Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

What does the holiday season mean for you?  Does it conjure up images of falling snow “back home”, cactus trimmed with sparkling lights, exchanging gifts, or being with family?  Or is it the endless parade of goodies at the office, dinners and parties, and Grandma’s rum-soaked fruitcake? These 8 tips will help you avoid holiday weight gain!

This month does not have to result in yet another year of putting on extra pounds that seem to take until pool season to shed (which for us Phoenicians is just around the corner).  Here are my top tips avoid holiday weight gain while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Avoid putting the holiday spread around your middle!

  1. Make your training routine a priority, not an option.  Exercise will signal your body to use those extra calories rather than store them, not to mention help alleviate stress during a busy time of year.  This is your “ME” time.
  2. Tighten up your eating during the day/week…save a few calories for a special dinner/party so you won’t feel deprived and binge once you’re surrounded by goodies!  For example, if your event is in the evening, stay on your usual meal plan the rest of the day and then get back your meal plan the following day.
  3. Eat before you go out.  Vegetables, in particular, will fill your stomach with fiber-rich calories so you literally don’t have room for too much junk.  A protein shake would be another great option.
  4. Watch the liquid calories. Enjoy a (“a” as in “one”) glass of good wine, or a skinny cocktail; avoid beer, sugary drinks, and artificial sweeteners like diet soda as they stimulate your appetite for sweets and the release of insulin.  Alcohol also stimulates fat-craving hormones – so keep this one in check.  (Click here for more information on the role of galanin and an increased appetite for fats.)
  5. Go for a walk after a big meal.  This aids digestion, reduces that uncomfortable feeling, and enhances your mood which can help you avoid going back for seconds.  Sometimes, it isn’t the food we eat that satisfies; it’s the connection with others and with nature.  (Check out this article from the APA describing the effects of exercise on mood and mental health.)
  6. Plan holiday events that don’t revolve solely around food.  Some ideas include ice skating, caroling, gift wrapping parties, looking at light displays, attending a Christmas concert, etc.
  7. Play with your kids!  Get outside and enjoy the cooler temps which invigorate and revive.  If you don’t have kids of your own, borrow a niece or nephew or a pet!
  8. Watch the stress – practice some kindness toward yourself during a typically stress-filled time of year. Slow down and smell the mistletoe.

Finally, remember the reason for the season – regardless of your religious beliefs or background, the holiday season gives us all reason to pause and focus on our relationships and our happiness. Using these tips to avoid holiday weight gain will help you maintain your focus and be ready to start the new year on the right foot!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we tackle the issue of cravings and how they can sabotage our efforts to be healthy and fit.

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