The holidays are in full swing. And with the holidays come lots of food, drink, travel and excuses not to workout. The perfect storm for weight gain. Truth be told, the average person doesn't gain all that much in between Thanksgiving and New Years. In fact, most people gain somewhere between one and three pounds. That's it.
So what's the big deal?
A pound here and a pound there is nothing to sound the alarms about. It seems, however, that when people gain weight over the holiday season, they keep it on. Year after year, the weigh compounds and before you know it, that innocent little pound has become 10, then 15, then 20. If you typically gain in the ballpark of three pounds over the holidays - do the math. This upward crawl of weight is called creeping obesity. No amount of mashed potatoes, peppermint mochas or cookies is worth it.
I'm not a dieter, and I would never recommend anyone else diet either. All you need to do to make this holiday season is be a little diligent. You don't have to be a slave to the foods you eat, just be conscious! Here are a few ways, that don't include dieting, for you to try to curb the weight from coming on at all.
1) Write it Down!
You’d be amazed at how much better you’ll eat this holiday season if you make yourself accountable – even if that means making yourself accountable to a notebook with a list of what you ate that day. Start keeping track of what you eat and when you exercise each and every day – especially weekends! Keep a notebook next to your bed or start a journal on your computer that you can keep adding on to. Before working with a new nutrition client, I always ask them to write down what they’ve eaten for two weekdays and one weekend day. After we meet, they tell me they’re always surprised to see what they eat over the course of the day mapped out in front of them. It keeps them on their toes and makes them think twice before going for that extra piece of chocolate.
2) Moderation, not deprivation
If Aunt Beatrice went out of her way to make your favorite pumpkin pie topped homemade whipped cream, go ahead and have a small slice. One piece of pie (or any dessert for that matter) is probably not going to do any harm. It’s the daily dose of dessert that gets you down and your weight up. Deprivation can be just as bad. If you deprive yourself of the occasional dessert, you’re much more likely to overindulge later.
3) Liquids count, too!
Juice, egg nog, soda, alcohol, coffee drinks and just about every other beverage with the exception of water contains calories. Your body stores these calories in the same way it stores calories from too many cookies or chips. Calories your body doesn’t use get stored as fat. It’s easy to forget about calories in what you drink, but remember, it has the same impact as what you eat. A good rule of thumb is to drink one small glass of water before you drink anything else—especially the drinks that have a tendency to dehydrate, including those that are alcohol, caffeine or sugar-packed.
DID YOU KNOW: Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. In a nutshell, when we drink alcohol, our body has no idea what to do with it, so it gets metabolized first. That means anything else that you eat gets put on hold in your body, and likely stored as fat, until all the alcohol gets broken down. Just another reason why it's a good idea to eat healthy and drink in moderation.
4) Don’t Slow Down
If you managed to head out for a jog everyday before or after work, don’t stop. It’s hard on everyone to get up early in the morning during the winter, especially when the sun is still an hour from rising. And it’s just as hard to work out in the evening when the sun is already down! You don’t have to do the same type of exercise day-in and day-out, but working out at the same time will keep your motivation up. As soon as you break your routine – falling off the wagon – it’s a lot harder to get back on and build up momentum! If you’re currently not working out, consider starting your New Year’s resolution early.
DID YOU KNOW: My book, The Belly Burn Plan has 22 workouts just waiting to make you sweat and get fit! Every workout comes in beginning, intermediate and advanced levels - so anyone can do them. This is the perfect gift to get for someone on your list, or for you to start doing right now. Why wait until January 1st?
5) Don’t throw in the towel:
Let’s say it’s a week after Thanksgiving. So far you’ve stuck to your plan of eating well without too many foods that will throw your diet out of whack. Suddenly you find yourself eating a much-too-large piece of chocolate cake followed up by a cookie. Do you: a) call it a year and figure it’s easier to start fresh in the New Year or b) get right back on track chalking the cake and cookie up to a lesson learned.
Hopefully you answered “b” - don’t sabotage your efforts because of one or two bad foods. Besides, there’s no better time than the present to start eating right!
There it is. My short list of what you can do to give yourself a helping hand over the holidays. Your body will love you for it. If you're looking for a book loaded with recipes to help you get eating right come January 1st, then pick up The Belly Burn Plan and start eating right for your body type!