Monday, December 12, 2005

Surviving the Holiday Parties

This is the perfect season to gain weight. There are so many decadent treats out there, it's hard to say no to one more cookie, or a small second helping of lasagna (that's my vice, anyway). If there was just one party to attend we might have a fighting chance, but there are tons of parties to go to, each one a gastronomic sin in the making. Lucky for us it's already the middle of December, and it's almost over, but there are little things we can do to make sure that we don't overdose on mom's fruitcake and end up beaching ourselves in front of the television. By the way, not all fruitcake is gross - my mother's is perfect.

The primary problem with the holiday season is all the food. Before you go to a party, have a snack. Heck, have a huge salad if it will stop you from eating the fatty appetizers. It's better to eat less and risk being thought rude than eating it all and regretting it later. Also, find the vegetable tray and park yourself in front of it - but don't load up on the dip! Have a little, but try to remember that the carrot is not simply a vessel for the ranch dressing. My best advice to you, especially when you're not sure exactly what might be in that safe-looking and yet terribly-fattening snack, is to make something to bring with you that you know is within your diet's parameters. That way you've brought something to share with everyone else, but you have a safe food that you know you can eat. This is a fantastic recipe - tastes great but won't go directly to your thighs. That said, I'd also like to advocate for a little fun, too. Go ahead and have a stuffed mushroom - just don't have ten of them. That's where the holidays get really fattening.

The other side of the holiday girth problem is that it's winter now the snow is falling in many places, and you're getting less exercise than you used to. The weather isn't always great for a nice walk to your favorite store, snow days keep you in the house and people tend to get more sedentary. Why not take advantage of all those delightful cold-weather activities that will get your heart rate up a little and help to burn off your Aunt Martha's potato latkes? Ice skating is great - you pay so much attention to not yard sale-ing yourself on the ice that you don't even realize the workout you're getting. You wake up the next morning and your thighs are sore - success! A note: if you ice skate in a circle, and continue to go in the same direction the entire time, you'll only work one leg. Switch if you can, or you might risk little-leg-big-leg syndrome. Downhill skiing is a fun way to get a little exercise. You could even go sledding with your younger relative, because while the downward slide is not calorie-burning, walking back up the hill certainly is. Even better, and probably easily accesible, is to shovel the snow for people, perhaps an elderly neighbor. That is a real workout, only requires one very cheap piece of equipment, and is a nice thing to do for the little old lady next door. With a little thought it's easy to come up with ways to keep active in the colder months. Just don't overdo it on the hot cocoa when you come back inside!