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Exercising Values

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Holiday Eating Strategies to Stay Lean and Fit

build muscle exercise fat loss fitness habits holidays selfcare weight loss Dec 09, 2012

Fat and jolly may not be the look you are going for this holiday season. Exercise and good choices in what you eat will help you fit into your New Year's Eve clothes.

Even during the holidays, it is possible to get lean and fit. There are holiday eating strategies that will prevent weight gain while not ruining all the fun. While focusing on your diet, also keep daily exercise in your schedule such as one of the Exercising Values 15 minute routines. Regular exercise helps balance the extra eating so common this time of year.

Remember, lean bodies are built with protein. The best way to be sure you are eating enough protein is to include some at every meal and snack. If you are not a vegetarian and you do not have food sensitivities then your protein sources will include grass fed meats, eggs, poultry and wild caught fish. Vegetarians might rely on quinoa, Ezekial bread, rice and beans, hemp or pea proteins in shakes, or just eating a variety of plant-based foods.

Choose your protein sources wisely because if you are allergic or sensitive to a food, it will undermine both your health and your weight loss efforts. Eggs, soy, beef, peanuts, wheat, dairy, and corn are common allergens in some people and are even more likely to be foods to which a person is sensitive.

You are in the best position to know how you feel after eating a food because blood tests sometimes don’t test for all of the possibilities. For example, a test for a wheat or gluten sensitivity looks for one factor when there are at least five others in wheat known to cause sensitivity. To make it even harder, some symptoms are delayed making it confusing to know what food caused which symptom.

Working with an expert on an elimination diet can help you do the detective work necessary but  in the meantime if you suspect a food is causing you problems, stop eating it for four days to three weeks and observe what happens. It may be your favorite food or the one you turn to when you feel stressed. In addition to these protein sources, sugar is also a major culprit. Take care of yourself by not eating something you know is bad for you.

During the holidays, we naturally want to relax and enjoy time with friends and family.  Our get togethers usually involve an abundance of food, much of it sugary and unhealthy. Look for the high protein options and fill your plate with these first. Then take a very small amount of the rest because studies show that the first bite contains more than half of all the pleasure in eating any food. Taste everything but fill up on lean protein. Shrimp would be an example of an excellent choice. Help your children to also enjoy healthy food choices by being sure there are plenty available.

Moderation is key. Avoid parties or gatherings where you know you will have a hard time finding healthy options. If you really want or need to go, eat throughout the day and then eat something just before you arrive. The practice of starving yourself in order to "save" for a party is counter-productive as hunger will drive you to choose poor quality foods and to eat more than usual. Fill a small plate only half to three fourths full.  Portion control makes treats guilt free and they will give you more all round pleasure. You can always go back and even if you do, you will still be eating less than one large plate stacked full.

Get a glass of cold water as soon as you arrive. Think about this. One slice of pecan pie has 700-800 calories. Research shows that women are more likely to store fat if calories eaten at one  time exceed 500. The holidays are magical but the magic does not extend to making the consequences of poor eating choices go away. One or two bites of the treats you just can't live without and then lots of lean protein, vegetables and fruits will be enjoyable without adding inches to your waistline.

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About the Author

Pamela Davenport


For decades I have helped countless parents and their children overcome significant obstacles. My unique accomplishments in the fields of child development, health, and fitness have given me an unparalleled perspective and expertise that I would love to share with you.

  • Award-Winning Author and Parenting Coach
  • Mother of six and grandmother of five
  • Studied Juvenile Justice at Stanford University
  • Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Experienced family counselor
  • Support group leader for struggling parents
  • Taught health at the university level
  • Program manager for the personal training programs at two colleges
  • Personal Trainer helping people lose 5lb-100lb+
  • Two-time Ironman Triathlete and competing member of team USA
  •  UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award 2017