By Laurie Searle
Laurie SearleThe holidays can come and go in a blur. Here are some tips to make the memories last and the extra party pounds stay away by being mindful in the present and holiday joy.

1. Small snacks keep you from over doing it later on in the day or when it’s party time. If you are holiday shopping or preparing for multiple parties fuel yourself in preparation. Find a small mix of protein, fat and carbs to curb your hunger when you are in line at the cash wrap or buffet table. When shopping for presents keep a bottle of water, string cheese, 100-calorie pack of almonds and a wedge of a single wrapped chocolate in your purse. When the blood sugar dips sip some water. If you feel woozy from being over-heated or in over-crowded spaces grab those almonds. Feeling frazzled and stressed – suck on the chocolate and let it melt in your mouth. A little healthy fat like avocado on a cracker with some Gomasaio (sesame, seaweed and sea salt), apple or banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter or some grapes and low fat string cheese will keep your metabolism steady, digestive fire stoked and keep you from dipping into the chips and dip. You will be able to steer clear of free samples or high calorie and fat temptations at parties if you are well satiated already.

2. Make sure you get up early on party day to get a work out in. If you know it will be a late one and you won’t be able to work out the following day – make that time for yourself the day of. Plan a hike or speed walk/jog with a pal that is going to the event and mentally prep or chat about the fun you will have that night. It’s always good to visualize how YOU want an evening to go and what better way to do that than with a pal. Get yourself psyched up for a good time with your partner, friends and kids!

3. Sneak in workouts during your busy holiday schedule. While shopping for your family or stuck in traffic, I like the water bottle bicep curl while jammed on the 10 Freeway or pushups on the wheel of the car. I carry a jump rope with me and do some jumps in between pick ups/drop offs and errands. It makes you break a tiny sweat and boosts your energy while keeping you burning calories all day. If you don’t have a jump rope, pretend you do and phantom jump! Go for 10 sets of 50. It goes by quickly when you set the goal.

4. For every glass of wine or cocktail at a holiday shindig, chug a glass of water. Seriously, it will keep your happy buzz and keep you hydrated as well. On that note, if you plan on drinking on a certain night – take some milk thistle – one capsule of 150 Mg at night and another in the AM with an aspirin and drink water and coconut water (no added sugar) during the day and you won’t feel ‘hung’ over the following day. Hydration is underrated and the more pure water you drink whether it’s from Whole Foods, Electrolyte infused, Ph. balance or, wait for it (I’ve been desperate at times) from the Tap–it’s ALL good. Water is water. Don’t judge it, just drink it and you will feel the difference and clarity within the buzz of festivity if you do.

5. Between parties and events take a day where you eat only whole foods- nothing processed to balance out the indulgence days. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains, that’s it. Then, when it’s game time –
be mindful when eating. Sometimes parties with friends or family can be awkward and it triggers nervous eating. Having something to do while navigating being social is nice but save that for talking and engaging.
If you are nervous, find a tiny plate and fill it up with just veggies and nosh between chatting to chew or keep nerves at bay. Focus on what others are saying and digest that first. Eating can distract you and definitely confuse the mind as to whether you are hungry or full. But at least you are filling yourself with hydrating, vitamin filled nutrients while doing so.

If you are still hungry and want to indulge a bit, take time to peruse the offerings. Take in the smells and presentation of what is put forth. Make this moment a part of the conversation with others. Food is a main reason people get together so be grateful in it.

Then pick three small bits of your favorite. You don’t have to enjoy just one dessert or savory treat. You can enjoy more than one in a small variety. Take time to eat it. Enjoy the taste and consistency and combination of flavors that make up this holiday dish.
Observe how you feel in the moment and let the food be a little party in your mouth. Then talk about it!

Experience MindFULLness as opposed to bellyFULLness.

Remember, just because it’s the holidays and there is more celebration– the most important thing is you, your family and the closest people you hold dear. You are the gift that keeps on giving so while the schedule is all over the place– keep some of your routines as consistent as possible to keep you grounded – sleep, exercise, hydration, smile and take in the spirit of the time for yourself. It is just as important as taking time to celebrate with others.

Laurie Searle has been teaching yoga and fitness training for almost two decades.