Maintain, Don’t Gain: Keeping a Healthy Weight Through the Holidays
Studies show that most Americans gain weight every single year. Whether it is just a couple of pounds or substantially more in a given year, those pounds add up as we reach middle age and beyond. Studies show that around fifty percent of the annual weight gain occurs during the holidays and it becomes increasingly difficulty to lose the pounds gained during the holidays by making a New Years resolution.
So what is needed is a sound strategy to avoid weight gain through the holidays: making a plan to maintain, don’t gain.
So here are 15 tips for maintaining a health weight throughout the holidays and avoiding that celebratory weight gain. And rest assured, the holidays start now! It begins with Halloween and all of the proliferation of yummy candies everywhere, in every store, office and home. Just by virtue of the sheer quantities of candies that you see on a daily basis approaching Halloween it is almost impossible to resist trying a few nibbles of your favorites here and there. After all, there is so much of it, I will just have these few pieces, it is just a tiny percentage. But, when Halloween ends the candy consumption does not. Most of us buy way more candy than the trick or treaters could possibly consume and it liners around the house for days and weeks as we nibble on our yummy favorites. A little indulgence and a little nice memory of the costumes and kids.
But, even as the Halloween candy remnants begin disappearing from the pantry, we find ourselves fully in the midst of the season of wonderful cooking and eating. Holiday parties begin to occur, Thanksgiving feasts are planned, sample recipes are tested and all of us spend more Saturdays and Sundays in the Fall tradition of watching football and eating wonderful food. Thanksgiving itself, of course, is usually a wonderful feast, an indulgence of delicious foods prepared with love and abundance. Most of us eat far more on Thanksgiving than we would ever do on any other day of the year. The good feelings and great traditional delights linger around in the form of leftover turkey sandwiches, stuffing and pies.
But, even after you have recovered from Thanksgiving the real eating is just beginning. Holiday parties abound with rich and tasty food, full of catered delicacies and plenty of deserts and alcohol. Traditions across cultures involve family and food. Whether we are baking wonderful Christmas cookies or just preparing family meals to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, and who among us can resist the temptations of wonderful, home cooked treats and meals?
So, how do you avoid gaining the extra pounds during this wonderful, but challenging season of plenty? Well, here are the key tips:
1. Start now! Do not leave this to chance. Make an action plan now before the season starts. Having no plan means accepting, as inevitable, unneeded extra pounds gained.
2. Begin by setting strict limits on the Halloween candy. Do not put candy out throughout the house or work place in bowls and tempting locations. In fact, do not even open the packages until trick or treat day.
3. Do not buy any Halloween candy that you personally like to eat. In fact, if there is a kind of candy that you personally cannot stand, but you know other people like, make that your perennial Halloween candy choice.
4. Weight yourself today and then weight yourself every day from now until your New Years resolution. You may not want to know the numbers, but believe me it is far better to know the numbers every day. You will begin making subconscious changes in your eating behavior that will help keep the pounds off.
5. Remember that exercise is wonderful and critically important. Walk or do some other activity at least thirty minutes every day. But, also remember that you cannot exercise your way out of weight gain. Ninety percent of the hard work comes from reducing calorie intake and particularly carbohydrate intake. Remember that even a vigorous treadmill, elliptical or stair stepper routine for a sold hour burns only about 700 calories. It is so easy to consume 700 calories in about 3 minutes with a nice piece of holiday pie or a couple of good pieces of holiday candy or treats. (I know, it is not fair).
6. Eat breakfast every morning. If you are not a breakfast eater try blending up a whey protein shake. You can put a few ice cubes, a dash of milk, a teaspoon of instant coffee and 2 to 2 ½ heaping scoops of a great whey protein powder and fill up the rest of the twelve ounces of water and you have a terrific textured smoothie for your morning drink.
7. Challenge your friends, family and co-workers. Make an announcement, a contest, or a family challenge. Who can gain the least weight or better yet lose the most pounds between now and January 1st. It will motivate you to try harder.
8. Plan holiday rewards other than food. Celebrate your friendships and family togetherness with hikes outside in the park to enjoy the fall colors, trips to the movie theater or shows, family bicycle rides, dog walking adventures, site seeing trips to your local attractions for your out-of-town guests, going out to sporting events, museums, car shows, or other local attractions occurring through the holidays. The idea is to plan more active opportunities to visit, walk and talk and reduce the times that lead to everyone eating, drinking and sitting around on the furniture.
9. Take advantage of guest passes for the holidays for your visiting relatives. Take them to your gym and continue your work out plan, just make them tag along.
10. Remain very conscious of alcohol consumption. At 7 calories per gram of alcohol, the drinks add up very fast to unwanted pounds. Alcohol also tends to lead to the “what the heck” attitude towards holiday eating, so keep it to one drink, preferably a glass of red wine since it contains resveratrol and other molecules that help with cardiovascular health and definitely the one drink is not a huge margarita or other sugary sweet drink with a whole days worth of calories.
11. Remain conscious of the carbohydrate calories you are consuming. This means minimizing the sweats, first and foremost. Yes, there is all that delicious holiday baking going on, but you have a more important mission to maintain and improve your overall health and longevity.
12. Have a great time at the holiday parties. Talk, socialize, hug, dance, laugh, give, share and love. Enjoy the wonderful celebration of our traditions, families and human connections. None of this joy requires food, alcohol or high calorie egg nog. Celebrate your life and your health.
13. Live with some hunger. Yes, this is true, you do not have to satisfy every pang of hunger that you experience. You will not die if you go to bed without diving back into the plate of holiday cookies.
14. Serve yourself on a very small plate at the holiday party. And while you are at it, fill most of the plate with health items like vegetables, protein and fresh fruit.
15. Keep an account of all the yummy, high calorie and undoubtedly delicious holiday treats that you did not eat. Reward yourself with at least a pat on the back for the discipline in foregoing all those unneeded, but tempting calories.
In summary, you can succeed in losing weight and become a healthier, more energetic, more vibrant person, despite all of these temptations of the holiday seasons, but you need a plan and you need the tools to make it happen. Leaving it to chance or a vague notion of “trying to cut down” is not a plan. It is just a recipe for weight gain and a harbinger of failed New Years resolution too. Take control of your own future, your own fate and your own health. Celebrate these holidays and celebrate a new an healthier you with a proactive plan that starts with these tips.
For more information on 101 medically proven tips for losing weight you can obtain a copy of “Doctor’s Orders: 101 Medically Proven Tips for Losing Weight” by visiting any of the following sites: iMetabolic, Amazon , or your favorite bookstore either online or in person.