Halloween is right around the corner – and with it comes the unofficial start of the holiday season. Soon after the pumpkins and costumes get put away we will start looking forward to that great turkey feast on Thanksgiving followed by the many holiday celebrations with friends and family during the Christmas season. The holidays can mean a downward slide for some people and their personal health and fitness goals. It does NOT have to be that way…there is no problem with a little indulgence here an there – but making good choices and being smart of about it is totally doable!!
In my house, the kiddos are totally pumped for Halloween. My 6 year old agonizes about a costume and takes, seemingly forever, to decide on what she wants to be. My three year old is excited – but I’m not sure he knows exactly what is going on. This year should be fun for them both as they are take on the neighborhood Trick or Treating! For Mom and Dad, Halloween means lots of candy lying around the house. For me in particular, this was a major issue for me in the past. When it is right in front of me, the temptation is almost overwhelming. This year however, I have a plan and I’m going to stick to it.
My strategy for Halloween is pretty basic:
1. Do not buy 2,000 bags of candy. In fact, my plan is to not buy enough candy this year!
We live in a really busy neighborhood. When we bought our house the lovely couple we bought it from told us to be prepared for Halloween because there will be many, many Trick or Treaters. We really under estimated the first year!! We had just about 300 kids, ghosts, superheroes, and witches come and knock on our door! We bought a lot of candy that year….but not that much!! We actually had to turn kids away – which made me feel horrible. So, the next year, obviously – I bought way too much candy!!
The second year – the weather was pretty terrible – there was even snow! Despite the snow and sleet we still had over 100 kiddos. I bought enough candy for like 500!! As a result, we had extra candy for days, weeks, and months! What happened to all that candy you asked?? Well, of course, it ended up in my and my hubby’s belly. It became snacks at lunch and dessert after dinner. It also served as snacks after school, before school, and anytime I wanted some. I thought I was going to turn into a Twix Mini – which I guess wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen! In the five following Halloween’s although I tried to buy less and less – I did not want to disappoint the kids.
This year we bought 2 bigger bags of mixed candy and several healthier options. I assume the kiddos will chose the good stuff – but I will sleep better knowing that I offered them some healthier options.
Here are some of our healthier Treats that I will mix in with the candy:
Fruit snacks – individual packages of fruit flavored fruit snacks. These are Target brand and were 48 packages in this box for $6.99
Boom Chicka Pop. I got 2 bags of these babies. One in Sea Salt and the other Kettle Corn. Both flavors are great and stats on these small individual bags are great! These little bags of Kettle Corn have 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of protein – not bad at all. Side note – they apparently have holiday flavors like candy corn, pumpkin spice, and frosted sugar cookie!!! Yeeeehaaaa….doesn’t sound very low carb friendly – but I’d love to find them and just try them out!!
2. Buy candy that you’re NOT in love with!
I LOVE CHOCOLATE. I would walk across a desert for a chocolate bar. I actually eat chocolate everyday now and I feel good about it, granted it’s a small amount. Now, I eat good, real chocolate that is actually food – not just sugar and oils etc. Twix Bars, Baby Ruth’s, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have always been a favorite. So, this year I tried to stay away from those kinds of candy so that I would not be totally tempted. I opted to buy things like Laffy Taffy, Sweet Tarts, Skittles, and Starburst. The thing is, I don’t have anything against these candies – I am equal opportunity when it comes to candy. However – I would not be interested in eating a whole bag or even some of these brands. I would be happy to see them all be given away and possibly even throw out the left overs!
3. Give your leftover away to Candy Buy-Back Program if your community has one.
I love this idea. Last year our local hospital – Down East Community Hospital started a program where you would bring your candy to a designated spot and trade a pound of it for a LEGO toy. The idea behind it was to bring awareness to and fight childhood obesity. They collected over 300 pounds of candy! That candy was then sent overseas to deployed troops. What an amazing concept at idea. My kids and I dropped off some candy and it felt great. I will be totally honest and say that my kiddos – at least my six year old – was not exactly pumped to be giving up her treats. However, she was happy with getting a toy and had a nice visit with her favorite Peds nurse and office staff!! I am so happy to announce that DECH is doing it again this year. You can find more information about drop off places and dates on the Down East Community Hospital Facebook page.
If your community does not have a Candy Buy-Back program you could work with a local agency to start one!! Don’t have the time for that – see if you can donate the candy to local organizations that might have some use for it. Maybe your local Veterans Home, or the Legion Hall. In the past, as a teacher, I would say just bring it to school and give it away to your students. I still might do that – but in trying to fight childhood obesity – there maybe a better option out there. That being said – everyone can use a little pick me up during the day and maybe a piece of candy could do that for one of your students!
4. If you’re real serious about staying on track – shut the lights off and go to bed early!
My family has always been big Halloween fans. So, I do not see the above being an option for us – but it certainly could be for you. Seeing less and less Trick-or-Treaters each year? Just stop buying the candy and participating!! Want to participate, but maybe not be so hands on? Buy a small bag of mixed candy put it in a bowl and place it on your porch or front steps. When it is empty, shut off the lights and enjoy the silence!
Staying on Track for the Holidays
As far as the holidays are concerned – I’ve also come up with a plan to skip over the extra holiday pounds this year! December 15th will be my one year surgery anniversary. It was pretty tough having surgery right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas season! I was surround by all the amazing smells and sights of holiday foods. I could not partake in any of them of course – being fresh out of surgery I was on only liquids. I can tell you – watching your family indulge on the all the goodness of a Christmas meal while eating strained cream of chicken soup was NO fun at all. However, in the long run, I made a good choice and I’m at a place now where I’m OK with sitting down at a big meal and enjoying what I can and getting up and walking away!
Here is my plan to stay on track for the Holidays….
1. Set Goals.
In the beginning of October I took a few minutes to write down some goals that I wanted to achieve for the month. Looking back at them now as we are rounding out the month of October – I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking and achieving them. I admit I did buy 2 new pairs of pants and 2 sweaters. However, I had a lot, and I mean a lot of opportunity to buy clothes this month and I did not take those opportunities. For me, that’s a win. Having the goals written down and in a space where I can look at them daily really helped me to stay the course. I downloaded a sticky note app for my phone and used that to record my goals. I than placed that “sticky note” right on my phone’s home page. Every time I look at my phone – which is probably too often – I see my goals and am reminded to keep working.
Setting goals is an easy way to to focus your attention and gives you something to work toward. I am already thinking about my goals for November. One thing to keep in mind about goals is to make them simple. When setting goals for the month – I want to focus on small things that are feasible. For example in October – one of my goals was to drink 4 bottles of water a day. I’ve done that almost every day this month. That is something small to work on. Do not let your goals overwhelm you. Set them and stick to them the best that you can. Remember that it is all part of the process. If you don’t succeed 100% this month – try again next month. Celebrate the progress you made and try harder next month to achieve it. You don’t have to be perfect every second of the day. That being said – the object is to stick to them as best as you can!! I like to stick the stress to the long term goals.
2. Move More.
I was thinking today while I was out for my afternoon run – that I was really going to miss running outside in the winter. However, I know that in order to continue being successful on this journey….I have to do something! The holidays are the perfect time to ramp it up!
Three years ago right after Halloween I took my first Aqua Zumba class. Instead of staying home and eating those left over peanut butter cups…I hit the pool. I loved the class and thought it was a good way to mix it up over the winter months. I would highly suggest trying out new classes, doing a new circuit at the gym, or even trying out a new piece of equipment in the fitness room. Figure out what you like and don’t like – but at least try something. If you know you have a party or gathering coming up where the food and wine will be flowing – get an extra workout in.
My team recommends that you do cardio 4 – 6 times per week for 30 minutes at a time at a moderate rate. Most exercise classes are about an hour long. Do 2 of those and maybe walk on a treadmill or use the Elliptical the other 2 day and you’ll be winning! If you know you are going to a party – maybe add another day on the machines. Balance it out…it does work!
3. Be Picky
If you know you are going to a party or gathering where the eats are going to be divine – be picky about what you are going to cheat with. Let’s slow it down for a moment and talk about the word cheat – I hate it. I don’t feel like I am cheating – I feel like I am living my life. You have to live, you are human and you are going to eat something that is off your path and that’s OK. When I say be picky – what I mean is try something that you have never tried before. If you’re going to indulge make it totally worth it. Have the small slice of your aunts incredible homemade cheese cake which she only makes once a year – rather than your mom’s deviled eggs which she makes for every family gathering. Try the authentic boozy egg nog at the office Christmas party rather than the Mimosas that you can have at any Sunday brunch.
Also think about this – if you’re going to have a “cheat meal” – again I hate this terminology – allow it to be just that – one meal, cocktail, or snack. Don’t turn it into a “cheat day, weekend, week, or even month.” It happens – believe me, it happens. I firmly believe that you have to indulge in order to satisfy your tummy and your brain. You can’t feel like you are denying yourself…for me, that’s how I get discouraged and off track. Just eat it, bite it, drink it and continue to breath and live. Tomorrow you will wake up and get back on track!
4. Bring the Healthy Snack to the Party
Have you been invited to a gathering?? Do you want to go but are worried you won’t be able to eat anything there. Do you think there will not be anything that “fits” into your lifestyle? No worries – bring something that you can eat and share with everyone else. Look – there are more health conscious people out there than you think. In fact, many people are fighting the same battles that you are. Chances are, there will be food you can eat at the party. To ensure this – make and bring something that you like and that you want others to try. Have you been into a certain cheese, dip, or cracker – make a plate and bring it along. At the very least, you will know that you can munch on that and feel satisfied. Make a fruit bowl with a greek yogurt dipping sauce. Here is one that take 2 minutes to make and actually is high in protein. I am finding that pretty much anywhere I go I can make what is being served fit into my #lowcarb life. I also do make sure to bring along something in my purse in case I can’t…fail to plan, plan to fail!
Here are some other healthy snack ideas that have been working for me at home and even on the road…
Trail Mix …
I love this snack and I eat it almost everyday – ok -EVERYDAY. To make this, I buy the small 8.75 ounce bag of Deluxe Mixed Nuts, a 5 ounce bag of dried cranberries, and the big old bag of Ghirardelli 60% Caco Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. I put the whole bag of nuts in a bowl and 1/4 cup of each the chocolate chips and cranberries in and mix it all up. Then when I’m ready to eat it – I scoop out a 1/4 cup serving and enjoy the heck out of it! It’s delish, has protein, and is #lowcarb. It is the perfect snack to throw in a sandwich bag and put in your backpack and have if you need a quick salty and sweet treat. Make some now – you’ll LOVE IT!!
Chocolate Dipped Banana Nut Butter Treats…
These little babies are super easy to make and taste so good!! Basically, you take one large banana and cut into rounds. Next – put some nut butter on one side and sandwich. I LOVE peanut butter of all varieties right now. I could eat my weight in peanut butter – it would take awhile, but I could do it. For these treats – I used freshly ground Honey Roasted Peanut Butter. You can grind your own at a Whole Foods. I bought this tub at the Natural Living Center in Bangor – love that place! I also used regular old peanut butter on half. Once they are sandwiched – place them in the freezer for about an hour. Once frozen solid – melt some good chocolate and dip half the treat in the chocolate place on plate and put back in the freezer for another hour. Friendly tip -if you use the toothpick to help with the dipping process – remove it before you put them back in the freezer!! These are kid friendly too – my 6 year old loves to help me make them!!
That’s all I have for this week!! As always, I hope that you’ve found something useful here and maybe even something to pass along. If you have any comments, questions, or want to see me cover something specific – please feel free to comment!! Thank you so much for reading!!