods it needs. I don’t often have cravings, and when I do, it generally is for something I don’t often eat, like red meat or, you know, peanut butter.

But I think I got this idea from a Gwen Shamblin book.

Shamblin is the self-proclaimed “pioneer of faith-based weight loss” (and “the permanent solution to ALL addictions,” emphasis mine, but a grandiose claim which should set off some alarm bells right there). She is a very tiny woman with very big hair, but, so far as I can tell, she is not a doctor. She is a registered dietician. She also is the founder of The Weigh Down Workshop, Weigh Down Ministries and a church outside Nashville, as well as the “million-selling” author of “The Weigh Down Diet” (1997), “Rise Above” (2000) and several other books.

It’s “The Weigh Down Diet” I read in college. And — if memory serves me correct, because this doesn’t appear to have found a permanent home on my bookshelf — the premise was to eat only when you’re really hungry, and then eat what it is your body is telling you it really wants. Then stop eating when you’re full. And pray.

The eat-what-it-is-your-body-is-telling-you-it-really-wants part got me thinking, maybe there is something in peanut butter my body is trying to tell me it really needs. Protein, perhaps? I’ve recently stepped up my working out, and I’m not much of a voracious meat-eater.

Still not sold on Shamblin’s story (I’m a journalist, after all, and a tough sell), I decided to take the question of cravings to Quora.

Quora, to put it in terms everybody should understand, is like Facebook Questions without the Facebook, in the same way Twitter is like Facebook Statuses. It appeals to all us journalists, who, by nature and necessity, like to ask questions. It gives others the opportunity to position themselves as experts in their chosen fields with their insightful answers to related questions. And it got a lot of buzz at the end of 2010 as The New Twitter and THE Social Media Site Of The Year, which has led to equal buzz and speculation about when Quora will be dumbed-down and overcome by all the new users jumping on the latest fad.

That day has come.

I posted the question, “Do people crave certain foods because their body needs the nutrients in those foods?”

And here’s the answer I got, from somebody who actually purports to be a doctor and, moreover, a psychiatrist:

It’s not because your body needs the ingredients of peanut butter. It’s because peanut butter has become a substitute for being loved, soothed, and rewarded. It is all an illusion; a harmless one if you don’t eat too much, a harmful one if it is part of the pattern of emotional eating.

(Pause.)

I have three responses to that response:

  1. AHAHAHAHAHA.
  2. Funny, I thought razzing strangers on the Internet was a substitute for being loved, soothed and rewarded.
  3. What is it with (some) men and thinking everything is always emotional with women and all about how we need to be placated because our lack of a penis makes our lives feel so unfulfilling all the time?

And, finally, I have the answer to why I’m craving peanut butter: One of my friends wisely pinpointed the start of the peanut butter thing to when I recently started taking The Pill. Which tricks your body into behaving as if it already were pregnant. And pregnant women crave things.

I did find a thoughtful answer to the question “Why do pregnant women have food cravings?” on Quora. And, as it turns out, CNN has a report on how peanut butter is really good for your heart.