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- Weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be as much as 15 pounds
- Increasing physical activity is an easy ward off weight gain
- Moderation is key when trying to avoid weight gain over the holiday season
Holiday weight gain is not as high as once believed. The average American will only gain one or two pounds. Overindulging can lead to more weight gain and some people gain up to 15 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Tempting treats and alcohol are only part of the equation though. During the holidays, people have hectic schedules, exercise less and indulge more. Stress, depression, and fatigue can also contribute to unwanted pounds.
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What can I do to prepare for holiday weight gain?
One or two pounds may not seem like a lot of weight, but studies show most people do not lose holiday weight. This means over the years, the extra weight will add up. There are things you can do to help keep holiday weight gain in check.
The best way to minimize holiday weight gain is to prepare for it as you do for everything else during the holidays. Simple changes in your routine can pay off big.
Plan family outings based around outdoor activities. Ice-skating and charity fun runs are great exercise and ways to spend time with the family. Simply getting out to go play in the leaves or snow will burn calories too.
- Do not skip workouts – This may not be so easy but if you put sessions in your schedule, you will be less likely to book other things during those times. Having a workout buddy will decrease chances you will bail on going as well.
- Park far away – On days you just do not have time, try parking further away from stores and buildings. Take the stairs whenever possible and walk a few extra laps around the mall when shopping. These are great ways to burn calories in a pinch but you should not rely on them completely.
- Avoid Splurging on Food – Holiday meals and parties are usually loaded with overindulgent high calories. It is unrealistic to think we can simply avoid eating them. Most restaurants offer low calorie or healthy fare for those lunches with friends.
However, eating a well-balanced diet the rest of the time will make a big difference. Make sure you are filling up fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins when you are not out.
- Relax – Taking time to relax is also a major factor in reducing holiday weight gain. Stress triggers a release of cortisol, which forces the body to store more fat. The holidays are full of stress and decompressing can significantly lower cortisol levels.
What tips are there to avoid gaining weight at holiday parties?
Parties are a great time to cheat on our healthy lifestyle and enjoy the things we avoid most of the year. Appetizers, desserts, and drinks are just part of the problem.
We also have family dinners and shopping lunches with friends. Anticipating temptations is the first step. If you know what to expect you will be able to prepare. Even calories from little things like candy dishes or cookie trays at the office can add up
If you are attending a party or dinner where healthy options may be very limited, eat a small meal before you go. Filling up on some fiber and protein will make it easier to avoid temptation.
This is the same concept as not going to the grocery store hungry. When you are hungry, it is much easier to make bad food choices.
When you are at self-service or buffet style gatherings, fill half your plate with vegetables or fresh fruit first. This limits room on your plate when you go past the foods higher in calories and fat.
Food is not the only high-calorie temptation; cocktails, wine, and beer are also loaded with calories. Limit alcohol intake by drinking water.
This will not only save calories but may save you from a major headache later. Keep a food journal to log your calorie intake.
This will give you an idea of how much you are eating and when. Seeing it in writing gives you a better sense of what you are eating, because you cannot forget that second cookie from lunch or the chocolate candy at the store.
Finally do not be afraid to say no. It is okay to turn down a second helping or party invitation. The important thing to remember is to be polite. Prepare a mental list of ways out if needed.
What can I do if I gained some holiday weight?
If you do gain weight over the holidays, do not worry. Acknowledge that you had a great time and do not regret your choices. A few simple steps and you can shed those holiday pounds in no time.
Start back with your regular exercise routine and even try incorporating strength training to help build muscle and burn calories faster. If you did not exercise before, try some new activity.
Simple things like jogging, walking, or dancing for 30 minutes can often make a big difference.
Clear out the fridge and pantry. Get rid of lingering holiday treats and restock healthy foods. A diet low in sodium and fat and high in fiber, protein, and complex carbs will have you shedding those unwanted pounds in no time. This goes for beverages too.
The holidays are certainly a time to enjoy and indulge but once January comes a little bit of reality will kick in so remember the more you eat over the holiday the more you need to lose in the New Year.
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