Christmas Conundrum: Lose weight while still enjoying holiday parties

Traditional Danish Christmas dinner.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s December 1st and the inevitable time is upon us once again. It’s no surprise to us but each year we act like it’s something we didn’t see coming…What am I talking about? I’m referring to the office Christmas parties, family parties, parties with friends, random Christmas cookies brought into the office, the wine, the eggnog and so on and so forth. We knew this time of year was coming and just like the old tale of The Ant & The Grasshopper, each year we arrive at this point unprepared and ill equipped to face the next 30 days of foodie paradise.

This year, why not arm yourself with a few tools to help you keep that waistline trim and survive those Christmas parties without doing too much damage? Staying slim during the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to become an antisocial recluse, it simply means that you have to be smart about your choices.

The first step in surviving the holiday party is to make sure you attend the party after you’ve had a little food; preferably something high in fiber. Not only will this be slow digesting, keeping your insulin levels steady, but it will give you a slightly full feeling. By no means should you attend a Christmas party on an empty stomach unless you’re on a “Seefood Diet” and no I didn’t spell seafood wrong for all you nitpickers. My point is that when you have an empty stomach you’ll see food and most likely eat with your eyes.  Have you ever heard that phrase, “your eyes are too big for your stomach”? Well situations like these where you eat too much too fast, leave you feeling like a Burmese Python that just consumed a goat, barely able to move and needing a week to digest.

Ok so now that you’re at the party…”put down that massive plate”. Ok, so now that we’re at the party go for the small plate and don’t load it up. Sample a few items, but choose the healthier, lower calorie options first. Move around the party and talk with people. Stand as far away from the food table as possible. This means you have to break your conversation to head back to the food. You don’t want the person you’re talking with to feel like the food table is more important than they are do you? Obviously the food table might be a good out for those times where you’re cornered by someone in the office you can’t stand chatting with or even worse, by your boss, but when going back for seconds choose a few delectable desserts and enjoy (no seconds on these).

Steer clear of the alcohol. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Hey, if weight loss or fat loss is your goal then stop fooling yourself and just cut it out. It’s easier if you nominate yourself the designated driver.

At the end of the night, don’t take anything home except your secret Santa gift. No doggie bags…put the Tupperware down.

Now that you have a game plan, get out there and make it happen this holiday season. If you don’t manage to stick to the game plan this December, then tune in this January as I give you tips for shaking the holiday weight.

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Lack of Sleep or Legally Drunk?

Sleeping

Image by soylentgreen23 via Flickr

Sleep is essential for your overall health and many times we don’t realize the significant impact that a lack of sleep has on our day and overall life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a busy executive, sleep is essential for your overall performance. The excuses about having a lot of work to finish, big exam or presentation just doesn’t fly. Plan ahead, prepare and get it done on time.  Once you get into a pattern of inefficiency and try to compensate by pulling all nighters, the vicious cycle begins. Lack of  sleep further disrupts your efficiency and you’ll find yourself plummeting further down the rabbit hole.  Take a look at how insufficient sleep can disrupt brain function during exams or during long days at work:

With continued lack of sufficient sleep, the part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time is severely affected, practically shutting down. In fact, 17 hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (two glasses of wine). This is the legal drink driving limit in the UK.

via BBC – Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – What is sleep.

Last Minute Holiday Desserts Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Low Fat

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread

We’re closing in on Thanksgiving and you’re still wondering what to prepare for your guests. With such a wide range of guests in attendance, how can we manage to please them all. Here are some simple solutions that will satisfy the sweet tooth of the majority, while catering to fitness junkies and those with diabetes and gluten sensitivities.

For the recipes below I would substitute synthetic sugars for agave or other natural alternatives. Also, you may want to consider quinoa flour instead of oats for a lower glycemic index, higher nutrient dense subsitute.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup egg white

3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 cups oats, blended to make it like a flour

3/4 cup Splenda sugar substitute

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the full recipe visit  Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Low Fat Peanut Butter Banana Bread Recipe – Food.com – 296040.

Low Carb Gluten Free Pecan Pie

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk (or milk or cream – milk has more carbs, so adjust)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 C sugar equivalent from artificial sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon dark molasses (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon

Click here for the complete recipe


Sugar Free Healthy Thanksgiving Holiday Solutions for Diabetics

Photo showing some of the aspects of a traditi...

Image via Wikipedia

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and we all like to enjoy the foods and flavors of the holiday season. This is the worst time of year for the average personal trainer when dealing with American clients. Increasingly people around the world are joining in to the holiday eating frenzy. This video did a great job of explaining some easy alternatives for people during the holidays with regards to food choices, moderation and activity. Here at Active Lifestyle, we don’t promote or endorse the sweetener featured in the video, however there are some great tips. As I have mentioned before, there are tons of alternatives to sugar out there, from using fruits like banana, to using honey or agave. Whatever you decide, enjoy your holiday and remember that making the right choices, practicing moderation and remaining active are the keys to making it through the holiday season without gaining an extra body fat.

3 Foolproof Tips to Stay Slim during the Holiday Season

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Image via Wikipedia

The holidays are here and so begins the onslaught of foods and tasty treats. Party after party is serving up snacks, pastries and drinks that are sure to get that waistline bulging. It doesn’t take long to do damage to everything you’ve worked so hard to keep in check all year as those fat cells are sitting there rubbing their grubby palms together in anticipation of extra calories to store.

Last year, I had a personal training client tell me that it was the first year in her life that she didn’t put on weight during the holidays. She awarded me the credit, but the credit belongs to her for following some simple rules during the holiday season. Now I’m here to share a few of the same tips that I gave her during the daunting holiday food festival. Read more of this post

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The Real Food Pyramid

Paleo Food Pyramid

Notice anything different about this food pyramid?  This is the Paleo food pyramid. There is a large population of people who believe in the “so called” paleo diet. That is, these people believe that man was not made to live on grains. Now I have a tendency to agree with this philosophy to a certain extent. One reason I agree is because grains were not a main source of food for early humans, especially not refined grains. The amount of refining of grains did not exist then as they do now. Claims of items being “whole grains” are just false half the time. They have been processed to some extent. Ok, why should grains be the base or foundation of a diet as the “so called” experts claim? Well, partially because they get paid to say so. The grain industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and guess what? Grains were great as filler foods, could store for long periods of time, kept people full during the harsh winters and are cheap enough to feed the masses. But why intake refined grains when you can get all the vitamins and nutrients you need from fruits and vegetables, which are REAL whole foods? Cut out the base of your normal pyramid…you’ll watch your body fat melt away…and don’t say but what should I do for carbs. What are fruits and vegetables?

11 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes | Turkey Day Sides | Reader’s Digest

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and if you’re searching for healthier alternatives to the normal, everyday side dishes then look no further than this great article full of solutions. I’m scouring the internet regularly looking for alternatives as people tend to think that the world is coming to an end if they have to eat health.

I’m hear to tell you that you don’t have to sacrifice great taste for health. This is the biggest misconception out there. You can still manage to create great tasting, healthy dishes if you are willing to try.

These 11 Thanksgiving side dishes that I found are excellent alternatives, but I would take many of the dishes one step further replacing any of the recipes that call for rice with quinoa and any of the recipes that call for flour with ground quinoa flour to give you a gluten free solution with a lower glycemic index that’s great for people trying to manage body weight and body fat as well ass diabetics.

11 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes | Turkey Day Sides | Reader’s Digest.

Getting Enough Sleep for Optimal Health?

A child sleeping.

Image via Wikipedia

Sleep is typically the last thing on a person’s mind when they are thinking about their overall health and fitness, but really sleep should be the first thing. Not getting a good night’s sleep can be a huge setback to anyone trying to lose body fat or put on muscle. Lack of sleep is a stress on the body, so when you consider the effects of stress on muscle and fat you may be surprised how much of an impact your sleeping habits may be having on reaching your goals.

As I mentioned in a previous article about stress and fat loss, your body will have a tendency to produce cortisol under stress and this hormone is directly related to fat storage. So how does lack of sleep impact the body? Well first of all when you sleep your body uses this segment of time for the repair process. This is especially important when you are active and your body is undergoing a fair bit of exercise related stress.

A Harvard Health Publication suggests six reasons to not skimp on sleep.  For one, sleep impacts learning and memory functions as well as metabolism and weight loss. Sleep has a direct impact on what’s called memory consolidation and with regards to metabolism sleep deprivation has a direct affect on some hormones that control appetite. Not only that, but sleep deprivation can alter the way your body stores carbohydrates.

Among other things sleep deprivation has an impact on mood, safety, cardiovascular health and the body’s immune function. So sleeping 4 to 6 hours per night can be very destructive not only to your health, but also your goals of losing weight and body fat.

Living an active and healthy lifestyle requires management of various factors in your life. Everything that you do has a direct impact on how your body will react. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together and understanding the relationship between what you input to your body and the output or returns is essential for your overall health and well being.

Burgers, McRibs, and a Ban on Happiness: Buzz Week in Review – Yahoo! News

McDonalds Happy Meal

Image via Wikipedia

Leave it to my hometown to be the city to set the trends for health in the United States. For as long as I can remember smoking has been banned in public establishments so when I arrive in cities or countries that have yet to ban this I tend to wonder how far behind are some of these places with regards to overall health and wellness.  I mean in San Francisco there was even a ballot measure to ban smoking in parks, pushing smoking even further away from those of us trying to enjoy fresh, clean air.

Interesting move by San Francisco to ban toys in happy meals. What’s significant about this is that the aim of the happy meal is children. As Whitney Houston said a long time ago (before her crack addiction) and I reiterate, “I believe that children are the future, teach them right and let them lead the way”. Well with regards to health and food choices we need to help our children make the right food choices.  The happy meal is no more than a marketing tool that targets children with fun toys as a lure to get them started on what will inevitably be their addiction to sugar filled fast foods…

Burgers, McRibs, and a Ban on Happiness: Buzz Week in Review – Yahoo! News.

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