Ho, Ho, How to Stay in Shape with Holiday Food Around

If you know me, you already know that I take some serious pride in my guns. Yup, those four days a week in the gym aren’t wasted on being modest and they certainly aren’t being traded in for guilty pleasures over the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be having second servings and festive cocktails like it’s my job, but there are some easy ways to make sure you’re not feeling like a stuffed turkey come New Year’s Day.

Make Healthy Food and You’ll Eat Healthy Food
Yes, Thanksgiving gravy, Christmas cookies and Valentine’s Day chocolate are all wonderful things, but it’s the buffets — guilt-filled family dinners and colleague pot lucks — that really have you bursting at the seams. Understanding that moderation is the key will make sure your plate isn’t filled solely with the naughty stuff. My trick is to cook up something wicked good and healthy! Try a vegetarian or vegan side dish that won’t put off your meat-loving folks, but compliment the other heavy foods on the table. Then, be sure to have a good helping of that and smaller helpings of the rich stuff. It’s not about deprivation, or compromising on flavor and the fun of holiday pizazz (your veggie chili can be served in a snowman bowl, too). And remember, drinks are full of the same evil carbs and calories as food. Treat them like treats, and you might even avoid some embarrassing confessional conversations with your boss.

Don’t Be “Festive” for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Are you truly going to appreciate Nonna’s chocolate cake after dinner, if you’ve already had it after lunch? I don’t think so, and this theory should be applied to holiday pig-outs. Designate a family function, restaurant reservation or holiday movie marathon as your time to eat guilt-free, and then treat your other meals of the day as if it were any regular day. When I know dinner is going to be a five course marathon, a healthy breakfast and a light lunch are always on the menu.  Food comas and hangovers can encourage more bad eating, but getting back on track will help keep you from derailing completely.

Do Some Exercise, And Make it Fun
If you’re a regular gym rat or are practically glued to your yoga mat, I don’t have to tell you to keep up with your exercise over the holidays. But even if you’re not the type to peel yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for a run, getting your body moving will help put all that food you’re consuming to good use. If you’re around family or friends, organize a game of football in your backyard, have a dance off (and use the video footage for black mail later) or simply take a walk to check out how other people are celebrating in your hood. You’d also be surprised at the sweat you can work up cooking enough food for a family of 35. Trade in your hand mixer for some bicep power and lookout.

It’s okay to let your hair down and live a little when you’ve got time off, great company and an even greater spread available to you. Me and my guns will enjoy the best of both worlds, with booze in one hand and a dumbbell in the other.

Get my full Christmas menu.