Surely you know Esther Blum from her fab website Living Gorgeous or her bestseller classic Eat, Drink, and be Gorgeous. She also provides wonderful tips on her Living Gorgeous Facebook page. (“Like” it!)
I knew Esther would have some cool tricks up her sleeve. I mean, how could you not love a nutritionist who knows how to navigate the hippest social functions healthily? That’s why she was my go-to for holiday survival party tactics.
As I read over her answers, I realized these fantastic strategies work perfectly any time, not just during the holidays:
De-Bloat Yourself. We all want to show up to a holiday party looking lean and fabulous, right? Holidays are a less than ideal time to have a hard time zipping into your new pencil skirt. But what happens when you’ve been hitting the salt and sugar or have PMS? Then it’s time to make some changes pronto! Drink dandelion tea throughout the day for gentle diuretic benefits. Unsweetened cranberry juice diluted in water also provides diuretic benefits, as does eating asparagus, watermelon, and freshly steamed or sautéed dandelion greens. And make sure you’re chugging plenty of purified water to enable your body to release extra fluids. Think plenty of protein and veggies and limited complex starch like whole oats, sweet potatoes, winter squash, brown rice, or legumes. Eliminating all starches for 3-5 days will enable you to shed at least 2-3 pounds of water weight before a big event.
Give Yourself a Facelift—From Within. A diet rich in wild Alaskan salmon is like having a facelift right in your fridge! Wild Alaskan salmon contains the neurotransmitter DMAE, which tightens and tones muscle, giving you beautiful contours in your face and body. You’ll also get the benefits from the astaxanthin present—a potent antioxidant with a natural SPF, omega-3s, and vitamin D3. The day before a special event, make sure you eat 2-3 servings per day of wild Alaskan salmon to quench internal inflammation and give your skin a glow you never thought possible. Go to www.vitalchoice.com for some delicious options for all fish wild.
Get Your Beauty Zzzz’s. Sleep is the new sex—it’s just that hot. Here’s what we know about sleep: it builds muscle, facilitates fat burning, reduces cravings and hunger and gives us better appetite control. It has an even greater impact as a metabolic modulator than food or exercise, and therefore governs your hormones and your body’s ability to lean out. Sleep is the most natural anabolic agent you can have in your fat loss arsenal. Correcting a broken sleep cycle will enable you to build muscle and lose fat. Unplug your electronics, sleep in a pitch-black room, wear a night mask, and hit the hay by 10pm. Nighty night!
Get High (on Neurotransmitters). Set yourself up for metabolic success and eat meat (or protein) and nuts for breakfast. So important is the connection between food and mood that what you eat for breakfast sets up your entire neurotransmitter production for the day! (Word to the wise: chocolate cake ain’t gonna cut it this time ‘round…) When protein-based foods are broken down during digestion, one particular amino acid, tyrosine, has the job of boosting the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. These in turn increase your levels of alertness and energy.
The other benefit to eating protein in the morning is that it offsets the dreaded 3pm crash and burn. When you properly lay down the foundation to balanced blood sugar in the morning, your adrenal glands can keep your stress hormones in check and keep humming along throughout the day. This will help fight hunger and cravings, too. On the flip side, if you toss back a large coffee with a bagel, donut, or cold cereal for breakfast, your body will flood your bloodstream with insulin, your blood sugar will peak and crash, and you will struggle to maintain your equilibrium the rest of the day (and your waistline down the road). Protein and veggies to the rescue!
Do Shots Daily. I’m not talking booze, here—I’m talking about gorgeously green drinks. Juicing can make you look and feel beautiful from the inside out. I love to chug one when I’m fighting a cold, or even just after a workout. One of the greatest benefits of juicing is that it provides you with a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, and biologically active enzymes. Most of us do not eat enough fresh vegetables on a daily basis, and juicing can add back some much-needed nutrients into our diets. Green juices also have an anti-inflammatory effect, calm an upset stomach, and boost immune function. Fresh juices are best, and you can also toss whole vegetables into a Vitamix with some water and lemon juice for a fibrous boost. If you’re on the go, belly up to the juice bar for a shot of wheatgrass and get on with your day. And if you want to keep it uber simple, just toss a heaping tablespoon of powdered greens into a tall cup of H20 on the rocks. Your call!
Snack Preemptively. How many times have you starved yourself the day of a holiday party so you can go all out when you get there? This is a bad idea for many reasons. You’ll jack up your cortisol, you’ll feel incredibly irritable, you’ll look quite unlady-like as you greedily elbow your way to the buffet table, you may not even like the food there so you’ll still be hungry, and you’ll get drunker than a skunk after one cocktail because you’ll have no food in your system. Before you hit the party, nosh on two hard-boiled eggs or wrap some turkey around avocado slices to take the edge off.
Before You Primp, You’ve Got to Pump. Even if you’re hosting people for the holidays, always make sure you head outdoors in the morning for a vigorous walk or some uphill sprints or hit the gym before everyone comes over. It’s a great stress-buster and will give you enough endurance for a long day of taking care other people. If you’re pressed for time, keep your workouts quick and dirty; 30 minutes is enough to get the job done right.
Repeat the following circuit four times for a challenging fat-blasting workout. Rest one minute between sets, or until you feel ready to move on to the next set.
- 12 pushups
- 15 squats with medium dumbbells
- 15 wide-grip assisted pull-ups
- 60 second sprints on the treadmill, stepmill, or stationary bike
Be the Belle of the Ball- Not the Belle of the Bombed! Alcohol is the perfect party starter, but we all know you can go from glam to slammed in no time at all with just one glass too many. And while the flight up into inebriation is oh so heavenly, the morning after can be nothing short of a highway to hell. A woman’s body breaks down alcohol twice as slowly as a man’s does, because we have less dehydrogenase enzyme to break it down. We also want to remember that drinking a glass of alcohol puts the pause button on fat burning. So remember that if you drink to dine while you wine and skip the sugary calorie-laden cocktails. Keep it simple with a glass or red or vodka on the rocks. Skip the Red Bull in your drinks and have plenty of water on hand to keep you hydrated. When you get home, have a glass of unsweetened coconut water to rehydrate you and quench your bod with electrolytes.
Get Some Vitamin O. Long and luscious orgasms have been shown to decrease cortisol levels and raise the good estrogen (estradiol), and make your thyroid more efficient. And, you’ve got to use it or lose it. If you’re feeling less than randy, get your passion groove back with some zinc. Zinc-rich foods increase sexual function in women. Zinc supports healthy adrenal activity, which combats the negative effects of stress. Healthy adrenals translate into more energy, and because you’ll feel less burned out by physical activity, you’ll benefit from increased sexual stamina. Food-rich sources include oysters and other shellfish, turkey, mushrooms, and seeds like sesame, sunflower, poppy, and pumpkin. Also try sunflower and alfalfa.
Peace and Love, Baby! Stress management is one of the most important things you can do for yourself this holiday season. Give yourself what I like to call mandatory permission to take time for yourself and quiet your mind. Putting other people’s needs before your own all the time will take its toll on you in the long run. So take yoga or meditate two to three times per week. Say no to parties you truly don’t want to go to. Spend time with friends who make you laugh and don’t care if your house is clean or your roots are showing. Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things before you go to bed that made your day great. And get enough sleep to give you the energy to power through. Make the holidays healthful and sane this year; that’s the absolute best gift you can give yourself.
© 2012 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more at www.thevirgindiet.com.
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