Holidays are a time for family, fun and, of course, food — which doesn't mean you have to throw all your hard work to the wayside. The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney, Season 4 winner Bill Germanakos and Couples contestant Nicole Brewer offer some tips to stay healthy during the holidays and beyond.
Treat Thanksgiving like any other day
It's easy to use any holiday — especially those that revolve around food — as a "cheat" day, so Germanakos suggests treating it as "just another day." Just because many people gain a few pounds during the holidays, "it does not give you a free lease to go ahead and ruin what you work so hard for all year long," he says. "It's a matter of taking some precautions and trying not to overdo it." Newlywed Brewer makes sure she doesn't deprive herself. "I definitely have a spoonful of everything so I can feel like I had Thanksgiving dinner, but I don't go for a second plate."
Filling up on the good stuff
Fill up on healthier options, leaving little room for the higher calorie items. Sweeney does this by eating the "good stuff first ... and I don't eat too much of the indulgences." Germanakos similarly advises: "Eat a regular breakfast so you're not starving when you get to grandma's house and concentrate on loading up your plate with the vegetables and the lean meat first, and if you have a little left for the high-carb items, even just a taste of a couple different desserts, then that's in your best interest."
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Eat slowly and hydrate
Chowing down at high speeds often leads to eating more. "Take your time," Sweeney says. "Enjoy your family. If you slow down and drink water while you're eating, you're going to find you're eating less than you would if you're fighting for seconds." Germanakos agrees that drinking "a lot of water before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner" can reduce liquid calories, such as alcohol and eggnog.
Healthy holiday recipes
Even classic recipes can be transformed into healthier alternatives. Brewer makes a cornbread stuffing with lean Italian turkey sausage instead of pork sausage to reduce the calories and fat.
If all else fails
Even if you do indulge too much, Sweeney says not to worry about it. "Make time for the gym ... take a halftime away from the football game and take some time to work out."
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Working out in the winter
The impending cold weather often relegates our workouts to the indoors, but just because the temperature is falling, doesn't mean you can't exercise outside. Brewer, who has lived in New York for more than 15 years, says it's all about layering. "I get at least three of my workouts each week, outside. Whether it's cycling or running, as long as I'm layered-up I can still work out in the winter."
Plowing through a plateau
Once the holidays end, switch it up. For Brewer, high-intensity interval training worked. "I was getting my heart rate up and bringing it down. I started running faster and then slower, uphill and then downhill, and that really made me get through my plateau." Germanakos says if you "change it up, shock your body all over again," that can help the scale to start moving again.
Don't let the scale dictate your life
If despite all your efforts, the number just won't budge, remember: It's not always about what those digits say. Brewer says she and husband (and fellow contestant) Damien "have so much to celebrate so [what] if the scale says something a little different from that finale day? Me and Damien both feel so much healthier, so much more alive than a year ago." Germanakos adds: "As long as the clothes are fitting ... my house is now off-limits to all scales by the way."
The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now? special airs Wednesday, Nov 25, at 8/7c on NBC.