Face it. The deck is stacked against your waistline during the holidays. And there are scientific reasons for that. But the good news is, knowing why you crave those delicious holiday cookies can help you resist them. So what's behind the cravings?
Serotonin, which is produced by your brain, is the "feel-good" hormone. When your brain produces enough of it, serotonin can help you feel calm, confident, and relaxed. Several factors encourage its production. A primary driver is sunlight. In the bright days of spring and summer, sunshine stimulates your brain to produce plenty of serotonin. But during the short days of fall and winter, your brain needs extra stimulation to produce enough serotonin. Now here's the bad news, and you can probably guess what it is.
You crave sugar and carbs because they stimulate serotonin production.
It's not enough that grandma's decadent holiday calorie-bombs are insanely delicious. No. At this time of year, your impulses drive you to attack holiday desserts like a brain-dead cookie monster just to get your serotonin fix.
Not necessarily. That's because you can spur serotonin production in other ways. For example, did you know exercise supports serotonin production? It's true.
When you look at the big picture, most of the steps you can take to avoid gaining weight happen in your head, not your stomach. That's why you can think your way out of weight gain, regardless of how your brain encourages you to be bad around fattening foods.
Now's the time to plan ahead.
Remember that a holiday is just a day. You don't really want to undo weeks of sensible eating with a day of crazed eating, do you? And remember, even if you give in for 24 hours, it's not the end of the world. Just take a breath and think when you're within striking distance of holiday goodies. Trying these helpful tips can help you keep your inner Cookie Monster under control. Happy holidays!
"8 Lower-Calorie Holiday Cocktails"
"8 Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Pounds"
"7 Key Foods to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Workout"
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It's the most stressful time of the year. (Do you remember when that line had "wonderful" in it?) Let's face it, the holidays are stressful. But we'll get through them. We always do. This year, let's do it in style.
First, it helps if you know your enemy. According to the American Psychological Association, lack of money and the pressure of gift-giving are the most significant contributors to holiday stress (61 percent and 42 percent, respectively). These are followed closely by lack of time (34 percent) and good ol' credit card debt (23 percent).
Roughly 20 percent of us are worried that holiday stress will negatively affect our health, and more than a third of us will turn to food or alcohol to cope. On the upside, nearly half of us attempt to use exercise and/or spiritual activities to relieve stress.
These statistics suggest that we're aware of the situation. So why is it such a problem? Probably because we roll them into one big mess in our heads and allow it to paralyze us, causing us to be reactive instead of proactive. Another factor is articles like this one (but not this one, of course). Most of them advise us not to spend more than we can afford, to get some exercise, or to spend some time by ourselves, or any number of activities that if we could do, we wouldn't be stressed out in the first place. Basically, they just add to our already skyrocketing stress level!
So let's reshuffle the deck and come up with some new ways to take the edge off.
"Your 10-Point Plan for Holiday Diet Success"
"10 Ways to a New You"
"Top 10 Inspirational Fitness Films"
Now you can power up your P90X workouts for even better results with the P90X App for iPhone. Interactive features make it fun and easy to stay motivated and accountable so you can push through your plateaus like never before. Plus, you can conveniently track your reps and weights, view your customized progress reports, log your nutrition, and share your amazing results. Click below to see the video.
Chill 3/4 cup of the evaporated milk in the freezer for 30 minutes (to make it easier to whip). In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together skim milk, remaining 3/4 cup evaporated milk, eggs, and sugar. Rinse whisk in hot water to ensure that no bacteria from the egg remain. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture on stove constantly for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. (Do NOT boil.) Remove pan from heat; transfer mixture to a large bowl and let cool for several minutes. Place chilled evaporated milk and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk together until slightly thickened. (If you prefer, you can substitute 1/2 cup of rum or brandy for vanilla.) Add contents of this bowl to egg mixture and whisk for a few more minutes, until frothy. Refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If eggs begin to coagulate, strain mixture to remove solids. Top with ground nutmeg before serving. Makes 12 servings.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (mixing), 30 minutes (prechilling), 4 hours to 24 hours (chilling)
Nutritional Information: (per serving)
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†Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and muscle definition.
Please consult with a physician before beginning any exercise program.
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