The holidays will surely have a way of diverting us from the course, right? Maintaining a routine during the holiday season is difficult even for a “professional planner” and for those with a “steel determination” on the diet, so don’t be put off by a momentary indiscretion or two. It is important that we “modern moms” resign ourselves to doing what we can, when we can, in the context of our top priorities, and that we do it well emotionally. That is, give yourself “permission” instead of feeling guilty for doing what you know is right, like spending your very limited but quality time with your children after a long day at work.
It’s important to figure out what CAN be done to stay on track during decidedly hectic times like this, and make the most of these opportunities as they overcompensate for the lack of effort elsewhere (due to minimal time and energy).
Here are some of the things even the busiest modern mom “should” be able to do during hectic vacations, even with a busy job, travel, family, and all things vacation, some courtesy of the nutrition experts at eDiets:
o Eat “clean”. Yes, I KNOW those doggy holiday baskets are everywhere (especially in the workplace), but with a reduced fitness regimen, your health pursuit / weight loss efforts will depend on your ability to maintain your calorie intake. at reasonable levels. Chewing on mint-flavored gum (which will make chocolate and other things taste less good) or sucking on sugar-free hard candy can help you resist those temptations. Or enjoy a cup of sugar-free / fat-free hot cocoa or a low-fat oatmeal and fruit cereal bar on your desk! Don’t just deprive yourself, do some kind of reasonable trade! Again, you just need to plan ahead and have your emergency food available. If you only make one list a week, make it a healthy shopping list and stick to it!
o Eat small, healthy meals every 2.5 to 3 hours or so instead of a few large meals. Doing so will keep you satiated throughout the day so you’re not hungry at mealtime, which can lead to overeating or calorie-laden foods, and will keep your metabolism going. And make sure you are NOT skipping meals because you are too busy. While you think you’re saving calories and don’t care, you’re actually slowing down your metabolism, which has to “stretch” the energy from your last meal for a longer period of time. If your body comes to “wait” for new sources of fuel more often, it will burn what you consume faster.
o Drink your water, and lots of it! (no matter how many trips to the ladies’ room it takes) Your body is made up mostly of water and although water has no calories to provide energy, it contributes to weight loss and supports your digestive system. Plenty of water will keep toxins flowing directly out of your body.
o Enjoy heart-healthy “winter” foods – Soups are great … convenient, healthy, and delicious. Make a fresh vegetable soup with all your favorite root vegetables … sautéed onions and garlic in a nonstick pot, then add water or low sodium canned vegetable broth, potato wedges, celery root and carrots. Season with dried herbs and pepper and enjoy as a meal with some whole grain bread or as a snack. Stews can be made with healthy root vegetables and lean meat. The secret to a healthy stew is not adding fat to your food! Cook the meat without added fat in a nonstick skillet, drain the fat and simmer with carrots, onions and garlic. And citrus is at its peak in the winter! Florida oranges and grapefruits are best enjoyed peeled … the fiber in the whole fruit is the most beneficial. Remember, it takes at least 5 oranges to make an 8 oz glass of orange juice … and you would not peel or eat 5 oranges in one sitting … it would be full after one or two! So enjoy your citrus … whole.
o Just before going to any party, eat an apple with a full glass of water to keep the fiber at bay. Go ahead and “taste” the party food if you just can’t seem to resist; it’s okay to indulge in a “reasonable” size gift every now and then, especially to celebrate. As long as you can enjoy the modest treat while maintaining full control, you can immediately put your mindset back in “diet mode”, enjoy the event, and not feel completely deprived. Otherwise, have a glass in hand. If you are holding a glass, it is more difficult to hold a plate and eat! To get started, grab a plate of food, enjoy it, and then keep a glass in hand for the rest of the event. And finally, don’t stand around the food table – grab whatever food you want and leave the area immediately!
o With your busy schedule, do what you can with the following tips on Monday through Friday, and resolve to exercise for at least an hour on Saturdays and Sundays. There are no excuses here … if you skip your workouts during the week, you should do them on the weekend. Optimally, you will also find a happy mid-point during the week, such as getting up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a morning walk as well (at least).
o Try isometric exercises. These are great if you’re short on time or stuck in line at the grocery store. By just flexing a few times a day, you can maintain a significant amount of muscle tension. Just flex those muscles whenever you’re sitting in your car, standing at the bus stop, or walking to the boss’s office. For example, while stuck in traffic, tighten your abs and hold for 60 seconds, but remember to keep breathing through your nostrils. Perhaps you are waiting in line to pay at a store.
o Take every opportunity to exercise and engage in healthy behaviors during your workday. Here are some ideas:
o Stretch! Every hour do some exercise on the couch. While sitting, lean back in your chair and let your arms dangle … then sit back and breathe deeply and slowly five times … inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
or Crunch! Every hour, do 12 “back crunches” … while sitting, squeeze your buttock muscles and hold for 10 seconds. Start with 3 reps and build up to 5 or more.
o Focus on your posture: While sitting at your desk, consciously focus on sitting upright with your neck relaxed, shoulders back, spine elongated, feet on the floor, and abs tight. Maintaining good posture engages most of the muscles in your body, and keeping your body in good alignment will help retrain your muscle groups throughout the day. In addition to practicing good posture, you can look 10 pounds lighter.
o Take 10-minute breaks every hour – Studies have shown that employees are much more satisfied and more productive if they take 10-minute breaks every hour. Use that time to get up, stretch, take a brisk walk, or breathe deeply. Oxygenating your muscles and getting your blood pumping will keep you more alert, manage stress, and help boost your metabolism. Three sessions of ten minutes are equivalent to a continuous session of thirty minutes.
The bottom line is that there will be obstacles to achieving and maintaining your desired body weight – you may run into a plateau or an unexpected life event that throws you off track. Remember this is all part of the process and while you may wander temporarily, you CAN get back on track the next day!