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Just Do It This Holiday Season

Enjoying friends and family around the holidays is synonymous with good food and drinks, so you may be seeing a lot of articles right now on how to avoid being a complete glutton. I find the Do's more useful than Dont's, so I've included my favorite ones below. The goal is to enjoy yourself throughout the holidays by eating well and feeling great!

Photo credit: Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital's employee holiday luncheon

Don’t starve yourself before an event. Do drink plenty of fluids and eat lightly with foods like fresh fruit, Greek yogurt or whole grain toast with nut butter.

Don’t hang near the food and booze. Hovering over snack bowls or socializing near the dessert table or bar almost guarantees that you will overeat. Do plant yourself away from tempting tables and keep your mouth busy by talking: catch up with folks you rarely see or enjoy the special time with friends. Carry one drink and a small plate of food as you socialize, so people won’t offer you more.

Don’t shovel in the food. Do focus on enjoying your food and wait at least 20-30 minutes before reaching for more. It really does take about 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach “all set!”

Don’t deprive yourself of what you really want. If you’re dying for a scoop of the bacon cheddar mashed potatoes or a chocolate-dipped peppermint truffle, have some; otherwise the next day you may feel cheated and overeat something else. Do keep portions small. You will appreciate rich foods more if you chew a portion thoroughly and slowly, savoring the flavors.  

Don’t punish yourself with exercise. If you try to double your workout time and intensity, you may feel entitled to eat more as a reward, possibly negating the effects of your workout. Do continue exercising with your usual routine throughout the holidays, even on the day of.

Don’t keep leftovers in the house if you’re hosting a party. Do keep plates or disposable containers and foil on hand to encourage guests to take home a plate of food.

Don’t berate yourself if you overdid it (especially if you enjoyed yourself!). Do start the next day by returning to your healthy eating and exercise routine. One event will not affect your health and weight; your body will forgive you once you get back on track.


The Meta Effect: Starting with One Small Change

I've partnered with Meta, a new line of wellness products by P&G, that is on a mission to encourage Americans to begin a journey of small steps towards better health. Last month, the brand initiated a year-long wellness partnership with the City of Memphis as well as a national sweepstakes hosted on the Meta Facebook page. Memphis has ranked among the unhealthiest cities in the past few years by Newsweek and the American College of Sports Medicine. But this home of the blues and delicious BBQ is also a community determined and ripe for change, and it is starting with the idea of taking small healthy steps, what they like to call the Meta Effect.

“Memphis has seen great revitalization in recent years, but we still need to work on making better health an attainable goal for everyone,” says Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “I believe Memphis is a city of action and I know this community will rise to the challenge." 

Latreal Mitchell leading a cycling class with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr, and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr

In October, Meta hosted a kickoff event for the Memphis community that included an opportunity to meet Latreal “La” Mitchell, celebrity fitness trainer to brand spokesperson Michael Strahan, for fitness and nutrition advice as well as to join her in a fun, intense workout in a cycling studio. 

When I visited Meta's Facebook page for the sweepstakes, I read many inspiring changes people were making. To enter, they had to post an answer to the question, "What's one small step you've taken to be healthier?" Some people lost a few pounds; others lost more than 100 pounds, all with practical simple steps. Taking the stairs, walking every night after dinner, portioning dinner plates with 3/4 veggies then 1/4 lean protein, drinking water or herbal tea instead of soda. I especially loved one woman's comment that she just stopped making excuses!

You can enter the 2nd half of Meta's sweepstakes until December 21, 2014 if you answer the question, "What's one small way you stay healthy during the holidays?" Two 1st prize winners will receive a premium tablet, wearable fitness tracker, Meta products, and gift card for athletic apparel. The grand prize winner will get all of the above plus a 3-day 2-night stay in New York City, a personal training session with Latreal Mitchell in New York City, and tickets to a TV taping to see Michael Strahan live in action on his set.

How do I try to stay healthy during the next two months, which is my favorite time of year? I avoid all the goodies and sweet treats at the office, church and just about everywhere else, but on Thanksgiving and Christmas day I allow myself whatever I want. I believe that it's not the eating on those two holidays, but all the eating around those holidays that causes problems. If I attend parties between those holidays, I generally stick to the MyPlate guidelines of lots of veggies, lean protein and some starch. And it doesn't hurt to keep moving...climbing stairs, taking an extra Zumba class, holiday shopping at the mall—it all counts! 

Visit Meta's Facebook page to enter the Meta Sweepstakes and share your healthy tip. For official rules, click here

To enter a comment on the sweepstakes post on Meta’s Facebook page with a small step you've taken to be healthier this holiday, include the hashtag #MetaEffectSweeps and tag @MetaWellness1 to receive one (1) entry into that corresponding Entry Period’s random drawing.

Disclosure: I've partnered with P&G on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more information at MetaWellness.com.


Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

This fall the temperatures have been pretty mild. Usually I'm in full swing with baking and simmering by the end of October but so far I've used the crock pot only once and baked twice. When I saw a recipe on MyFitnessPal (who knew this site featured some great recipes?) for a Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad, I knew it would fit well for a mellow autumn day. Warm, roasted seasonal vegetables and a fall fruit atop refreshing salad greens. I've never roasted beets beforewow they were so delicious (just a little messy dealing with all the red beet juice when chopping it up). My only changes to the recipe were leaving out the raisins and orange zest, and changing the pecans to walnuts. I also used regular black chia seeds instead of white (the nutritional value is the same by the way).

Honestly, I wasn't expecting the salad to taste as amazing as it was. 

The crunch of the walnuts and chia seeds contrasted the soft roasted rich vegetables, and the maple cinnamon dressing was suprisingly light and not too sweet. The crispy pear complemented the flavors of the entire salad. Yum!

It was such a refreshing, satisfying salad with so many memorable flavors that I actually closed my eyes to better focus on them. Try out this salad if you're practicing mindful eating strategies: chewing slowly and thoroughly, noticing how the flavors blend and evolve the more you chew each bite, and feeling gratitude for such a wonderful meal.