Photo: Claire Kuʻuleilani HughesIt’s October! Feasting days will soon begin.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are exciting, with lots of fellowship and eating. Planning for holiday festivities brings joy! Where are we going? Who will we see? What will I wear for this and that event? Wait…will those slacks fit? Oh! Oh! Thoughts go directly to the struggles, just this morning, with the buttons of your jeans. Hmmm, is there enough time? Yes, a month is adequate to trim that waistline down. A few changes to routines will do the trick.

Experts agree on suggestions that make a difference at the waistline. The sound advice is: 1) Do not skip meals. Eat lean protein at each of three daily meals; 2) Eat lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich foods; 3) Drink plenty of water – eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Start with a glass of water before breakfast; and, 4) Add planned exercise to your day’s routines.

Let’s elaborate. First, skipping meals will sabotage your best efforts. Hunger makes us less effective at work, as well as less able to resist snacking and overeating at the very sight or smell of food. If you are employed, hunger will interfere with your accuracy and pleasantness, as well as reduce enjoyment and satisfaction from your work. Assuring three meals a day, spaced five or more hours apart, will provide regular refueling to the body and reduce discomforts of hunger. Secondly, eating lean protein at each meal makes sense. Protein foods require chewing, an action that enhances feelings of satiety. Also, proteins digest more slowly than carbohydrates, and that engenders longer feelings of satiety. Thirdly, the leafy green vegetables and vitamin C-rich foods are packed with high levels of many protective nutrients and micronutrients needed to renew your body’s cells and to fight off infections and illnesses. Fourthly, water is needed daily to control many bodily functions that assist with digestion, controlling temperature and enhancing feelings of satiety.

To achieve this pre-holiday plan, use weekends to plan and prepare. This will insure success. 1) Plan to assure protein foods are ready for the week. Roast chicken or turkey, let the bird(s) cool, then strip the meat from the bones. Slice the meat into thin slices, and package in 2- and 3-ounce portions. You can put waxed paper between the portions and package the portions in air-tight, plastic baggies or refrigerator containers. Keep only a week’s supply of meat in the fridge; date and freeze the rest. Also, purchase a variety of fish steaks for broiling, like mahimahi, salmon or ahi. Use fresh garlic, ginger and other herbs for flavoring. 2) Assure availability of mixed greens for salads. For ease, purchase the large, pre-washed, leafy vegetables; or make-up your own mix. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, pumpkin or taro for the week can be cooked, cooled completely, then refrigerated. Other vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and greens can be washed, drained thoroughly and be ready for the week. This pre-preparation is essential for quick-readiness of meals, along with success! This pre-planning will soon become a habit and will assure smooth-sailing for the month, and beyond. Thirdly, carry your own chilled-water to work in a hydro-flask (or use at home). Hawai‘i’s water tastes better than most bottled water and is easier on the food budget. Eat meaty salads and simple meat and vegetable combinations. There are many low-calorie salad dressings that taste like the regular ones. Eat brown rice, whole grain-breads and cereals.

Another part of slimming the body is exercise. Don’t groan, just plan! Put more exercise into your day. Walk the stairs between floors at work (be mindful of using excellent posture). Take a brisk, 10-minute walk during your mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. If you sit at a desk for most of the day, then stand once an hour (set an alarm) and do some isometric exercises in place for a minute (you can read while standing). No one can see that you are tensing and relaxing your legs, back, seat, arms and toes. The isometric exercises will improve all muscles and your posture significantly. Then, walk around the office. Work on your posture during these moments. When you return home after work, plan a 15- or 20-minute walk in your community after dinner.

A final suggestion for office workers: totally eliminate all candy and food from desks (and view). Create a place, out of sight, where snacks and food for the office are kept and consumed. Avoid this office space. Rest assured, the inches that you lose will bring great benefits to your health, as well as your looks and comfort in holiday garments. If you are curious about health benefits, read my column in the June 2018 Ka Wai Ola. You are going to be and look fabulous…promise.