The food fest and post feast coma is over. It’s the second day into the holiday season, the time of year most prone to overeating and weight gain. On top of that, it’s another day closer to finals if you’re a student, meaning crunched time and tons of stress. Don’t let this weigh you down, both figuratively and literally! Here are my top tips for beating holiday & finals weight gain.
The Post Thanksgiving Recovery Plan
If you’re like me, every year you make a plan to enjoy yourself but not overeat on Thanksgiving. However, that plan never works out when stuffing and pumpkin pie stares you in the face. Or maybe you didn’t stick to your pre-Thanksgiving plan as well as you could have. If you’re fairly conscious of what you consume, then you probably didn’t overindulge in 3000 calories like the rest of the population, but you still want to work off some of that turkey day binge. The best way? Don’t feel guilty about what you ate, go back to eating normally, and get a solid, hard workout or two in between Friday and Sunday. That could be going for a nice fall run, a spin class, yoga, a Tabata workout, weigh training, or a combination of all of the above. Get your sweat on and plan on burning off at least 500 calories. For me? I’m doing some core work and a run on Friday and a Cross fit workout on Saturday.
Another thing— avoid the Thanksgiving deja-vu binge on leftovers. Thanksgiving is a one-day holiday not a weeklong eating marathon.
The Finals Preparation Guide
Nutrition is key to power you through the last few weeks of the semester. I can remember my freshman year, falling off the healthy eating bandwagon when I got to stressed and tired. I turned to excessive amounts of coffee, fro-yo, and sodium-filled microwavable meals. The result? An even more stressed out and tired Laura who was bloated and shaky, and as a result couldn’t study effectively. A friend of mine recently passed her MCAT test and she recommended me this website called ExamGenius than helps you prepare yourself for important exams. This is what she used to get a book that helped her a lot: https://examgenius.org/best-mcat-prep-books/
While it may seem impossible to eat healthy when you need to study 24/7, it is possible to prepare yourself with healthy snacks options to bring with you to the library. These come in handy too when you have to go on long shopping trips for gifts after school gets out! Here are some of my favorite grab-and-go options.
-Lara Bars or KIND Bars
-Celery with a sunflower butter pack
-Greek yogurt/cottage cheese with some walnuts
-Chopped peppers and whole wheat pita with humus and Salsa
-Trader Joe’s Go Raw Trek Mix Individual Packs
If your only option is a vending machine in the library, try sunflower seeds, nuts (unsalted if they have them), whole-wheat pretzels, or a granola bar. It’s not ideal, but sometimes you have bargain. If you get seeds or nuts, just remember portion sizes. Another thing to remember if you drink a lot of coffee during this time of year— the cream/milk and sugar, if you use them, will add up. They are not invisible calories.
As for workouts during finals week, I of all people know it can be difficult. During an especially hard semester you may have to compromise and just focus on eating healthy. For me, exercise comes as a break, and although I usually cut down my workout time to 45 minutes, I still include it to help refocus myself. I like to do a set up sprints and then go straight into a high intensity weight training circuit. If you are really pressed for time, take a 5-minute tabata workout break three times throughout the day, go on a 20 minute run, or set your alarm a half hour early to get in a booty call. Anything is better than nothing.
Question of the day: What snacks do your bring with you to the library or out on a long day? What is your go to vending machine snack?