You may swear that the ubiquitous holiday cookies were Heaven sent, the holiday chocolates divine.
Are your willpower dissolving, your waistline expanding, and your blood sugar rising just thinking about this season’s delectable goodies?
What about the guilt factor? You may find yourself eating a little bit extra here and there, and as a result, your blood sugars may not be as good as you know they should be?
Maybe you’re rationalizing it by saying that you’ll do better in the New Year – just add it to your long list of resolutions you’re promising to keep in 2019.
Well, I’m here to tell you to lose the guilt and the resolutions! You can keep the extra weight off and keep your blood sugars under control even without passing up on all of the goodies. Here are some tips to help you keep your holidays merry.
Tip #1: Return to your hunter-gatherer roots
Add more physical movement into your daily life. People who simply increase their physical activity during everyday activities are just as successful at preventing weight gain as those who engage in more formal daily exercise.
So, you don’t have to resolve to join a gym or a fitness center to take off excess holiday pounds; simply prevent yourself from getting them in the first place by limiting your sedentary activities.
For example, if you’re going to indulge in some holiday goodies, make yourself walk to get them (i.e., don’t keep them on your desk in front of you).
Moreover, while you’re eating one slowly (and savoring each bite), stand up and walk around rather than sitting down.
Tip #2: Taking more steps every day keeps the calories at bay
For every extra calorie you consume during the holiday season, add 20 steps to your day. The equivalent of a mile is roughly 2,000 steps, and for most people, walking a mile expends 100 to 150 calories (depending on your body weight).
At 100 calories per mile, walking 500 extra steps would expend about 25 calories, which would negate the calories contained in about one half of a typical holiday cookie. Add those steps in whenever and wherever you can.
Tip #3: Forget the long lines for the elevator – take the stairs instead
In fact, you can even take the stairs instead of the elevator or the escalator while doing your holiday shopping.
Walking up a flight of stairs can expend 5 to 10 calories, depending on your body weight and the number of stairs you climb. If going up is too hard, start by walking down (but keep in mind that going downstairs typically expends one-third of the energy).
If you have stairs in your home, you can do the same thing by frequently going up and down them an extra time or two (or three) whenever you have the chance.
Tip #4: Do some window shopping as well
Walk up and down the shopping mall an extra time or two, carrying all of your gift-filled bags – the more the better.
Adding in the additional mileage, especially when carrying some extra weight, will help you expend extra energy while accomplishing your pressing holiday errands.
Also, park at the far end of the mall parking lot and walk the extra distance to and from your car.
Tip #5: Use your saved time wisely by being more active
If you let your fingers do the shopping (on the Internet, via phone, or through holiday catalog shopping), take the time you saved and exercise instead.
Take the dog out for a walk around the block. Go to your local Y, community center, fitness club, or other exercise facility and participate in an exercise class.
Even yoga and t’ai chi expend extra energy and help relieve pent-up holiday stress and anxiety.
Tip #6: Lift your holiday goodies a few extra times before you eat any of them
Do some resistance training with your treats to put them to really good use. Anything will do: a plate full of holiday cookies, a pumpkin pie, your frozen turkey, the Christmas ham.
If you have some light weights around the house, grab them as well and lift them as many times as you can.
For a greater challenge, you can always try lifting your children or grandchildren. Building more muscle mass with weightlifting will also make your body expend more calories around the clock.
Tip #7: Stuff the turkey, not yourself
Exercise your willpower enough to pass on at least some of the holiday edible temptations. I’m certainly not saying that you can’t eat any of the scrumptious, tempting holiday fares, just that you need to exercise some self-control and eat a little less of it.
Use your remaining strength to push yourself away from the table before you are as stuffed as the hapless turkey. Wait at least 10 to 20 minutes for “seconds” to allow adequate time for your first helping to settle in your stomach.
Tip #8: Half as much as twice as good
Abstinence rarely works long-term, and it makes you feel like you’re missing the celebration. So, don’t skip all of the holiday treats. Instead, take half of your usual serving of dessert and eat it twice as slowly as you normally do. I promise that you’ll feel just as satisfied in the end and much less guilt-ridden (and who needs more guilt during the holidays?).
Tip #9: Banish the holiday blues forever
‘Anxiety and depression affect many of us during the holiday season. One good way to banish the blues is to follow these tips to keep your blood sugars and your waistline in check during the holidays.
Another way to banish them is to help others. So, share these helpful tips with everyone you know or meet (whether he or she has diabetes or not), and everyone will end up healthier and less in need of a diet or healthy resolutions when the New Year rolls around.
Tip #10: Finally, don’t stop following these tips after the holidays are over
Apply any or all of them to the non-holiday season as well to live a healthier, happier, and more fit life. Keep in mind that good ol’ Saint Nick didn’t get that big belly he has just by overindulging and lazing around during the holidays!
For more information on all of the mental benefits of physical activity, please consult my book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.