Fit and fab

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are overwhelmed by work parties, friendly meet-ups and family gatherings. All of these social events present the perfect opportunity to indulge in more food and alcohol than is customary throughout the year.

The average American will gain anywhere from 1 to 6 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This unwanted weight often sneaks up on people. Rather than deal with this in January, I want to give you a strategic plan to thwart those unwanted pounds.

So, to get a head start on everyone else, practice these proven strategies to stay fit and trim over the holidays:

  1. Water -- drink half your body weight in ounces per day. That may seem like a lot, but the proper amount of water will help flush toxins from your system and prevent water retention by ridding your body of excess salt.
  2. Eat a small meal or apple before the holiday party. Ideally, the mini-meal should consist of carbohydrates and protein about 60 minutes prior to heading to your holiday party. This will help regulate your blood sugar and prevent overeating when you arrive. Eating an apple 30 minutes prior to the party works as well. The fiber in the apple helps to satiate you and reduce overindulgence.
  3. Learn to politely say "no" to certain social gatherings. While I am not advocating being a Scrooge or anti-social, it may be in your best interests to avoid certain gatherings that you know will involve an unhealthy environment. Or, you could skip the second party on a particular night.
  4. Choose a smaller plate at gatherings and parties. You will be able to place less food on your plate, yet visually it will seem as if you still have a lot of food. This may seem counterintuitive, but it works.
  5. Avoid putting out candy and nut dishes. The number one way to limit your intake of goodies is to limit your access. Traditional dishes placed out in the open at home or in the office make it tempting and easy to take handfuls throughout the day. These calories add up in a big way.
  6. Routinely eat 3-5 times per day. This helps maintain a steadier blood sugar level and reduces the urge to really dig in at night when most activities occur. The idea that skipping breakfast and lunch will allow you to have more at dinner is a myth. Skipping meals only slows metabolism -- not something any woman really wants. Healthy snacks between the three major meals will keep energy levels up and hunger down as well.
  7. Go to bed on time throughout the week. While it may seem like you have too much to do, burning the midnight oil typically opens the door to late night snacking and also reduces energy levels over time. If you feel lethargic during the day, you may also be apt to turn to more sugar based food or caffeine for artificial energy.
  8. Minimize dining out. The shopping season makes it more convenient to dine out. Try to limit this to no more than 1-2 times/week and continue preparing your meals at home, where it is much easier to control serving size and food preparation.
  9. Plan your exercise and do not skip workouts. This time of the year is busy and stressful. People tend to take time off from the gym in lieu of shopping and other activities. It is more important now than ever to perform regular strength training 2-3 times/week to stay in shape.
  10. Perform extra cardiovascular exercise. Inevitably, you will consume more calories than usual at some point along the way. A few extra sessions on the treadmill, bike or elliptical goes a long way in minimizing the potential damage done by excess holiday eating.

Brian Schiff, owner of Fitness Edge, is a nationally-known sports and fitness training expert, specializing in injury prevention and return to play for professional and amateur athletes of all ages. Fitness Edge now offers Adventure Boot Camp for Women in Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington and Grove City.