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Our employees give their best tips for healthy holidays

By Maggie Brown | November 30, 2018 | Employee Spotlights

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I’ve been working hard the past several months to shed a few pounds. Truth is, I lost weight last year for my 40th birthday (you may have read about it here), and gained it back. Plus extra. It happens.

This summer I knew it was time for a change. I joined Weight Watchers at Work, and also started weight training at a Burn Boot Camp. The weight has been slow to come off, but that’s okay. I’m not looking to “diet” (besides, I’m too lazy to try keto), but instead I’m looking to make sustainable lifestyle changes.

Now the holidays are upon us, with gravy and stuffing, chocolate chess pie, and ALL the carbs. I don’t want to undo all my hard work from the past several months, but it’s difficult for me to resist a savory dip or a fruity cocktail. Not to mention how busy this time of year can get (stress eating, anyone?).

So I went to the experts for some help. By “experts” I mean my fellow Blue Cross NC employees. And as always, their advice did not disappoint! Here are some of my favorite tidbits.

Enjoy yourself, but don’t go nuts

Elizabeth in Marketing uses small plates at holiday parties. She says, “I choose veggies and lean meats first, and more savory items second. I limit myself to one small plate and one dessert.” And her go-to dessert is whipped cream with berries, or a sugar-free pudding. She’ll bring her own if she needs to.

Chelsea, one of our Social Media specialists, says the biggest thing for her is, “Not falling into the trap of, ‘Oh well, I already blew that meal, so why not just blow the entire day?’” She allows herself a planned indulgence, but doesn’t let that “cheat meal” stretch into a full day, a weekend, or the entire holiday season.

And Kristen in Compliance agrees. “The biggest thing for me is to enjoy what I’m eating, but not extending it past that one meal.” She keeps an eye on portion sizes, all while enjoying those special dishes that appear just once a year. “Plus,” she says, “It just makes you feel gross when you overeat!”

Lori in Healthcare, who has been an inspiration to me in Weight Watchers, says, “I plan on eating something healthy at home before holiday parties, so that I’m not so hungry and want to devour everything in sight.” She says she’ll keep tracking her food intake through Weight Watchers tools, and is going to focus more on the socializing at parties than the food.

Kelly in Client Health Promotion recommends this free holiday challenge through Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less. “Most Americans gain a few pounds during the holidays,” she says. “What’s cool about this program is that it helps you focus on maintaining your weight, which can be less intimidating than trying to lose weight.”

Keeping the stress at bay

One of our Nurse Case Managers, Cynthia, says she always keeps a beverage in her hand at parties (usually water!) so that sipping and socializing keep her away from the buffet table. But stress can be a factor for her. Like so many of us, Cynthia says, “Shopping for gifts, keeping up with social events and other commitments, and trying to make the holidays perfect” can make life not as merry.

She says, “To combat my mental overload, every year I keep a small notebook in my purse. I divide the notebook into sections: To-Do’s, dates (for listing activities for each date), family gift list, gift list for others, and a section of gift suggestions by person. There are also extra pages for making notes. Of course I have my iPhone calendar, but I love having this little notebook there for keeping my sanity.”

Ingrid in Healthcare says, “For me it’s all about being active. Family walks are a lovely way to spend time together, and I enjoy going out for a run for some solo time during the busy holidays!”

Alicia in Strategy says, “I’m doing the Holiday Hustle challenge at the Durham YMCA! Also continuing my early morning gym routine and working out 1-2 more times a day while I’m off work during the holidays.”

Jean in Membership also gets outside. She says, “I walk daily and set a goal of the number of steps that I want to meet on a daily basis. Walking for me relieves stress. I love to get outside and look at the beautiful colors of the sunrises and sunsets this time of year.”

Plan in advance; and stay active

Christina in Marketing says, “I allow myself to try new things and sweets, but if I don’t like them, I don’t waste good calories on them! I also use the 7 Minute Workout App from Johnson & Johnson to get a quick workout in. Everyone can find seven minutes in their day to exercise!”

Our Charlotte Center manager, Reggie Swann, has started adding a green smoothie to his day, and will continue through the holidays. Project Manager Tonya Perry agrees. She says, “The benefits are many, and will help me stay on target this season. The parties seem endless, so you have to plan in advance to be successful!”

Mark in Internal Communications says, “Go in with a strategy at holiday dinners and events – think in advance about what you’ll eat and how much. Don’t torture yourself if you eat more than usual. Keep up your physical activity.” 

Linda Neufang in Operations says she doesn’t put many restrictions on the “what” it is, but minds her portions and only gets one plate of food. She says, “I’ve found after 18 years of doing Weight Watchers that you have to exercise good judgement on the how much and how often. And don’t forgo your walk for a nap!” 

She also said this, which I will try to take to heart, and hope you will too – “Enjoy every moment. You’ll never get this holiday season back!”

So true, Linda. I have two young kids, a job, and a calendar full of holiday obligations. But I’m going to keep working out at the gym, because I always feel better when I do. And I’m not going to gorge myself, because I always feel bad when I do.

But I will most definitely have a (small) slice of chocolate chess pie.