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Have you noticed that the majority of holiday gatherings involve a combination of (1) eating the most decadent array of treats from prosciutto and gruyere palmiers to pumpkin gooey butter cakes and (2) toasting in the celebrations with delicious holiday beverages ranging from Grandpa’s secret White Minx Cocktail to Toasted Marshmallow milkshakes for the kids (and kids at heart!). Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these tasty treats. But, it is no wonder that weight gain ranks as one of the top stressors of the holiday season.

So before we even start with food advice, let’s all make a pact to arrange festive gatherings with friends and family that are reliant on activities instead of eating and drinking. Watch for Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout and Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Out of the House Activities for the Big Day, in the up-coming DIAKADI 12 Days of Fitness for some great ideas on creating new traditions centered around active holiday events.

Now, some advice on surviving the Holiday Hunger Games.

HOLIDAY COCKTAILS

Let's start right off with the booze. First up, if you are trying to have the healthiest and happiest of holidays, I recommend that clients eliminate the alcohol or keep the drinking to a minimum. Maybe set yourself the goal of no alcohol during weeknight events. Not only are there extra calories involved, but since your body processes alcohol first, this leaves the carbohydrates and fats you consume to be stored as fat instead of being used as fuel. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions and lessens your ability to make smart decisions on food and drink later that night.

Then add the sluggishness and bloating in to the mix and the jolly meter definitely starts dropping, and often so do your workouts.

But also be realistic, it is the holidays... When you get stuck talking to your Uncle Jack about the exact details of the past 2 months of weather patterns back home in Oklahoma or when trying to choke down your Aunt Fannie's award winning Christmas ambrosia salad with Miracle Whip, a cup of holiday cheer might be the perfect solution.  So plan for it and keep these thoughts in mind when making decisions on what to drink.

CLEAN ALCOHOL RANKINGS

1st: Wine or liquor straight up at 100 cal/drink. Personally, I think champagne is the perfect holiday choice. From the cork pop to every last bubble, nothing says celebrate better and cleaner.

2nd: Liquor with clean, minimal mixers at 100-200 cal/ drink. Flavored vodka and soda water are always great choices here.image

3rd: Beer at 100-300 cal/drink, but remember that these pack a big gluten bloat along with them.

4th: The grand array of mixed drinks packing 300-600 cal / drink. Absolutely avoid sugary drinks and mixers, especially crappy processed, prepackaged ones. Cheap alcohol and mixers are the perfect recipe for a restless night's sleep followed by hangover hell. For mixers, only use the best, fresh squeezed ingredients in creating your libations. Plus the clean ingredients will help keep your hangover to a minimum. Want to be the host with the most healthy and unique concoctions? Check out the drink mixing class at SF Mixology or the fun hands on classes at the Bourbon and Branch Beverage Academy.

Also, pace yourself. As my friend Malcolm says, "It is a marathon not a sprint." Always try to alternate alcohol, water, alcohol, water.  If drinking 'boring water' between cocktails is tough, order a Pelligrino with lime squeeze as your re-hydrator ‘between drink’. Trust me, you will be thankful the next morning.

[one_half]"Why not decide to make this the year where you actually feel great about your life and body as you head into the New Year by buckling down now and getting ahead of the game?"[/one_half]

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THE HOLIDAY FEAST

For food and beverages, there are two main guidelines I recommend to clients: 1- Track and 2- Plan.

TRACK YOUR FOOD and drinks every day during the holidays. No matter how ugly it may get, track every meal, each Starbucks PSL, each incredible hand crafted bite of deliciousness you choose from the trays passed at your friend’s holiday gala, every piece of that damn peppermint bark in the break room at work, and definitely every glass of champagne. Myfitnesspal, Meal Logger and EatingFree are all smart and easy ways to keep track of your intake, food group ratios and calories using your computer or smart phone. (Of course a pencil and paper work just fine as well.) Simply having to track all food and drink, then looking at the amounts will help keep you aware of the damage and will assist you in making smart decisions each day.

PLAN AHEAD for dangerous parties and unhealthy family meals. Whenever possible, offer to bring

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a healthy dish with you to events so that you have control over at least some of the food choices. If you are headed in to a big dinner or party, for a couple of days leading up to it, eat a little less fat each day in order to balance out for the extra fat and alcohol you will be consuming at the big event. Have several nights of parties in a row, reduce your ‘day-of’ fat and calorie intake for breakfast and lunch to bank for each evening’s festivities. Also try eating a healthy meal before heading into events, to help balance out your alcohol and to avoid over eating the pass around finger foods. A chunky salad with some protein and a quality starch like sweet potatoes or quinoa is always great pre-party fuel for me.

 

CHOICES, CHOICES! Your smartest selections off the buffet or trays are foods that are quality meats like salami, chicken skewers, or prosciutto. Grab the low sugar, low glycemic index choices like stuffed mushrooms or endive salad pick-ups. These will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and to keep your cravings in check. The earlier you make the mistake of boarding that Holiday Sugar Energy Roller Coaster, the longer that damn ride is and the harder it is to get off of it, often leading into the following week. If you are going to grab sweets, get super small tastes of them and try to set a limit up front in your head.

[one_half]"The earlier you make the mistake of boarding that Holiday Sugar Energy Roller Coaster, the longer that damn ride is and the harder it is to get off of it, often leading into the following week."[/one_half]

FOCUSED MAINTENANCE = GOOD, EXCUSE TO LET IT ALL GO = BAD. Once again, I return to the reminder to be realistic. Depending on your lifestyle, the holidays can be an impossible time to lose weight, especially for you social butterflies. Be aware of your life and your abilities so that you do not set yourself up for failure. If one of your typical holiday traditions is to gain 5-10 lbs every year between Thanksgiving and New Years, a goal of simply maintaining current body fat levels may be just right and plenty challenging for you. At the same time, do not use the holidays as your excuse to under achieve. Why not decide to make this the year where you actually feel great about your life and body as you head into the New Year by buckling down now and getting ahead of the game?

GO TEAM! Having a supportive partner or team mate (friend, relative, spouse) to set goals with, check in with, party hop with, and share challenging office party stories with is always a great help when aiming your sights on achieving difficult holiday health improvements.

TRAVELLING A LOT DURING THE HOLIDAYS?  Worried about finding healthy foods during transport or back home in Inorganicaville, NC?  Keep an eye out for Day 5: Planes, Trains and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go. We have some great tips headed your way.

I do have one final piece of advice, and it is honestly the most important rule I have for you concerning holiday party survival. It is so vital in fact that it deserves it’s own blog post. So it will be revealed tomorrow on Day 3: The Rule of 80/20. Stay tuned!

 

HOLIDAY PARTY SURVIVAL TIPS REVIEW:

  1. Realistic and reachable personal goals for your holiday food plan are key
  2. A strong support team always helps
  3. Smart decisions around alcohol consumption
  4. Make an effort to plan ahead
  5. Track your holiday intake
  6. Be choosy with the ‘treats’ you partake in at parties
  7. Final piece of advice to come tomorrow in Day 3

And may the scale be ever in your favor!

Bon appetit!

 

DIAKADI's The 12 Days of Fitmas: Welcoming the holidays and year’s end as a time for relaxation and celebration, The 12 Days of Fitmas will teach people to take the time to enjoy the fun of the season, while reflecting on the year and looking forward to the year ahead. The series tackles the biggest problems that many face: stress, holiday parties, eating well, preparing for the New Year, and more.

“The holidays tend to be one of the most challenging times of the year for our clients,” says Billy Polson. “The stress, over-booked schedules, party foods, alcohol and travel plans wreak havoc on their workouts and their bodies. The 12 Days of Fitmas are our effort to help people not only survive the holidays, but thrive throughout them.”

Through The 12 Days of FitmasDIAKADI will demonstrate the belief that fitness is about far more than dead lifts, burpees and the spin class. Rather, fitness and health encompass all aspects of one’s lifestyle including sleep schedules, stress levels, deep breaths, proper fuel for the body, and enjoying life every day. DIAKADI will use video to demonstrate topics like “Ultimate Destination Workout,” ensuring that whether one is at a beginning or an advanced level, they will learn proper form and technique for the perfect workout regardless of location. The principals discussed in the series will be applicable beyond the holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Originally published at Patch.com.

Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year: Managing Holiday Stress Day 2: The Holiday Hunger Games: Holiday Party Survival Tips Day 3: The 80/20 Rule: By Damn, Enjoy the Holidays Day 4: Healthy Holiday Recipes that Don’t Suck Day 5: Planes, Trains, and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go Day 6: Travel Stretches to Make Coach Feel Like First Class Day 7: Grandma Got Run Over by the Holiday Cold: Staying Healthy for the Holidays Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout: Anytime, Anywhere, No Equipment Necessary Day 9: Silent Night: How to Stay Rested Throughout the Holidays Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Getting Off the Couch and Out of the House for the Big Day Day 11: Start the New Year Off with a Bang Not a Bust: Do What You Love this New Year’s Day 12: When the Clock Strikes Midnight: Successfully Setting and Reaching Your New Year’s Goals

 

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