By Jodie Lynn
If you are wondering how to keep a healthy heart and stay fit during the holidays, avoid gaining weight and nine hundred other traps during this busy, but loaded down with obligations and food season, join the crowd. Millions of people will either crash on their current healthy eating habits or worse - chalk weight gain up to the season or totally give up.
Keep Honest Records
If you are counting calories and carbs, good luck. The easiest way to go is to keep a daily record, an actual journal, of what you eat. This is not the time to try and starve and then binge. In fact, yo-yo dieting is not only bad for your heart but also for your entire chemical and emotional make-up. Keep honest records and when you do allow yourself a day to nibble on holiday treats, do so without too much guilt.
Eat A Little of What You Want
Try to eat as healthily as possible and munch on holiday treats in small quantities. Did you notice I did not say to avoid holiday meals or treats? If you try to avoid them, you will regret it. This is always a good rule of thumb. Eat healthily for six days, and then eat one or two items, holiday snacks or deserts on the seventh. Alternatively, consume a small piece of chocolate, Carmel or whatever is your most loved flavor of candy every other day during the six days. Of course, you do know that chocolate has been proven to be good for your heart -- right?
Keep Your Stress Level Low
The new saying, "Stress Can Make You Fat," is not new at all. (Where do people come up with these things?). Just like over half of the population, anytime I am stressed, I eat and/or drink. It's a well-known fact that the more calories you consume, the more weight you will gain -- unless you double your exercise level.
Try to organize things early: food, recipes, gift buying and wrapping, party, inside and outside decorations, cards, travel arrangements for guests or for your own family, etc. Don't forget not to schedule school plays and other social events too close together and try to buy any formal wear ahead of time. Keeping your stress level as low as possible is a must during the holiday season and although it is sometimes hard, try to keep your regular work out schedule as normal as you can to stay fit.
Don't Over Schedule
If something should happen and the best well-laid plans fall through, think positively about the situation. Some people will spend hours trying to figure out what it was that they did to upset someone. Schedules get crazy during the holidays and things will get mixed up or forgotten. Go with the flow and do the best you can with schedules, kids, climate and relatives. Don't over schedule and sometimes that means having to say no and feeling OK about it. Do it and don't feel guilty!
Having a daily checklist is probably the easiest way to stay organized. There are plenty of great planners out there that will include a side panel or space on the same page of each day. Write down your appointments and lists in pencil, in case it needs to be rescheduled and refer to it often. Share events that affect the whole family with everyone at a family meeting.
Before the holidays get too close, try to begin to make healthy meals and deserts. Try them out on family members, neighbors and/or the local homeless shelters. This way, you can get feedback as to whether or not the new recipe is actually good or something you might want to pass on for now. For those that make the cut, cook or bake them early, and freeze baby - freeze!
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