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As a holistic nutritionist, weight loss expert and mom to two young girls, Ciara Foy's motto is ”Real Food; Real Life; Real Solutions”. She can be found downtown Toronto, working with clients one-on-one via private practice, or providing consultations globally via Skype.

Ciara is also the “Hiit Nutritionist” for The DailyHiit aka BodyRock.tv, a free online fitness community that boasts millions of visitors every month. In addition, she’s appeared on Global TV, CTV and contributed to articles in Elle Magazine. For more information about Ciara, visit her website.

We asked Ciara — how do we survive the holidays and have fun while still maintaining our health and sanity? Here’s what she has to say…

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So your career requires you to look fabulous, socialize like an A-lister and manage a string of creative deadlines over the holiday season? Not to mention stay healthy and fit so you can ROCK that NYE cocktail dress without a few extra lumps and bumps.

Relax, I’ve got your back! Contrary to what you may have heard, staying fit and maintaining your health and weight over the holidays doesn’t require what I call a “Reduced Joy Diet”.

The following are my top six tips on how to make it through the holidays without gaining weight, suffering from a string of hangovers or dampening your style.

1. Morning Exercise
Not only is it difficult to stay on track with a nutritious eating plan during the holidays, but finding the time to fit in your workouts feels near impossible. Many of you may not be morning people and I’ll confess, neither am I, but I love morning workouts for three reasons:

- There is no excuse for not working out in the morning except that you didn’t get your butt out of bed early enough!

- It ramps up your metabolism for the entire day and gives you a ton of energy.

- It puts you in a healthy state of mind making it easier to keep motivated and make healthy eating choices.

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2. Don’t “Save” Calories!
Many people believe that they should skip meals prior to a big holiday party in an attempt to prevent weight gain. This is probably the worst thing you can do! By skipping meals you are only setting yourself up to overeat at the party.

We are all the same, if we deprive ourselves and end up with low blood sugar we will eat ANYTHING in sight! I always recommend that clients stick to their regular balanced meal plan and I even suggest a small all-natural protein smoothie before a cocktail party so that you will eat less of the “treats” at the party; don’t forget to add a handful of greens to show your liver some love. Trust me, it works!

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3. Hold the Hangover!
One of the biggest pitfalls during the holiday season is the consumption of alcohol. Not only does it add empty calories, but it quickly increases your blood sugar, setting you up for a crash and craving all sorts of unhealthy food. Too much can completely throw you off the next day too!

The good news is you can minimize the impact on your waistline and your deadlines, a little prevention goes a long way. Pick yourself up some chlorella! This highly nutritious liver detoxifying algae can actually help prevent a productivity-killing hangover! Take a few capsules before going out and a few when you get home with a large glass of water. It’s like magic!

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4. Enjoy the “Cheer” Mindfully
Keep in mind that alcohol in and of itself will not make you fat. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. You just have to be mindful of your choices while drinking and understand how it’s metabolized! Watch that you’re not mixing your alcohol with high calorie “mixes” and “sugar”; this includes juice.

When you drink alcohol, your body metabolizes it first. Any food you eat while drinking will not be metabolized until the alcohol is! My advice is to save your glass of wine for “dessert” and give yourself an hour to digest. This will also help reduce your overall intake. Above all else, curb the 1 am “food truck” binges and be mindful of what you are eating. It’s the poor choices that alcohol influences that are the biggest issue.

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5. Dead or Alive
Throughout the day, but especially when at a Christmas party, keep asking yourself “is this food I’m about to put in my mouth dead or alive?” This is a concept I use with a lot of my clients as its very easy to visualize. I define “dead” food as anything that is overly processed, think pigs in a blanket, deep fried, pre-packaged, or full of sugar. These types of food are devoid of any real nutrient value and are only going to add a ton of empty calories to your day and make you feel lethargic.

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6. Get your Beauty Sleep
All of the above suggestions will be very hard to put into practice if you don’t get some shut eye! I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t get enough sleep you’ll feel unmotivated, unproductive and VERY HUNGRY.

Pretend you’re Cinderella and that you’ll turn into a pumpkin at midnight. On the nights it’s just not an option, try to get in a power nap for at least 20 minutes prior to your night out. You’ll be energized and ready for action.

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