Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

8 Tips to Survive the Holidays

Well, it's that time of year again, I can't believe how fast 2011 has come and gone. End of year festivities are a great time for everyone to get together with friends and family to celebrate, regardless of your race, gender, religion, etc.

At this time of year, with all of the holiday get-togethers, parties, lunches, dinners, etc. many people tend to want to "indulge" a little more than they usually do. First of all, let me say that I also like to enjoy some holidays treats here and there, but don't ever try and lie to yourself and say that this is the only time of year that you get to "cheat" on your diets, as many of us have little cheats throughout the year.

Regardless of all that, I have detailed a list below of some tips and tricks that I use to try and limit my holiday splurging. Hopefully you can take at least one, if not a few of this tips and use them while you are enjoying this holiday season.

Alternate With Water

Many people like to kick back and enjoy a holiday cocktail. Whatever your beverage of choice may be, try and alternate your drinks with a glass of water. How does this work? Well, lets say you get to a party and crack open a nice cold beer. Sounds good doesn't it? Well, nobody should avoid this treat, just don't go overboard. Not only that, after you finish your beer, go have a quick glass of water before you reach for a second beer. If your holiday party ends up going late into the night, not only will the water in between each drink help with your hangover the next day, but hopefully it will help your belly fill up a bit faster and will prevent you from drinking too much.

Eat Before You Go

Let's face it, you will be pretty hard-pressed to find yourself at a party that doesn't have trays full of "indulgences". In today's society, those who host parties know that they won't be much of a host if they didn't offer tasty, delicious, (albeit, unhealthy), foods. Now we could argue that this is the way society has shaped us, but that can be for another discussion. You just know there are going to be treats at that party you are going to, and that's fine. Try this; before you go, make sure you enjoy a healthy, belly-filling snack/meal at home. Aim for things packed with fiber, protein, or healthy fats to shove down your throat before you walk out your door. This way, your stomach should be feeling nice and full before you reach the party so that you are not wanting to absolutely pig out when you reach your destination.

Be That Guy/Girl

When you are speaking with the party host, ask if you can bring something with you to the party. If they insist you don't bring anything, refer to the previous tip to fill-up on healthy snacks before you leave the house. If, however, they ask you to bring some snacks, offer to bring a veggie tray. Yes, when you arrive, I am sure you will probably get some comments from somebody that wants to know who the lame one was who brought the "rabbit food". Again, due to societal pressures, most people know that vegetables tend to not go over as well as "pigs in blankets" so you are bound to receive a wise-crack from someone. By being that person to bring veggies gives you a perfect opportunity to snack on something healthy while at the party. Not only that, if you alternate something healthy with something not-so-healthy, you also avoid the risk of filling up on something that really isn't all that good for you!

No Need to Fill Your Plate

We all see it, dinner is set, all of the guests sit at the table, then the madness ensues. People pile food onto every square inch of their plate. Then, when they run out of room on their plate, there is only one place to go, and that's up, so they pile food on top of their other food. That's enough right? Wrong, then they pour nice, fatty gravy over everything so that they have one heaping mound of crap. Why not try this; aim to put food on your plate in proper proportions for your body size and type (refer to your daily calorie expenditure) and aim to have lots of your plate still visible by the end. Not only that, but why not try and limit your gravy coverage. I never understood the need to cover everything with gravy, then it all tastes the same. Instead, use gravy sparingly here and there, and enjoy all of the flavors of your meal!

Eat Slowly

This is not a race. Chances are, you may be seeing certain family and/or friends that you may not have seen all year, so why not enjoy their company. Eat slowly, enjoy conversation with those around you and just generally enjoy the holidays. There is no need to have someone cook the holiday feast all day for it to be over your lips and in your gut within 5 minutes, so slow down! This allows you to enjoy the tastes and flavors of the meal as well as help you consume much less.

Stay Away From "Seconds"

Or for that matter, thirds! If you followed the previous tip, you should be nice and full by the time you are done eating. If you did eat a bit too fast, try and avoid seconds for a while. It tends to take about 20 minutes for the message to go from your stomach to your brain to tell it that you are sufficiently full, so don't go rushing to grab a second helping. Instead, refer to the points below.

Absolutely Try Your Best to Avoid Dessert

Again, I think because of the way our society has shaped, we seem to think it is a great idea to follow a tremendously high-calorie meal with something even more calorie-dense. If at all costs, try and avoid dessert. If you absolutely must, take at least a half of a serving compared to everyone else around you, as chances are, they are taking more than enough for themselves.

Go For a Walk

 This is when its great to have a dog, as you can use him/her as an reason to excuse yourself from the dinner table to take Rex for a walk outside. Even if you don't have a dog, I still recommend a fairly brisk walk. No, it certainly won't be enough to "burn off" all of those calories you just took in, despite what Uncle Joe may think, but it certainly won't hurt. Plus, it carries with it a number of other benefits. Remember the point I made earlier about it taking 20 minutes for the signal to go from your stomach to your brain that you are full? A walk is a perfect opportunity to get outside and walk around the block while that signal gets sent. If you get back from the walk and truly are still hungry (I will be very surprised if you are), then go grab a small slice of apple pie. Plus, its nice to go for a walk to "let some steam off"...if ya know what I mean!

As I said before, the holidays can be a great time of year to indulge a little bit and enjoy ringing in the New Year, but just don't let things get out of hand!

-Tyler Robbins