Researchers find that half of annual FAT GAIN in the U.S. occurs during the holiday period. Most of this fat is retained indefinitely!

Many people believe they need to sacrifice enjoyment for health. However, with these ten tips you can have your cake and eat it (figuratively speaking).

1. Eat More

belcampoThe most common reaction to weight gain is to starve yourself / count calories. However, this approach is not very successful. Researchers have shown that although you may see short term weight loss from dieting, one year later you end up heavier than when you started. The conclusion? “Don’t go on a diet” – UCLA, April 2007.

This time of year when we have the most temptations, is the worst time to be hungry and have cravings. Instead, just eat more healthy food – this will mean than when the temptations arise, you’ll find it easier to resist or just indulge in moderation. Protein and healthy fats are very satiating and don’t cause blood sugar imbalances which lead to cravings.

Top fillers: Avocado, Meat, Olives, Cheese.

2. Savor & Enjoy

Become a health connoisseur! There are so many ways to really enjoy and satisfy your taste buds. Going to a tasting will cause you to focus and appreciate the subtleties of flavor in foods. As your palate improves, your need for sugar and sweetness will diminish… whilst increasing the pleasure of taste. E.g. Cheese, Olives, Oysters, Sashimi, Cured meats, etc.
FH Recommendation: Belcamo in Grand Central Market: They have world-class flavors and their burger (ask for lettuce wrapped) has been nominated to be the best in America. Also highly recommended is their smoked ham – the best we’ve ever tasted!

Tea & Coffee:

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Most coffee houses have turned into sugar dispensers with a shot of expresso. However, there’s a new wave of gourmet coffee houses in L.A. We’re spoiled in Downtown with Barista SocietyG&B CoffeeBlue BottleStumptown and Spring for Coffee. Coffee tasting is available at Blue Bottle at 4pm on Tuesdays and at Stumptown at noon on Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun. Also try great teas: With places like Urth Caffe open until 11pm, it a great social alternative to a boring bar.
FH Favorite: COLD BREW – Cold brew is not just iced coffee, this is a method where the coffee is soaked in water for over 12 hours and never heated. This reduces acid and therefore bitterness by 70%. This is an excellent way to cut out milk/sugar/sweeteners in your beverage!
Top Tip: Go to a tasting this week!

3. Sleep Deeply

Quality of sleep is very important for health. We’re now part of a mass experiment of sleeping 2 to 3 hours less than we did only decades ago. One issue is the lack of producing melatonin. If you expose yourself to ‘blue light’ before bedtime, your production will be very low.
  • Block the Blue Light: ‘Blue Light’ is part of the light spectrum during daylight that signals the body to stay awake and alert. In our modern lifestyle, we are subjected to blue light right up to the time we sleep through our TV sets, laptops, phones, etc. This suppresses the production of Melatonin – an important hormone that causes us to sleep and lowers body temperature. By wearing ‘blue-blocking’ glasses for two to three hours before bedtime, you can vastly increase Melatonin levels and have a much better sleep cycle. Our circadian rhythm is vital for health. Search ‘blue blocking glasses’ on Amazon for options. Also apps like ‘fl.ux’ to reduce the blue light from your computer/laptop at nighttime.
  • Optimum Sleeping Conditions: For great quality sleep, blocking out all light – having a pitch dark room helps. That also means any blinking LED lights, etc. Also keeping the temperature low – between 62 to 68 degrees. This also helps to increase your metabolism and burn more fat.
  • Take a hot bath with Epsom Salts (magnesium) can help relax the muscles. Also taking a magnesium supplement can help relax the body (Up to 80% of people are deficient in magnesium).
  • Play relaxing music / mediation or other activities that calm the mind (try not to watch the news / high action TV or late night work that induces stress).

4. Be Active

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With cooler temperature and shorter darker days, you may feel less motivated to exercise. However, instead of fighting against the holiday vibes, work with it by exploring the city this time of year. This will help your circulation and warm up on the cool days.
  • Hikes / walks / sightseeing / window shopping / etc. Holiday time is a great time to catch up with family and friends. Rather than meeting in a bar or cafe, go somewhere interesting. This time of year the malls and streets are lit up with beautiful holiday decorations. Walk down Rodeo Drive, go the mall, etc. Be a tourist in your home town!
  • HIT. Some high intensity exercise can boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours! Of course we recommend the twenty minute workout at Future Health, but even freestyle squats can work. Do 60 seconds as fast as you can, rest for a minute, then repeat two more times. This workout is complete in 5 minutes. (always check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise routine)

5. Plan ahead

There may be many events/parties over the holiday period and this can be the most challenging time to stay healthy. Of course if it’s only one or two meals, for most people that is not an issue. However, if these events build up, it can seriously disrupt your healthy lifestyle. With some clever planning, a lot of this can be avoided. Here are some tips:
  • If you’re going to a holiday dinner or party, if it’s appropriate – bring a dish or two! The host may be very grateful for the help!
  • If possible, check the menu beforehand. If it’s a restaurant, you can always call beforehand and ask for special requests (say it’s for health reasons).
  • Eat a snack or meal before going out. This will ensure you’re not too hungry and makes it easier to avoid the temptations or at least have them in moderation.
  • Decide beforehand what you’re going to do. If you just play it by ear… you’re probably going to overindulge. E.g. How many parties you’re going to drink at / how many drinks / etc.

6. Be Adventurous

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There’s so much to do in L.A. – rather than the boring bars and restaurants, try more exciting social events.

7. Flow Activities

Some people have the mindset that in order to be healthy, you must sacrifice enjoyment. However, you can ensure you don’t miss out on that holiday feeling by experiencing more ‘flow’.
Flow is an innately positive experience; it is known to “produce intense feelings of enjoyment”. There are certain activities that lend themselves to flow. Matching your skill level with the level of difficulty, combined with concentration can help achieve flow. Activities that are ‘autotelic’ (that you do for it’s own sake and not for ulterior motives) produce flow more often. In simple terms, do the hobbies you enjoy! I.e. Sailing, rock climbing, photography, learning, dancing, yoga, singing, creating music, etc.

8. Create Healthy Holiday Treats!

A lot of flavors that we associate with holidays and being indulgent, can actually be healthy. Here are some sweet and savory holiday treats:

  • holidaytreatsChocolate. Dark chocolate (70% or more) is low glycemic, contains magnesium, antioxidants and improves blood flow.
  • Cinnamon. This is great to help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. Add this to make healthy pancakes: Blend up eggs, cinnamon and plantains (or almond flour for a low carb option)
  • Chai Tea Latte made with unsweetened almond milk / coconut milk.
  • Bone Broth – a nice warm hearty savory drink filled with minerals and collagen for healthy skin, joints and bones.
  • Look up some paleo or low carb recipes for further ideas and use stevia as a sweetener.

9. Boost your Immune System

This time of year we tend to catch colds or flus more easily. To boost your immune system, here are three nutrients that may help:

  • Vitamin D. One reason why we tend to get colds in the winter is that our Vitamin D levels are lower due to reduced sun exposure. The best way to get more is to make an extra effort to get some sun exposure. Alternatively, the next most natural form of Vitamin D is taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This also includes Vitamin A, E, K and Omega 3 EFA’s.
  • Zinc. Zinc can half the recovery time from colds. Taking oysters can boost your levels of zinc and immune function.
  • Magnesium. 80% of us are deficient in magnesium. Also alcohol can deplete us from magnesium and gives us the ‘jitters’. Magnesium is great for your metabolism and also relaxes your muscles.

10. Be Happy!

While stress can negatively impact our health, being happy will boost your health! Don’t be a scrooge… or a grinch… get into the holiday spirit and enjoy and savor the season!

  • Appreciation. Thinking of all the things in your life to be appreciative of… family, friends, health, etc. We are living in an amazing world surrounded by fantastic inventions. Whether it’s appreciating a cup of coffee, the food you eat or the things you have, being more appreciative will increase your level of happiness.
  • Watch ‘feel good’ movies, read ‘feel good’ stories and listen to ‘feel good’ music. From ‘A Wonderful Life’ to ‘Pleasantville” A Christmas Carol to A Miracle on 34th Street (can always get books on audio for your commute to work!); Nat King Cole to this year’s holiday hits.
  • Give back. Whether it’s helping a friend or a charity, giving back is a great act of appreciation.

FH Favorite: Cool Earth – http://www.coolearth.org buy an acre of Rainforest and save trees, people and oxygen!