How to survive holiday weight gain

By Liz Montes

The holiday season is set to begin very soon; are you ready? That is, ready not to gain weight! The average American adult will gain between one to nine pounds during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There will be lots of food, lots of parties and lots of booze and it’s best to have a plan on how not to gain weight during this period.

The truth and the good news is the majority of us will only gain about one pound during that period, but that’s one pound on top of the weight you gained throughout the year. For people already overweight, the weight gain is more… an average of five pounds. The New England Journal of Medicine considers this period a high-risk time for many people. The added problem is that the weight gain could last a lifetime. The tough part, as you know, is getting it off. Actually, I believe it’s easier to keep the weight off through diet and exercise than gain it and then have to lose it. It’s like working out; as hard as it can be to workout it’s easier to maintain a workout program than to stop and start a program over and over again. So, let’s look at some things we can do to help control weight gain.

Don’t stop or cancel workouts: You can find time to get them in, even if it’s in 15- to 20- minute increments. Instead of an hour in the gym, schedule yourself a 30- or 45-minute session. Or, you can even add an extra 20- to 30-minute walk in the afternoon. The weather is great and if you can take your dog he will love it.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. This will help to curtail your desire to eat from the over- abundance of delicious food during this time. Aim to fill your day with fruits and vegetables, especially if you know you have a party to attend. This will fill your stomach without the extra calories that other snacks have. The fiber in fruits will give you a fuller feeling and the nutrients are unbeatable. You are sure to take in fewer “bad” calories if you follow a plan of more fruits and vegetables daily. Make it easy by having Ziploc bags with cut-up veggies and prepared fruits ready to go in your refrigerator.

Limit your temptations: Whatever your favorite dessert, make a pact with yourself to walk away from it. Always be aware of what you are putting in your mouth… especially when chatting and mingling among the crowd, be aware of what goes into the mouth. It’s not polite to eat and talk with your mouth full anyway. Focus on what you’re eating. If you can’t resist and you have to eat it, then control the amount you do eat.

Don’t go to the party hungry… eat something before you go and make sure it’s healthy and filling. Yogurt is always a great choice.

Learn to say no: When they come around to refill your wine glass or plate it is OK to politely refuse. There is nothing wrong with eating small amounts. People may think it’s a bit weird but who cares.

Be in charge of your choices: Choose smaller plates, avoid the heavy sauces, and watch the fried stuff. As dessert is most people’s weakness, watch the type of dessert you choose and amount you have. You can always ask for a smaller piece or you can cut it yourself. And of course, watch the amount of alcohol, and the eggnog.

Socialize more: That’s what parties are for. Don’t stand around the food table. Move about and keep talking, it’ll take your mind off of the food and you could make more friends. There may be other people who may have the same food challenges as you. So, mingle more.

Research indicates that the majority of weight gain is during the cooler months. If you can begin to control that and be aware of what you are putting in your mouth, that will begin to help you control any weight gain during this time of the year.

The holidays are meant to be with family and friends, so enjoy them. But keep that promise to yourself not to give in to your temptations. The best way to go into the new year is with no extra weight to lose.

Liz Montes is a master fitness trainer.



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