Now that Thanksgiving is done, we have a whole month of holiday parties and celebrations in front of us! With all that tempting great food, no wonder the most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose all that weight we’ve gained.
But by following these three rules, you can avoid the extra holiday pounds and stay in top running shape.
1. Watch Your Portion Sizes
Just because the food tastes really good doesn’t mean you need to fill your plate. Smaller portions means less calories. If you’re at a party with hors d’oeuvres, then use a small plate and be sure to leave some whitespace around your food.
Take only small portions of a couple of selections and make yourself have to choose to go back for more instead of piling your plate high. Not only does this cut down on your portion sizes, it also makes you look like less of a glutton! And inbetween the crab rangoon and saucy meatballs, make sure you select some fresh vegetables and other healthful choices (see #2 below).
When at a buffet or sit-down dinner, remember that you are in control of how much food you put on your plate. Most plates, especially at restaurants, are much too large for regular portion sizes.
Keep some space around each item on your plate instead of filling it. When eating, try to put your fork down between each bite and don’t pick it up again until you’ve swallowed. In this manner, you can pace your eating just like you do your running!
2. Opt For Healthful Choices
Most holiday fare is extremely rich — which is what makes it so good! You don’t have to completely avoid the good stuff (after all it is the holidays), just make sure to mix in healthful choices as well.
When selecting your portion sizes, try to make the portion sizes for healthful choices a little larger than their more tasty but less healthful counterparts.
So what do you select for healthful holiday fare? Start with salads and fresh veggies (but remember not to go overboard on the dressing). If fruit is available, that’s great too!
If you start with some low-fat low-calorie healthful choices, you’ll satisfy some of your appetite and will be less tempted to over-indulge on the decadent stuff. Sauces tend to be extremely high in unwanted extra fat and calories, so try to find selections that go light on the sauce.
Creamy sauces (hollandaise, alfredo, etc.) tend to have more calories and fat than other sauces (au jus, marsala, etc.). Opt for fish or white meat over red meat. And always go for the veggies!
3. Calories In <= Calories Out
No matter what you choose to eat (or how much) over the holidays, remember that your ultimate weight gain (or loss) is governed by the above equation. Calories In come from the food you eat, and Calories Out are the result of energy burned during activities like running.
If you over-indulged the night before, or if that extra dessert was just too good to pass up, then all is not lost. Just tack another mile or two onto your next run to make up for it! Of course, you should always try to make the calories you take in be as healthful as possible — but after all, the holiday season only comes once a year!
So if you can’t pass up that succulent steak, or just have to try the five layer chocolate cake which is to die for, then go ahead! As runners we have a decided advantage over our non-running associates. Running is a very efficient way to burn calories. Although your actual calorie burn rate will depend on your body weight and running pace, the general rule of thumb is that running will burn about 100 calories per mile.
So enjoy your holidays, have fun, and get out there and keep running!