10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner... baked goods at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extra goodies add up, and if you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day.
According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
“Weight gain over the holidays is a large part of the typical weight gain that adults have over the years,” says Dr. Jack Yanovski, head of the Unit on Growth and Obesity at NIH. He and his colleagues found that almost all the weight people had gained over the course of a year could be explained by the pounds they added over the holiday period. That’s why it’s particularly important to make sure you maintain your weight during the holiday season.
So what is it about holiday lights, the smell of fresh baked pastries and Christmas music that packs on the pounds? It’s not necessarily one thing, but usually a combination of a whole bunch of factors including stress, booze, fried foods, HUGE meals, sweets and a reduction in exercise.
I want to help you feel empowered this holiday season to find the right balance between healthy and "treat 'yo self." Here are my 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain this season:
1. Never arrive hungry.
We've all been there; you have a busy weekend with multiple parties planned, and by the time you show up to the shindig you DIVE into the fried finger foods, chips, dips and booze. By the end of the evening, you have a good buzz going on and don't even want to THINK about how many calories you've consumed that evening.
While it's OK to indulge in these foods at holiday parties, let's try to make a plan not to GORGE yourself at them. Planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. Have a healthy snack and drink some water before you hit the party circuit, and you'll be less tempting to over indulge.
2. Pace yourself.
Diving into a buffet of unhealthy foods is a recipe for disaster during the holidays. Slow down, and chew the foods that you are eating. US News reports that chewing your food aids in digestion, boosts nutrient absorption and can help control your weight.
3. Practice portion control.
Indulging in your favorite not-so-healthy foods is OK - in moderation. As long as you are getting a good mix of protein, veggies, fruit, carbs and healthy fats the majority of the week, you won't have to feel guilty about indulging on the weekends.
Personally I love to use the 21 Day Fix to keep track of the foods I eat during the week. The colored containers make portion control simple as can be.
4. Earn your treats.
You don't have to feel guilty about indulging on the weekends, as long as you have been "good" during the week! I tell my Challengers to earn their treats; we suggest meal prep for the work week, and at least 3 workouts to earn weekend treats.
5. Don't skip your workouts.
The holidays are a busy time of year, there is no argument from me there. Exercising in the morning can help ensure better behavior all day long, Personally, I like getting my workout out of the way and completed it in the morning. Then I don't have to dread it all day long while at work!
6. Be smart about booze.
Calories can easily creep up when it comes to alcohol. I'm not saying that you need to skip the cocktails (I'd rather skip dessert, if you ask me) -- but you can play it SMART when it comes to what to drink.
Steer clear of the super sugary frozen and mixed drinks (those tend to have the most calories). Just think, would you rather have 1 glass of Eggnog or 2 Vodka sodas? Check out this list from Self Magazine of the 10 lowest calorie cocktails you can drink.
7. Celebrate non-scale victories.
While the scale may be the first indicator you turn to, it can be a fickle being! I've conducted several experiments throughout the day and found that I can gain/lose weight with one glass of water, meal, or trip to the restroom.
Instead, I like to focus on the non-scale victories (AKA any other indicators besides the scale. Pants fit loser? Can you do an extra push up or pull up? Noticing that you aren't out of breath when walking/exercising? Drop a dress size? Not tempted by sweets anymore? Check out these 11 Non-Scale Victories from Daily Burn.
8. Find other rewards besides food/drinks.
Food is often viewed as a reward after a week of healthy eating. Instead of rewarding yourself with treats like a pet, why not focus on NON food rewards. A new workout outfit, pair of sneakers, manicure or pedicure are examples of what I have rewarded myself with.
9. Water is your friend.
Staying hydrated will help you flush the toxins out of your body, improve your skin completion, increase energy and help keep you from bored eating. I've heard varying suggestions of drinking between 8-12 glasses a day. Personally, I try to drink at least half my body weight in ounces daily. On a good day, I'll drink closer to one gallon (128 ounces).
10. Find friends to help keep you accountable.
You are much more likely to accomplish a goal if you have someone to help keep you accountable. I've found that declaring a goal to a community, checking in daily, and asking for help when you've fallen off track. If you need a community to join, check out my Virtual Gym.