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Eat, Drink & Be Merry -- Without Guilt

Indulge without blowing it


Updated December 18, 2008

Look at any holiday buffet and you may actually feel your fat cells growing larger. There's so much temptation, you may think your only option is to either throw in the towel and eat yourself silly or go home and lock yourself inside until January.

You can enjoy yourself without blowing your healthy diet with the right attitude. It's OK to treat yourself and even cut down on exercise if you need to, but you'll enjoy yourself more if you don't eat yourself into a coma and completely ditch your workout routine. Use these strategies to avoid getting sucked into a holiday eating frenzy.

Eating With Abandon

Don't let the buffet table win! To deal with the temptation of calorie-laden party foods, first give yourself free reign to choose from everything on the buffet table. When you restrict certain foods, you may find yourself fixated on them, which leads to overindulgence. Allowing plenty of options will help you make intelligent choices about what you'll actually eat, thus freeing you from worry, guilt and extra pounds. Prepare for holiday functions by:

  • Eating something before the party so you're not starving
  • Giving yourself time to peruse the buffet and have some water before you dig in
  • Deciding what and how much you'll have before you fill your plate
  • Choose things you can only get this time of year (i.e., you can always have potato chips -- why waste good calories on that?)
  • Avoiding liquid calories by limiting the number of alcoholic drinks you have and by drinking a big glass of water between drinks.
  • Enjoy every bite knowing you indulged yourself without going overboard

Effectively Reducing your Exercise

When we get busy, exercise is usually the first thing to go. Instead of stopping altogether, there are ways you can reduce your training without losing all that you've gained. Studies show that you can maintain muscle by doing 1-2 strength training sessions a week. You can also maintain your stamina, even if you have to cut down on your usual cardio workouts. Use these strategies to maintain your fitness level:

  • For lifting weights, concentrate on doing compound movements that work more than one muscle at a time. Try this Compound Movement Workout.
  • Do half of your usual cardio sessions, but maintain the intensity you normally achieve or work even harder.
  • Even better, if you reduce your cardio time, up the ante by going faster or by doing interval training.
  • Mix it up with circuit training. This allows you to fit it all in -- weight training and cardio.
  • If you're too tired to do much, try yoga or Pilates which will keep you active and relaxed.

Eyes Wide Open

The trick to making it through the holidays without guilt is to stay in control: Be conscious of your eating and exercise choices. Everything you do is always a choice (even if it doesn't feel that way), so knowing the consequences of your decisions will help you enjoy the holiday season. For example, if you do end up eating more and exercising less, know that you'll probably gain a little weight but, if you know to expect that, you'll be ready to deal with it when the party's over.

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