My name is Lauren Drain – Registered nurse of 10 years, WBFF Bikini Pro, NASM certified personal trainer and Fitness Model; here are my 5 tips for helping you get through the holiday season.
When the holiday season begins, things can get pretty stressful. We’re excited for all of the camaraderie between family and friends, but dread the temptation of pumpkin spice everything, apple pie season, holiday treats at work, and all of the unwanted weight that seems to pile on in a short period of time.
I remember this time of every year on the nursing unit very clearly. Once the decorations come out, the sugary sweets do too. Patients’ families send cookies and cupcakes in gratitude for caring for their loved ones during a busy and charitable season. Doctors deliver annual gift baskets full of chocolates, festive cookies, and other confections out of appreciation for the nursing staff’s hard work all year round. It seemed like there was a whole new tray of sugar every day. To me, it was almost unavoidable to indulge; the temptations are so accessible and everyone partakes, resistance seems futile. I use to deny the fact that there is any way to stay or get in shape during this season flooded with sweets.
But there is.
Treats should not be a consequential item, one that you never eat, “or suffer the consequences.” That way of thinking invites a bad relationship with food of all kinds. Instead, I recommend developing a healthier way of approaching holiday foods. This method takes away the “scare factor” of traditionally unhealthy food, while maintaining normal life.
1. Develop a plan.
When it comes to eating unhealthy foods and treats, a really good rule of thumb is to set one day each week as your “cheat meal” or “cheat day.” During the holidays, pick one day each week that you plan to indulge a bit. Whether it be Thanksgiving dinner, a holiday party at work, or a get together on the weekend, plan and prioritize these cheat days. Focus on sticking to a healthy, well balanced diet throughout the rest of the week, then splurge a little on your cheat day. You won’t feel deprived, instead you should feel accomplished and rewarded when your cheat meal/day arrives, as it was earned. By the way, “cheat” meals can reset hormones, metabolic rates, and satisfy cravings (not to mention your sanity) so they are actually a great routine to incorporate in your day-to-day life, even when the holiday season ends.
2. Get involved.
You don’t have to avoid the break room entirely. In fact, you should be part of the festivities! Be the one to bring in veggie plates, hummus plates, and fruit baskets to share. You can even get crafty and whip up some holiday themed trays. You’ll be surprised how many co-workers will be thankful to have healthy options during the stressful, busy shifts – not to mention how great it will be for you. When you have cookies and cupcakes with no healthy alternative nearby, it can be a recipe for disaster for yourself, as well as others. If patients, doctors, or even family ask what delivery the nursing staff may like, suggest a healthy option (like Edible Arrangements).
3. Go black
… or at least light, non-dairy creamer. A huge new trend I’ve noticed during the holiday is flavored coffee and tea. These tend to get loaded up with sweeteners and sugars masked as “seasonal flavors” like pumpkin pie, apple crumble, or candy cane. Every hospital has coffee, it’s often the only thing getting us through a tough shift, so you don’t nix coffee altogether. If you remove a bunch of added calories/sugar and stick with light, non-dairy milks, you’ll be just fine. Dairy can make you sluggish and bloated, while coconut and almond milks are light, low-calorie and usually don’t cause any bloating or fatigue. Avoid syrups in your drinks, unless you opt for the sugar-free variety. If you decide to skip the sugar, you can also start to incorporate Splenda or stevia as your sweetener of choice; you’ll be surprised at how fast your taste buds will accommodate. Coffee can help your energy, seal your appetite after a meal, and even serve as a dessert – just keep it clean!
4. Stay balanced.
While you snack throughout the day, keep your all-around nutrition in mind. Try to have a large portion of it protein, a small portion of fats (nuts, avocado, hummus), keep the carbs moderate (a single serving of fruit, or oats in greek yogurt), and as many veggies as you want – just skip the concentrated sweets, like muffins. Opt for something more filling to subside your cravings; I suggest a Quest nutrition protein bar. The blueberry muffin bar specifically has similar muffin taste, but still includes your protein, fat, and fiber to prevent the blood sugar spike and drop. Many protein bars, when eaten in moderation, can kill a sweet tooth craving and still prevent those crazy sugar spikes and the dreaded afternoon energy crash. Stock your purse, bags, and lockers with your favorite protein bars (Pro tip: Amazon sells variety packs of Quest and ThinkThin, some of my favorite brands). Just try to stick to the ones with a calorie count under 200, and carbs no more than 25g per bar as a general rule.
A basic rule of thumb is to keep your body in motion at least 4x/week, and it doesn’t have to be intense every session. Go for a hike, bike outside, speed walk with your dog or baby, do a body circuit at home using DVDs or YouTube, or even take a gym class once a week. Just be sure to work out for about 45 minutes each session, and try to intensify and break a sweat during at least 2 of those sessions. Most body circuits use your bodyweight; for added intensity, throw in dumbbells or kettlebells. You don’t need to be in the gym for long hours to get or stay fit, you just have to stick to a routine.
If you’re looking for guidance, motivation, accountability or structure consider one of my programs. Take a look on my website www.laurendrain.com and see what’s possible with my personal help and guidance. Take a look at past client transformation & testimonials and consider jumping onto my next 6 week challenge that starts on 11/19 and ends on New Years Eve.