How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain


‘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

Lessons Learned from My First Mud Run

As a consolation prize for being her maid-of-honor, Kara invited me to run the first annual Lovettsville Fire and Rescue Mud Run with her and her cousins. Since it was our first mud run our goal was not to set a world record, but rather to have fun and let loose after a year of wedding planning. Needless to say, we had a great time getting down and dirty and even surprised ourselves with how many of the obstacles we could do.

As always, I learned a few things for the next time I do a mud run.

  1. Travel Wisely – It’s safe to say that most mud runs are not taking place in your neighborhood. I had to drive an hour towards West Virginia and got completely lost. Leave early, have a GPS with you, or print several different maps. Most likely you’ll be in an area where there’s poor reception too.
  2. Pack a bag – After the race, you’ll likely be hosed down and not have access to a shower. Fill it with: two towels (one for you to immediately dry off with and one to lay on your car seat), a plastic bag for your shoes and other dirty items, extra clothes if you can change, a zip lock bag for your keys and cell phone, and a make up remover cloth. The make up remover cloth will help you freshen up immediately afterwards until you get to a shower.
  3. Wear clothes and shoes you never want to wear again. Even after a wash cycle, my clothes are still slightly muddy.
  4. Wear form fitting clothing. The baggier the clothes, the more likely you’ll be weighed down after a run through the mud pit.  You’ll need all the energy for the obstacles.
  5. Allergies – For those who are allergic to almost everything, take a Zyrtec or any other anti-histamine. I had a nice allergic reaction and rash afterwards 🙂

Have you ever done a mud run? Do you have any tips to share?

Tips for Staying Safe When Exercising Outdoors

We all know the biggest downside to working out in the winter is the lack of sunlight. It’s a struggle to wake up in the morning and work out when it’s still dark outside. It’s a struggle to have the motivation to go to the gym after work when it’s dark outside.

Saturday I was feeling inspired and went for a six mile run outside. It was 50+ degrees so I thought I’d take advantage of the remaining warm days in 2011. The sun set halfway through my run so on the way back, I made sure to run in well lit areas.

Long story short, a man followed me for a few blocks. He was walking and I passed him. As I passed him he said hello, which I ignored as most women do in NYC, and then shortly began to run. Not just run, but run right behind me. Step by step with me. I could his his step in sync with mine. His shadow was right next to mine.

I didn’t confront him. What did I do instead? I ran into traffic and stood in front of a car and waited for him to pass. If this guy was going to do something, I was going to make him do it in front of countless others. He ended up cutting through a few other cars and ran into obscurity.

Whether this guy really was following me or intending to scare me, it got my thinking about safety precautions when one is exercising outdoors. NYC is not a dangerous place. Any New Yorker will tell you they feel safer on the streets of NY than when walking a dog in the suburbs. Wherever you live, here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

  • No Headphones – I realize that it’s painful running in silence for many of you, but it’s also quite peaceful not having noise constantly in my ears. You can hear yourself breathe, the pounding of your feet, the wind blowing, etc. There’s a rhythm to running. Discover yours! Actually, I would strongly encourage you to stay from anything that obstructs your hearing.
  • Cell phone – pretty self explanatory but learn to not be dependent on the cell phone. In a really emergency, you may or may not have a chance to call anyone.
  • Have a game plan – tell someone beforehand where you’ll be going, how far you’ll be running, and how long you expect it will take. If you’re out longer, have him or her check in on you. If you run the same route each time, mark “Safe Zones” where you know you can turn to for help. Perhaps it’s a cafe or deli, or a friend’s apartment you run by each time.
  • No shortcuts – Stay on the path, always.
  • Identification – I  wouldn’t suggest carrying your license or passport with you, but carry something that identifies you. I’m a big fan of the company Road Id. They offer plenty of products that’ll give you some peace of mind when hitting the pavement alone.
  • Buddy Up – it’s hard finding a work out buddy who is at the exact same fitness level. But it’s better to be with someone you know, rather than finding yourself with someone you don’t know.
  • Wear Proper Gear – When working out in the dark, don reflective gear. Really loving this Nike Vapor Flash Jacket but wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • Response Required Words – In a self defense class, I learned that screaming “HELP” or just plain screaming is not always effective. Opt to yell “Fire!” or “Call 911, I’m being attacked.” Don’t hesitate to be descriptive: “I’m being attacked by a tall man with brown hair, wearing a blue t-shirt.”  It will help whoever is making the call to 911.
  • Safety Device – I prefer a noise maker over  mace. Why? I’m a person that believes that any weapon you carry can be used against you. But I won’t lie, I do own mace…just never have carried it.


How do you stay safe when working out? Leave a comment and share your tips!



How a Lean Girl Prepares for Hurricane Irene

Irene is a woman with a problem. I know girls can be catty and b*tchy but never did I expect a lady to ruin my weekend and put NYC on lockdown. Tomorrow I am expecting to run The Surival Race, a 12 obstacle course race in New Windsor, NY. It’s about 60 minutes north of NYC. There will be mud pits, fire pits, rope climbing, etc. My friends and I are super excited and have been training for this day. For Irene to come in and “rain” on our parade is quite nasty of her. So for now, we plan on going up there and coming right back before the storm is expected to hit our area.

As I said, Irene has the city on lockdown and in a scurry. People are emptying shelves at the stores and stocking up on the usual in-case-of-emergency goods: bottled water, canned goods, flash lights, etc. If you take a look a people’s grocery carts at the store, theirs are filled with high-sodium canned beans, chips, bread, and lots of non-perishable foods. Non-perishable in my mind screams highly processed, high in fat and sodium. Let it be known there are ways to stock up without having to buy all canned, boxed and bagged goods. Here’s my shopping/to-do list for Lean Girls preparing for Hurricane Irene:

  • Bottled Water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Candles
  • Nuts (raw almonds and cashews)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Fruit (apples, bananas, peaches)
  • Dried fruit (apples, apricots, raisins, etc)
  • carrots, radishes, turnips (root veggies that don’t have to be refridgerated)
  • Bread
  • almond butter
  • low sugar jelly
  • Oatmeal
  • Pre-make a big pot of brown rice
  • Beans (canned or pre-make from dried beans)
  • Chicken breasts (pre-make them before we lose power!)
  • Canned goods (soup, beans
  • Can opener
  • Wet Wipes
  • Bring in tomato plant
  • Take out trash before storm starts (last thing you want is a stinky home)
  • Fill tub with water (if you lose water, you can scoop the water in the tub to flush the toilet or drink)
  • charge cell phone (until we lose power)
  • Get cash
  • prepare important documents
  • first aid kit
  • utility knife
  • blanket
  • prepare a “GO” bag

For live updates on the Survival Race and the Hurricane, follow me on Twitter:

For more information on how you should plan check out FEMA’s Emergency Preparedness Page:

The Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist:

If you live in NYC and need local updates:

Be safe and well.

xoxo, gracekelle

PS: sorry I couldn’t insert hyperlinks. WordPress is acting up today!




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