The holidays are an excellent reason to eat, drink, and be merry. But often stress-disguised-as-holiday-cheer can lead us to gain uncomfortable weight. If you’re already trying to lose weight, the holidays can be especially challenging.
We spoke with Carleen Birnes, personal trainer extraordinaire and owner of Howl Health and Yoga Barn in Severna Park, for some tips on how to make sure you enjoy your holidays while making some savvy swaps and .
First up: move your body in a smart way. Turkey Trots are great fun, but if you want to make the most of your time and your workout, consider a HIIT or sprint workout. As an added benefit, they’re much shorter workouts, too. “A ten-minute sprint or a 15-minute HIIT workout will have the same metabolic benefits as a 45-minute run,” says Birnes. But remember to really push yourself – it’s a quick burn.
Later, when you are back at the house, fuel your body thoughtfully. A typical Thanksgiving plate can contain between 3,000 and 4,500 calories, and if you snack ahead of time you can easily consume an extra 1,500 calories before even sitting down.
So think before you enjoy the appetizer plate. One serving of cheese is one ounce, or roughly the size of two thumbs. For extra credit, put cheese on fruit or vegetables. “Think of high-glycemic foods like crescent rolls and breads like a condiment, and eat them in moderation,” says Birnes.
And about drinking: Birnes has some thoughts: “When you’re really interested in sticking to a healthy weight, alcohol destroys everything,” she says. “You can eat a plate of Brussels sprouts and lean white meat, but if you have two glasses of wine, your body will add calories that are devoid of any vitamins or sustenance. This completely throws off any weight loss goals.”
If you want a drink, consider a clear alcohol like vodka or tequila, and enjoy it without the extra sugar of a mixer. But stick with just one, because the more you drink, the more thumbs of cheese you may be inclined to eat.
When you do sit down at the table, stick with meat and veg. “Prioritize non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cruciferous vegetables, and leafy greens,” says Birnes. “Eat liberal amounts of proteins, too – protein’s a hard thing to overeat. If you focus on protein and vegetables, you’ll be in a good energy balance.”
Possibly the best advice is that Thanksgiving is just one day, and you don’t need permission to enjoy the day and get back on track starting Friday.
For more on Carleen Birnes and her services, visit Howl Health.
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