The Holiday Season: Enjoying Every Bite

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you've undoubtedly come across tips and tricks to "beat the holiday bulge" or "fend off festive weight gain."  Come January, magazine covers are awash with headlines urging readers to stick to their health-related new year's resolutions – for good this time!  

I personally treat the holidays like any other time of year, and don't stress seasonal "over-eating" anymore than I get bent out of shape over "getting that bikini body by 4th of July weekend," another magazine ploy that drives me bananas.  If you're at a healthy weight, eat nutritiously more often than not, and stay active, I'm willing to bet you're comfortable at the beach any time of year.  Occasions that are delicious in every way – from the food, to the company, to the atmosphere – happen year round.  Why not enjoy them instead of incessantly obsessing over them?  Below are some tips on how to do just that.

1.  Savor specialty dishes.  

My mom's butternut squash lasagna, apricot-studded stuffing and day-after-Thanksgiving ribs come around just once a year.  Same goes for my mother-in-law's Christmas pasteles,and I wouldn't miss any of the above for the world!  Whatever it is that tickles your tastebuds this time of year, serve yourself a generous portion and swoon over every bite like it's your last meal on earth.  Sip water (and some wine!) between bites, compliment the chef, and take note of the tastes and textures in each special dish.  You might be surprised that you're comfortably full and satisfied by the end of the meal, instead of feeling taunted by that pecan pie you passed up!

2.  Create and continue non-food traditions.

Charades?  Board games?  A refreshing stroll?  Taking the focus OFF of food for at least part of the big day is a great way to bond, breathe, and digest.  Get your holiday table cleared, pack away leftovers, and step out of the dining room for at least an hour before serving dessert.  My family and I STAND around the kitchen island and get to work on a puzzle!  My stepbrother is bringing a 1000-piecer featuring beer labels this year, so I'm sure we'll all be focused on the task at hand instead of chomping at the bit for sweets.  

3.  Stick to regular sweat sessions.

Make it a priority to work out Thanksgiving morning AND on Black Friday (same goes for religious holidays in December – sweat it out the day of the big celebration and the day after).  This year, I'll run on Thanksgiving, and utilize all those extra holiday calories to feed a heavy strength-training session on Black Friday.  If you must glue yourself to the television for Thanksgiving football, work some exercise into the mix – 10 pushups for every touchdown, 20 bodyweight squats for every field goal, and a mix of planks and crunches during halftime.  Score!

Stay Vibrant and enjoy the holidays to the fullest!