Tips For Defying Holiday Weight Gain

Tips For Defying Holiday Weight Gain

Tips For Defying Holiday Weight Gain

by Dianna Rissell

Every year, just before Thanksgiving, my gym hangs a poster that reads: the average person gains 5-8 lbs over the holidays. Bah Humbug! I’ve read enough to know that this probably isn’t accurate. It seems to be one of those frequently cited stats that has “stuck”, much like old wives’ tales do. We’ve said it so often that we believe it and we forget where it came from or what it’s based on. It’s great advertising for gym memberships (and nutrition coaches!) but recent studies refute it. Yet knowing all of this only soothes the sting of that sign a little. Because, while we can debate the ‘5-8 lbs’ – FYI it’s probably closer to 1-2 lbs — we have to agree that weight gain over the holidays is real: we gain more weight at the holidays than at any other time of the year; most of us never successfully lose what we gain, leading to weight creep (gaining 10-20 lbs per decade); and if you are already overweight, you risk gaining more than the average and 5-8 lbs may be very real for you. The specifics of the gym sign may be misleading or inflated but it’s a Public Service Announcement!

So, in the face of the Christmas parties, family get-togethers and ‘feasts for weeks’, how do you beat the odds and survive the holidays, current healthier weight intact? Here are some general tips:

  1. Be realistic. Work to maintain your current weight rather than setting unrealistic, stressful goals to lose weight.
  2. Stress contributes significantly to weight gain. Be mindful of what causes you the most stress and find work arounds. Hate shopping at a crowded mall? Use online shopping. Frazzled by doing all of the cooking? Hire a caterer. Make the holidays about bringing people together versus the best gifts or the best food at the expense of your health.
  3. Respect your routine including eating breakfast, working out and getting good sleep during the holidays. If you do these things today, do your best to maintain them during the holiday. Routines reduce stress.
  4. Keep moving. It’s probably not the right time to start working out if it stresses you out. But moving throughout the day is important now and always…no gym needed. Set your watch to remind you to stand up every 30 minutes or so. Take a walk. Sitting is the new smoking. The other sign in my gym says so.
  5. Set a plan before you go to the party. Are you abandoning yourself to the full celebration, all of the food and alcohol available? You won’t if you think about it first. Amazing how this works!
  6. Drink. Water. It’s filling. It will help you cut back on mindless grazing if you put a glass in your dominant hand. And it will reduce the impact of alcohol. Alternate a glass of water with every glass of alcohol. Start with water. I serve ice water in a glass pitcher with unpeeled thin slices of cucumber with whole fresh raspberries. It’s beautiful on the table, in your glass. Everyone will want some.
  7. Eat before. Don’t show up hungry and never save yourself for the big meal by not eating all day.
  8. Lap the entire buffet table before putting any food on your plate. Check out everything there is to eat before serving yourself. Make choices.
  9. Go for the proteins. Chicken skewers, grilled shrimp, brisket and cheeses are probably better choices than most of the other stuff. Picture proteins and fresh foods like veggies and fruit on 80% of your plate to feed your hunger. A couple of bites of Grandma’s sweet potato casserole – because she only makes it once a year and she’s 90 –and other special holiday goodies can be on the other 20%. Keep in mind that 95% of taste satisfaction is in the first 3 bites.
  10. You do you. You decide the role food plays in your holiday and don’t allow others to decide it for you. Be present in other ways: Praise your hosts. Work the room. Lead the carols. Gather everyone for a game. We could all benefit from more importance being placed on the gathering of family and friends over food. No calories in that.

You’ve got this! Happy healthier holidays! 


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