Keeping Your Body in Check During the Holidays

Yes, I’m “that” girl. The second I see pumpkin flavored anything advertised at Starbucks and stores discounting summer clothes to make room for scarves, boots and sweaters I get so happy! Why? It only means one thing. FALL!

I love the fall because it leads into my two favorite holidays: Halloween and Christmas. However, one bad thing that everyone is fully aware of that comes with this time of year is the calories and carbs. Candy corn, caramel apples, pumpkin bread and lattes, cornbread dressing, pecan and apple pies. Oh and did I mention the fudge, egg nog, gingerbread cookies (and houses!), candy canes and peppermint mochas that come later on at Christmas time? All of that sounds so good but a bit overwhelming for your waistline. It’s good to enjoy those special once-a-year treats in moderation, but there are also ways you can help to keep that weight down by making smarter choices with food consumption and in physical activities during this festive season.

First, think about these smarter food swaps that you can make: 1. White over dark meat. Thinking about that delicious turkey you’re about to eat for Thanksgiving? When the big day rolls around, choose white meat over dark meat. White has fewer calories and fat as dark meat. 2. Skip the gravy. I know, it’s tempting to slather some gravy on that turkey...and maybe everything else on your plate. 3. Dressing. Enough said, right? Surprisingly if you bake the dressing by itself and not stuffed into your turkey you can cut calories in half. 4. Opt for baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. The calorie cut in these compared to mashed potatoes or candied sweet potatoes can make all the difference! 5. Desert time! Did you know apple pie has a little over half of the calories as pecan pie? Try to make that swap if you can. However, pumpkin pie is probably your best option for pie, as it is the option with less crust (less crust=less carbs). 5. If you’re like me, you looooove your hot drinks during the cold season and have to take that trip to Starbucks when you do your holiday shopping. Order “skinny" instead. You can pretty much get any drink at Starbucks skinny which means sugar free syrup and your choice of skim or soy milk in place of whole milk. I always order my drinks skinny, they usually taste the same with more than half of the calories! 6. With holidays come holiday parties, which is basically another word for “buffet.” If you know you’re going to be at a party that will be serving a lot of food, DON’T skip breakfast. Starting your day off with a hearty breakfast will help you not overeat later on. Especially do this on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning when you know you’re going to be eating more than normal throughout the day. You won’t be as tempted to overeat/pick on things during the day before the big meal comes around because you won't be starving. 7. Alcohol. I mean, you can’t be festive without having some wine in the mix, right? People often forget how many calories are contained in alcoholic beverages. To help alleviate weight gain (and hangovers!), try to drink a small glass of water in between every drink you have.

Now, it’s time to look at some physical activities that can help you burn some of those holiday treats. There are some surprising ways that you can accomplish this. Some may not seem like much but it really does make a difference, even if just a little bit. I know that many jobs start to get busy at the end of the year. Quotas have to be met, deadlines have to be made. If you work in retail the rush starts in October and doesn't end until after December. It can be a bit overwhelming and you often don’t feel like hitting the gym at the end of the day, especially after hours of overtime. 1. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, get up every half hour and spend about 5 minutes doing some squats, lunges, jumping jacks or even just some simple stretches. Keep those muscles alive and awake! On a conference call or just making a phone call? Put it on speaker and pace back and forth. Even better, do your exercises! Try not to sit at your desk as much as possible. 2. I worked in retail for five years so that means I had to work five holiday seasons standing for eight hours almost every day behind a cash register or climbing a ladder in the stock room. Since I was standing at a counter all day, I would often do some calf raises or stretches against the counter in between customers. It definitely made me feel great by the end of my shift! 3. Unless you’re an online shopper, Christmas means frequently hitting the mall. When knocking out your holiday shopping, try to park as far away from the store as you can (unless it’s at night). Just those few extra steps from the car to the door will still have you working. 4. Always opt for stairs. Especially at shopping malls and two-three story department stores. Try to avoid the escalator/elevator! 5. Go for a post-dinner walk! This season is perfect for walks right before dark when the weather gets a little cooler. Personally, I love to walk my dog around longer distances during this season. She loves the exercise she gets outside of my cramped apartment and we both LOVE the cooler weather!

You didn't think I’d end without saying to continue coming to +BEYOND right?? Your fitness associates will always be here to encourage you and help answer any questions that you might have about fitness or other tips like these that I have mentioned. Don’t forget to participate in our monthly plank challenges as well!

Happy fall, y'all! Lauren