Don't Gain Weight This Holiday Season
It's that time of year again when eating can easily get out of control. The holiday celebrations start with goodies for Halloween and continue on for weeks. Food is everywhere! Parties and gatherings with co-workers, family, and friends seem to be never ending. As hard as you try, you can't get away from all the holiday appetizers, entrees, beverages, and endless supply of baked goods. Weight gain may seem inevitable. But is it? I say NO.
With the right strategies, you CAN make it through the holidays without packing on the pounds. Read on and get answers to a few key questions that will help you stay on track with your weight loss plan.
Is it true that the average person gains 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day?
People often do gain weight during the holidays, but how much weight? The only comprehensive scientific study, reported a few years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that most people gain less than 1 pound during the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It's important to note however that people who are obese already tend to gain more weight than those who have been practicing weight control. The problem is that most people never end up losing the weight they gain during the holidays and it continues to add up year after year. So, if you do gain weight this holiday season, even if it's just 1 - 2 pounds, take action right away. Don't let an insignificant weight gain snowball into 10 - 20 pounds. Get back to your healthy weight loss plan as quickly as possible.
I've been losing weight successfully for the past several months. I'm dreading the holiday season because I always gain weight. What can I do to prevent it this year?
Without a doubt, losing weight during the holidays is extremely challenging. Adjusting your goals may be in order. Rather than focusing on continued weight loss during this time, focus on not gaining weight instead. Remember - the holidays should be enjoyable and food is a big part of the tradition and pleasures of the season. Sharing special foods with family and friends can make this time more meaningful. Instead of depriving yourself, have your favorites in small amounts and try to cut back in other ways. Put a bigger focus on keeping your exercise schedule on track. Consider yourself successful if you continue to exercise regularly and avoid gaining weight. On the other hand, however, if you are determined to stick with your weight loss plan through the holidays, go for it!
I'll be traveling during the holidays and can't get to my gym. What can I do to stay active?
Continuing regular exercise during the hectic and often stressful holiday season can help you maintain your weight - and your sanity. If you have a gym membership, you may be able to use a facility located near your travel destination - although there may be a fee. Alternatively, most hotels offer in-house exercise areas that typically include weight training equipment, a swimming pool, a treadmill and other cardiovascular conditioning equipment. In some cities, athletic clubs have agreements with certain hotels whereby guests may use their facilities for free. It can't hurt to look into these options before you travel. And of course, walking, stair-climbing, yoga, calisthenics, and stretching are easy when you're traveling. You can do these activities almost anywhere.
You may need to adjust your expectations for holiday exercising. Try to be flexible and understand that you can't always work out according to your normal routine. However, try to sneak in exercise whenever possible; for example, take a walk after a large meal. And be sure to get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you return home.
Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS RD, is a food and nutrition expert specializing in weight management. She is committed to empowering people through education, support, and inspiration to make real changes that lead to optimal health and lasting weight loss. Sign up for her Free Consultation and receive expert advice on how to lose 20 lb. - or more. Jump