Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Commandments of Holiday Weight Control

The 10 Commandments of Holiday Weight Control

Do you tell yourself each year, "Thou shalt not gain a million pounds by January"? This time, you can keep that vow -- if you follow these 10 rules.

We are now entering what I call the fitness danger zone, where there is temptation all around us -- office parties, family celebrations, annual neighborhood get-togethers. This year is going to be different, though, because you will be prepared. You can start the New Year still fitting into your slimmest slacks by following these very simple, very important guidelines.

I Thou shalt step on the scale once a week. It will tell you if you are on or off your plan. Basic rule: same scale, same time, same day of the week. I like the Monday morning weigh-in because it allows you to start each week in possession of the facts. If you see you've gained, use that as motivation to try harder in the coming days.

II Thou shalt not skip thy workouts. Exercise burns calories and helps you control your weight -- but only if you work out on a regular basis. During stressful holiday times, it's tempting to abandon your routine, but in truth, this is the worst time of year to skimp. Do whatever is necessary to stick to it. (What do you mean you don't have a routine? Well then, try this

III Honor thy need for sweets. Go ahead, have a goody. Just keep it small. Take a few bites of the pie or tart filling and skip the high-calorie crust. Nibble on two or three Christmas cookies or relish a small bowl of berries and a tiny piece of chocolate. Savor your treat by eating slowly, and the taste will go a long way.

IV Thou shalt never say, "I blew it at lunch, so I may as well pig out at dinner." All right, you had a celebratory lunch with a few friends. You drank some wine, visited the bread basket and shared a dessert. All told, you've taken in an extra 500 to 600 calories. And if you follow through with a no-holds-barred dinner, you turn that 500- to 600-calorie infraction into a huge 1,500- to 1,600-calorie debacle -- which is a 1,000-calorie difference. Forgive yourself for the slip and go back to your plan of moderate, healthy eating.

V Thou shalt prepare thyself for partying by taking the edge off thy hunger. Before leaving the house, eat a small amount of lean protein -- such as yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey, chicken, salmon or water-packed tuna. This way, you won't be seduced by all those incredibly rich, caloric hors d'oeuvres. When you get to the party, stick with the fresh shrimp, crudités or chicken saté and steer well clear of the dipping sauce. (For the record, skipping any kind of sauce will generally save you hundreds, if not thousands, of calories.)

VI Thou shalt go easy at the buffet table. Go up and survey the spread first. Fill up on a plate of fresh fruits or vegetables, and then choose tiny tastes of your favorite foods. Try not to chat too close to the buffet, so you're not tempted to consume absentmindedly.

VII Thou shalt keep thy body properly hydrated. Salty holiday foods, pressurized airplane cabins and forced-air heat dry you out. Skip the soda and juice (which are loaded with calories) and go for good old H2O.

VIII Thou shalt make sensible substitutions in thy favorite holiday dishes. Bake plain sweet potatoes and forgo the butter. Substitute skim milk for whole, half-and-half for heavy cream in soups and bisques, and nonfat sour cream for dips. Try low-fat broth instead of fat-based mixtures for basting meats. Use chopped vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, fennel) instead of butter or sausage to moisten stuffing; cook it outside the bird.

IX Thou shalt always include a steamed vegetable at holiday meals. Even if it is just for you (though I'll bet many of your guests will have some, too), steam a big head of broccoli or cauliflower. Green beans are great, too, as are baby carrots, which fill you up.

X Thou shalt not hoard leftovers. Keep the meat, the baked sweet potatoes, the veggies and the salad. Send the high-calorie goodies home with guests or give them to a homeless shelter.

4 Plan-Ahead Tricks

The key to holiday weight control is having a strategy.

  1. When a friend invites you to a big dinner, ask to bring hors d'oeuvres. Take a platter of raw vegetables with a low-cal dip or some fresh steamed shrimp. That way, you know there will be at least a few appetizers that you can safely eat.
  2. If you're slated for a big holiday lunch with office pals, plan to have a simple salad and some water-packed tuna for dinner that night. The lean and light meal will balance out your day.
  3. Set up your shopping schedule so you hit the mall with a full stomach; the last thing you need is to graze your way from store to store. Or, carry a small healthy snack -- yogurt or fruit, string cheese, or protein shake -- with you.
  4. Don't get caught up in the holiday frenzy. If there are too many parties, decline a few. If all the shopping stress is causing you to overeat, talk to your family about ways to make this year less chaotic. The more open and honest you are with yourself and with family and friends, the more smoothly you'll sail through all the temptations of the season.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Interesting Fact!

Last year the nonpartisan Trust for America's Health, in Washington D.C., released a study concluding that every dollar invested in things like promoting physical activity and improving food choices yielded $5 in health-care savings! When are we going to wake up? If people are alive longer, won't insurance companies make more money off them?