Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially the holiday season. And you know what that means…it’s inevitable, there’s no way around, of course you’re going to gain weight over the holidays. Wrong. It’s not a done deal. There are ways to avoid holiday weight gain. With some preparation and conscientious effort, you can buck the trend and not gain weight this holiday season.
While popular opinion states that everyone gains 5-10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there is no scientific evidence to back that up. In fact, there is some research that shows that most Americans appear to only gain about 1 lb of body weight during the holidays on average. The bad news however, is that while the gain may be slight, it has a lasting impact. Most people who gain weight over the holidays tend to not lose that weight come January, despite the various resolutions to do just that.
So instead of getting caught in that trap of continual (albiet small) weight gain, how about not gaining weight this year? It's possible. With a solid strategy, determination and support (we’re always here for you), this can be the year you start the New Year healthier than ever!
Realize you are going to be bombarded with temptations from office parties to family dinners to neighborhood gatherings. Denial will not work for you here. Once you’ve acknowledged that temptation will abound, decide how you are going to handle it. Devise a strategy for handling stressful/temptation-filled events. Perhaps it’s through visualization? You can picture yourself declining that extra slice of pie. Or how great you’ll look in those skinny jeans that you can now fit in because you refused the temptation. Or maybe it’s bribery; tell yourself if you want to eat dessert you’re going to have to exercise for 30 extra minutes. Or maybe it’s physical; you only wear clothes that are a little tight on you to remind yourself to eat in control. Whatever it is that will keep you strong and unbending when it comes to temptation. Have a plan and stick to it.
No matter what your overall strategy for holiday survival is, ensuring you are eating strategically is key. Planning your meals is one of the key factors of success when it comes to weight loss, especially during the holidays. Think of all the places where food will be a centerpiece of the event, going into those situations unprepared and /or hungry is just a recipe for disaster. But knowing what you’re eating that day (if only for one meal) makes a big difference. A healthy meal gives you the fuel – mentally and physically – to resist temptations.
This is one of Diet-to-Go’s many benefits. Knowing that no matter how harried the day is, having that delicious, healthy and satisfying Diet-to-Go meal will help you be strong through any party.
Just as important as planning your meals, is accounting for snacks. Mindless snacking throughout the day can be dangerous. Typically, unless we actually sit down for a meal we tend not to even register that we’re eating. We consume a vast amount of calories without even noticing. We’re not suggesting you never grab a bite in between meals or have a little something after dinner, what we are saying is plan ahead. Be sure your snacks are healthy and satisfying. And if you eat it, write it down. When you keep a food journal, and account for everything you put in your mouth, you’re less likely to overindulge.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best defenses you have against holiday weight gain. It’s true, water is so unassuming but it is key to an efficient metabolism. Here’s how it works: your liver converts stored fat to energy. (The liver does other things too, but this is one of its main jobs). Unfortunately, another of the liver's duties is to pick up the slack for the kidneys, which need plenty of water to work properly. If the kidneys are water-deprived, the liver has to do their work along with its own, lowering its total productivity. It then can't metabolize fat as quickly or efficiently as it could when the kidneys were pulling their own weight. When this happens, you are setting yourself up to store fat. But, when you drink plenty of water your kidneys and liver can work in tandem to fight fat.
So, sip water all day long. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere. And don’t worry, the frequent trips to the bathroom that often accompany increased water drinking do settle down some (after your body gets used to the extra water it’s getting). But then again, think of all the extra calories you’re burning walking to and from the bathroom.
How great is it that sleep actually helps you lose weight? It’s true. In fact getting adequate amounts of sleep each night is critical to all aspects of your health and plays a major role in helping us maintain a healthy weight. Besides the biological impact lack of sleep has on our ability to lose weight, being sleep deprived weakens our willpower and we tend to cave to cravings. And who wants to exercise when they can barely keep their eyes open? So, while your social calendar is probably more full this time of year, be sure to set aside some downtime in between parties. Not only will your body be better able to metabolize your meals but you’ll also have more energy for the parties. And who knows, if you’re well rested you may find you’ll skip the buffet table entirely in lieu of the dance floor.
Take a proactive approach. Accept that you will probably consume more calories than normal this holiday season, so now’s the time to increase your physical activity. You can do it at the gym and/or throughout each day. So that means do a couple extra sets of weights each time you lift. Or, turn your normal 30-minute walk into a 45-minute outing. Or better yet, try adding some jogging/running bursts in your walk. Research has shown that adding even small amounts of intervals (intense exertion) to a workout can have tremendous calorie burning benefits.
Just because this is the start of the holiday season doesn’t mean it’s the start of your holiday weight gain. Plan a strategy, stick to it, and you’ll see that come New Year’s you’re healthier than ever!