For those watching their waistlines, the holiday season can be a truly stressful time. However, there’s some good news – most people don’t gain as much during that time as they might think. But, the bad news is that the weight gained during the festive season turns into an unwanted gift that can’t be returned.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Medical University of South Carolina studied 195 people and found that nearly a year later 85% of the participants still had not lost that extra weight. That means that even if you only gain two pounds during the holidays, that if you consistently do that year after year you’ll be 10 pounds heavier in just five years! The study also found that overweight and obese participants gained the most weight during the holiday study compared to others.
Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to hibernate during the festivities in order to avoid packing on the pounds. There are reasonable ways to alter your behavior so that you can still enjoy yourself without becoming an unofficial member of the holiday weight gainers club.
- Strive for five-a-day. Ensure that you eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. They contain fewer calories then most other foods and far more nutrients. Plus, since they often are high in fiber, they help make you feel full. So, promise yourself that before you’ll indulge in any holiday “goodies” you’ll first eat your five-a-day.
- Allow indulgences but limit them. Preferably, permit yourself to have one cookie or one piece of cake per day, but no more than that. That doesn’t mean you have to have a goodie every day and it also doesn’t give you free reign to eat two servings one day because you didn’t eat any the day before. Stick to your limits. And, remember that even just one indulgence a day may require you to reduce your calorie intake somewhere else or burn extra calories.
- Give yourself an early gift. Make it a priority to do some type of physical activity every day, no matter how short. Exercise is a major factor in both preventing weight gain and losing weight. Schedule your exercise times on your calendar and don’t let anything brush them aside. Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give.
- Spend less time in the kitchen. Cooking and baking for the holidays is a very enjoyable experience for many but is it really necessary to bake dozens of the most high calorie desserts? Try finding some baking and cooking alternatives that still allow for the fun of kitchen time with family and friends but are more nutritious.
- Keep it in perspective. Overeating at one meal is not going to be the cause of a permanent weight gain. But, if you use that as an excuse “I’ve already sabotaged my day anyway”, then it could lead to a snowball effect. Don’t allow it to stop you from exercising that day or the next or give you an excuse to overeat all day long.
- Don’t over extend yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. You may have offers for business parties, family gatherings, neighborhood socializing, school functions, etc. It’s okay to say no to some of them. If you commit to too many events, it’s easy to get stressed. And, stress often leads to bad food choices and abandonment of workouts. Not to mention that some research has indicated that some stress can actually cause weight gain.
- Go to the back of the line. When at a party with a buffet, allow others to hit the food table first. It’s likely that many of the most enticing (and calorie heavy) foods may be gone before you get your plate, thus eliminating some of your temptations.
About the author: Lynn Bode is a certified personal trainer specializing in Internet-based fitness programs. She founded Workouts For You, which provides affordable online exercise programs that are custom designed for each individual. Visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com
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