Normally have three drinks? Reduce that number. Try substituting healthier (nonalcohol) beverages and/or alternating sparkling water with lime in a champagne flute. The presentation can be quite satisfying.
The same holds true for appetizers and sweets. When attending a party, be choosy. Just because the host has offered 20 different selections, doesn't mean we are required to sample them all. Decide on a few new or interesting hors d'oeuvres and fill in with healthy choices such as fresh fruits and vegetables minus the high-calorie dips. At the dessert table, instead of having a bite of all of them, choose one and enjoy it! This advice may sound unappealing, but try it sometime and see how proud you are of yourself the next day.
Ink-in fitness on your holiday social calendar
In terms of an action plan, make it a priority while in the midst of juggling that lively social calendar to schedule in exercise as well. Avoid freeing up time for holiday obligations at the expense of your training habits. Not only does your physical health depend on it, but also your emotional health. Holiday time is the most predictable providers of stress all year. Activity is your body's greatest stress reliever, so recognize its value and keep it in your plans.
Not enough time, you say? Think about how efficient you can make your existing workouts. If you socialize in the gym, save that for party time and get straight to work. Maximize your efforts and go from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. Many are fooled into thinking anything less than an hour of exercise is not worthwhile. On the contrary, you can pack great cardio or strength training into half that if you trim the chitchat and hit it hard.
Turn shopping into a power workout. You can burn loads of calories walking and lifting each time. On the other hand, if you do some shopping on the Internet, you can free up valuable time for your tennis game or a much-needed yoga class.
Finally, when it is time to prepare your own holiday meals, give yourself permission to deviate slightly from traditional high-calorie offerings to include a few healthier options. Try using some low-fat ingredients in your cooking and understand that not everything you serve tastes better with gravy or smothered in sauce.
Now this friendly fitness advice is not given to put a damper on your holiday fun. It simply asks you to do a little planning to move through the end of November and December with more energy and less guilt. Take what suggestions you can live with and toss the rest over your shoulder. Remember: Nothing tastes as good as lean feels!
Cindy Boggs, free-lance fitness professional and state director of Activate America, has been an ACE-certified fitness coordinator/instructor at the YMCA of the Kanawha Valley since 1989. Have a question pertaining to health and/or fitness? E-mail cindys...@aol.com or visit her at www.cindysays.com.