Do your pants feel tight after indulging a little too much during the holidays?
The holiday feasting must come to an end! We’re still feeling stuffed after indulging in endless cocktails, baked goods and home-cooked meals. Thankfully, our weight gain is normal, says Manhattan-based dietitian and SkinnyAndTheCity.com contributor Rachel Berman, who adds that pretty much everyone puts on a few pounds during the holidays. Between the stress of shopping, the countless parties (aka Empty Calorieville) and the lack of time to devote to healthy eating, it’s not uncommon at all for everyone to experience a “food hangover” come January. But don’t worry, the good dietician has eight solid tips to help you drop those pounds—and keep them off!
1. Eat Greek yogurt for breakfast. Starting your day off with a dose of protein will keep you fuller for longer, and, contrary to popular belief, regular yogurt alone is not high in protein. Berman suggests trying non-fat Greek yogurt (like Chobani or Fage) because it has more than double the protein. Try pairing it with fresh fruit or high protein-and-fiber cereals, like Kashi’s Go-Lean Crunch.
2. Say NO to alcohol for seven days. Don’t worry, it’s not forever! If you’re a regular drinker, just cutting out alcohol alone for a week or two will help you drop a couple pounds, Berman says. Do you get munchies after you’ve had a couple cocktails? Drinking alcohol affects your hydration levels, and it’s very easy to confuse thirst for hunger, which is why we sometimes overeat when we’re drinking. Alcohol also messes with your metabolism … and not in a good way. While our liver is busy processing alcohol, anything we eat during that time is instantly converted to fat. After you’ve avoided alcohol for one week, if you’re going to drink, cut back. Berman suggests having a glass of wine, a light beer, or hard liquor with zero calorie mixers like Fresca.
3. Munch on four M&Ms? Write it down! We always read that keeping a food diary is key for dieting, but it seems like so much work. Au contraire. Forget calorie counting, Berman says, All you have to do is write down the name of the food you eat because it keeps you accountable. However, this means you have to track everything, even that bite of macaroni and cheese from your kid’s leftovers. If you’re feeling overzealous, Berman suggests comparing your weight that week with what you ate to see if there are any patterns.
4. Get a personal trainer … on your iPod. Can’t afford a gym membership or a personal trainer? No worries! Now you can get your own personal trainer on your iPod for as little as $5-$10. You can save your workouts on iTunes, download them to your iPod and reuse them over and over. One of Berman’s favorites is “Master the Treadmill“—a 30-minute treadmill workout set to music where the trainer tells you how fast you should go and at what incline you should set the treadmill. Also check out iAmplify.com for all types of workouts. Yoga, cardio, weight training … they are all available!
5. Put down the gummy bears and pick up the chocolate! Sorry to break the bad news, but you should not be eating any kind of refined plain candy. It gives you energy at first, but then you completely crash. Not only that, but all of the sugar will be converted to fat. Even eating a piece of hard candy can add up, Berman says. She suggests trying sugar-free candy if you absolutely cannot keep it out of your life. That doesn’t mean everything delicious is off-limits! Berman says to indulge yourself (in moderation) with chocolate because there is still some nutritional value (especially in dark chocolate, which is rich in anti-oxidants).
6. Keep your mouth and hands busy. Munching mindlessly in front of a TV at night is dangerous for dieters. Berman suggests keeping your hands busy so you don’t snack just for the heck of it. Try doing a crossword puzzle, knitting, sitting on the computer or reading. Also, keep temptations out of the house, or you take the risk of raiding the kitchen for diet-wreckers in moments of weakness! Also, keep low-calorie snacks around your office and house to eat when you feel like munching on something. 100-calorie pack popcorn, Skinny Cow fudge popsicles or veggies with hummus are all good options.
7. Jump-start your weight loss with a fad diet! While Berman doesn’t necessarily endorse any specific diet trends, she does admit that they can be helpful when starting weight loss in order to see quick results. But when transitioning from a fad to a real diet, it’s important to make sure you have someone, like a dietitian checking out your eating plan. Berman says a lot of people have success with fad diets, but then gain everything back after they go back to a normal eating pattern. She also suggests staying away from any diets that eliminate food groups completely, like carbs or fat.
8. Avoid the scale. This one shouldn’t be too difficult (it isn’t for us, at least)! Weigh yourself once a week in the morning, says Berman. If you obsess over your weight all the time, it will mess with your psyche and ultimately, lead to no good. Weight fluctuates every day depending on a wide range of factors and there’s no use beating yourself up. Keeping motivated is key in weight loss and is often the most difficult thing to do. Make small goals for yourself like, “I will not drink alcohol this week,” and then reward yourself with a massage when you achieve them. When you’re feeling down on yourself, remember that everyone’s human and everyone makes mistakes. Staying focused on your goals and remaining upbeat is a major part of the battle!