PRO TIPS: HOW NOT TO GAIN WEIGHT OVER THE HOLIDAYS
Tis’ the season for reckless abandonment of your healthy diet and regimented workout schedule. Between November and January, most adults gain one to ten pounds and most never lose the added pack-on. Holiday weight is one of the biggest culprits to yearly weight gain.
However, weight gain during the holidays is avoidable despite your long list of holiday parties, gatherings and the treats available around every corner. Don’t get into the holiday habit of saying, “I’ll start tomorrow!” If you truly want to both eat your holiday cookies and maintain your weight, you’ll need to get serious about controlling your consumption during this very festive holiday time. Set limits and stick to your health goals so that you do not end up in the vicious cycle of over-indulgence. If you don’t, you will not only gain weight but you will also have less energy, lose sleep and overtax your digestive system. Even if you have a slip-up or two (Hello, grandma’s homemade cookies!), don’t abandon your goals. Move on and make healthier choices next time.
Here are my top NINE tips to help keep you accountable during this season of splurging and to keep you from paying the price later in the year. You got this!
1. The Season Of Little Sleep
It’s extremely easy to go through the entire holiday season without sufficient sleep and to feel exhausted most days. Studies show that sleep deprivation not only doesn’t feel great, it can lower your metabolism, cause you to consume more calories and exercise less. Make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep a night most nights of the week. Your waist will thank you!
2. All Of Your Day’s Calories In One Bite
Eek, did you really just eat a full day’s worth of calories in just one holiday meal? It’s easy to do and is the main reason for weight gain during the holidays. There are lots of simple ways that you can lower your calorie total, especially if you’re the doing the holiday baking and the cooking.
Easy Baking and Cooking Tips:
Instead of Butter: Mashed Banana, Applesauce, Pumpkin Puree, Herbs & Spices, Olive Oil
Instead of Sugar: Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Peppermint Extract, Cinnamon
Best Cooking Methods: Bake, Steam, Grill
3. That Plate Is Huge!
People tend to consume much larger portions off of larger plates than if they opt for a smaller salad plate. Did you know plate size impacts portion size? With so many dinner parties, potlucks and passed foods, be smart about your portion size and what you put on your plate. Be picky. Using a smaller plate is a simple trick to help control your portions and lower your chances of joining the holiday weight gain club. It’s not the cool club to be in!
4. Say Bye-Bye To Stress
It should be top priority to get a handle on having smart tactics to combat your stress during the holidays (and really all year long). Whether it’s yoga, exercise, fresh air, meditation or deep breathing, figure out what works best for you and implement it when you feel stress rising. Keeping up with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be stressful even to the most calmest of people. High stress has been shown to raise cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and can actually cause weight gain because you crave and eat more foods, usually unhealthy ones, during high stress times. Breathe deeply. Breathe deeply….
5. Move It To Lose It
Between watching a marathon of holiday movies and days worth of TV sports, the holidays can become quite sedentary. It’s important for your digestive system, mental calmness and your overall health to continue to get that body of yours moving, sweating and stretching. Plan activities for the whole family that involve physical activity. Fit exercise in whenever you can and remember that a little goes a long way. Exercise will help you burn those extra calories and if you include weight training, you will add extra definition and leanness, which is always a plus! Get up and go for a walk!
6. Protein Power
Protein is a must in each and every meal – it helps reduce calorie intake by promoting fullness thus reducing overall appetite. Protein may even speed up your metabolism and help control hunger hormones. Most holiday meals are full of carbs and lack lean proteins so it’s important to include smart proteins like grilled poultry, seafood and plant food options like legumes, beans and quinoa to your meals. Consuming between 25-30 grams of protein at each meal encourages your body to meet weight loss goals.
7. Fiber First
Many holiday foods are in serious need of some fiber loving. It’s up to you to make sure your daily meals are filled with lots of vegetables (especially greens), fruits (berries!), nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes. By increasing your fiber, you may be able to decrease your caloric intake and this can support your weight loss efforts.
8. Don’t Overdo Dessert
Dessert! Dessert! Dessert! For most, the holidays and dessert indulging go hand in hand. Excessive sugar consumption is not only terrible for your body but is a major cause of weight gain. Be picky and put your moderation skills to work. Make sure to only eat the desserts that you know you love, eat them slowly, mindfully and savor each and every bite. Then move on. You will feel satisfied and in control and not fall into the trap of the never-ending sugar high of the holiday season…that often ends with the dreaded sugar crash.
9. Green Light: H2O. Yellow Light: Alcohol. Red Light: Soda
Liquid calories are often the worst type of calories because they’re easy to drink and drink and drink, and even more so during the holidays. They’re usually filled with tons of added sugars, and they don’t really seem to fill you up and can cause unwanted weight gain. Sodas, alcohol, all kinds of frou-frou coffees, juices and eggnog are usual holiday go-to drinks. Alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase food consumption and therefore add more calories. Make sure you drink plenty of water during the holidays, especially between alcoholic drinks.
Holiday Take Away:
Enjoy every second! Be mindful. You don't need to eat it all at every event and at every meal. You won’t starve. Don’t abandon your goals if you do happen to overindulge. Simply drink extra water, move that body more and make smart decisions at your next gathering or meal. You CAN have your cake and a healthy, lean body too…you just need to have a realistic holiday plan and stick to it. The best present you can give yourself is your health and definitely not the gift of added pounds.