Experts share 8 tips and tricks for staying in shape through the feasting season

Deck the halls with boughs of…food! No, wait, holly. All kidding aside, it’s already November, which means that you’re probably preparing for several feasts before the end of the year. This does not give you an excuse though to gain unwanted pounds. Here are eight expert-recommended tips and tricks to avoid the holiday weight gain.

  1. Plan a mid-winter goal – Stay on track with your physical activity by setting plans on January. Joe Masiello, director of Focused Personal Training Institute in New York City, suggested that booking an event like running a 5K, bike race, or group workout class for January will help you stay motivated all the way through holiday season. Having a particular goal in mind will make it easier to get up and go to the gym. “It tends to keep them focused and less likely to let it all go before the holidays,” said Masiello.

  2. Set a goal every month – Maximize the mild weather before winter comes in. Try to do as many physical activity as you can outdoors. Optimize your weight loss goal by joining a gym in the following months. The financial commitment will motivate you to go to the gym and workout instead of sitting on the couch and doing nothing.

  3. Practice having short break workouts – Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, Masiello said that it is not always necessary. He said that consistency is more necessary than time, so it is perfectly acceptable to have short bursts of exercise as long as it gets the blood flowing. These include walking around the block, walking up and down the stairs, or alternating body weight squats and push-ups.

  4. Do the seven-minute workout – Researchers have created the seven-minute workout that is a combination of both aerobic and resistance exercises. The workout is composed of 12 exercises: jumping jacks, wall-sits, push-ups, crunches, step-ups into chair, triceps dips, planks, high knees running in place, lunges, push ups and rotation, and side planks. For seven minutes, each exercise must be done in 30 seconds with a 10-second break in between.

  5. Be mindful of the amount of food you are getting – The feasting season will tempt you to eat more, but keep in mind that you are maintaining a healthy diet. Get a smaller plate during a feast, so that you will grab less food. Amy Shapiro, a nutritionist and owner of Real Nutrition NYC, suggested that half of the plate should be filled with vegetables, a quarter filled with protein, and the other quarter be filled with some holiday treats. Moreover, she recommended to check out the food table before getting anything to stop you from picking unnecessary food and just choosing whatever is on the table. (Related: Common holiday foods that are worse for you than you think.)

  6. Avoid sugary drinks – Irina Popa, owner of NYC Health & Nutrition, said that sugary drinks like sodas and mixed cocktails have more calories than a small pastry or a square of chocolate. Have a glass of wine, a lighter beer, or a clean cocktail instead.

  7. Have a protein snack beforehand – Eating a protein snack before a party or an event will make you feel fuller for longer because the body takes more time digesting protein. Prepare protein snacks such as Greek yogurt with fruit or hummus and vegetables so that you will feel more satisfied eating it. Popa said that we feel like we are indulging when we prepare snacks that look appetizing. This trick will prevent you from going to the party too hungry and indulging in unnecessary foods.

  8. Don’t wear stretchy pants – Wearing something non-constricting or stretchy pants like yoga pants can make you eat more than what you would normally eat, according to Shapiro. Instead, wear jeans, pants, or skirt.

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