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5 Tips to Keep the Winter Weight Off (without depriving yourself)

Tis the season of cookies, candy canes, and over eating.  With all the temptations and not enough time to work up a sweat, it is easy to pack on the lbs during the holiday season. 

After day three of being sore from my workout at the Dance Factory, I realized I had not worked out in over three months!  Quite a long stretch!  The ironic thing is... I actually lost weight during those three months.  Now I am not advocating to stop all physical activity... and I'm also not a licensed nutritionist by any means... but I have a few tips on healthier eating that can help keep the winter weight off even if you don't have time to get to the gym with your busy holiday schedule.

1.  Don't deprive yourself.  I have the worst sweet tooth.  I can't help it, I need something sweet, like all of the the time!  My go to sweet tooth solution is gum since it stays sweet for a while.  If gum doesn't work, I like to go with fresh fruit.  I know, I know... fresh fruit will not fix most cravings, which is why I usually pair a banana with a spoonful of peanut butter and some dark chocolate chips.  Totally satisfying, filling, and not bad for you.  If that doesn't work for you, then try eating ONE cookie or ONE small scoop of ice cream.  If you give yourself a small serving and put it away, you're less likely to keep eating after your sweet tooth is satisfied.  But if you don't give yourself a little bit, eventually you'll cave, eat too much, and feel guilty.

2.  Eat only when you're hungry.  This can be a tricky one during the holidays... well... any time really.  When you're eating with family or going out to dinner with friends, you feel obligated to eat full entrees with them even when you're not hungry.  Opt for a side like a baked potato or side salad, then you can have a small meal at home when you are actually hungry.  Also, we tend to eat based on a specific schedule or when it is most convenient to eat.  Just because it is noon doesn't mean you have to eat lunch.  And have a healthy snack easily accessible, like an apple or carrot sticks, so you don't feel tempted to go to the nearest vending machine.

3.  Cook as much as you can at home.  My guess is that you don't own a deep fryer.  That cuts out some of the most unhealthy food out there!  Cooking at home doesn't mean you're a slave to the kitchen.  In fact, the healthiest food is usually the quickest to prepare!  Don't be scared of spices either... they add tons of flavor without adding calories.  Also, make more than you plan on eating, then set it aside for lunch the next day so you don't go back for seconds.

4.  Change your mindset.  This one is probably the hardest and will take time to work on, but think about what you are eating as fuel for your body, because that is exactly what it is!  Do you think you're body will perform better with a side of steamed broccoli or fried potatoes.  Think about the nutrition involved.  But also keep it balanced.  Don't deprive yourself.  Obviously a full plate of raw vegetables is great for you, but if that's what you eat everyday, you will either hate eating or eat an entire cake in one sitting.  If you have something like croque du riesling, keep it to a small portion size and balance it with a salad.

5.  Speaking of salads, make a healthy salad!  Too often we drown our salads in dressing and cheese, but consider it a healthy meal because it is a salad afterall.  Well, not all salads are healthy.  My favorite salad to make at the salad bar includes mostly spinach and mixed greens, then I top it with some sunflower seeds, feta cheese, bell pepper slices, bean sprouts, and just a little bit of crumbled bacon.  I gradually cut out using dressing.  I realized I didn't need it to enjoy my salad if I had the right mix.  Everyone's mix will be different, but there is always a way to make your healthy choices healthier.

Those are my top five tips to keep in mind this holiday eating season.  Enjoy the time with friends and family, but keep the pounds at bay.  Swim suit season is just around the corner (or at least that's what I keep telling myself every time I bundle up to go outside)! Yum

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