One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to the holidays is to start eating healthier after the holidays. I know, I know. It's the holidays and you (and I) should be able to indulge a little bit more than the usual. But that doesn't mean 24-7 for two months, does it? Holiday weight gain is real...and it doesn't come off as fast as you think.
You'll be happy to know that many of the stats that you've read about holiday weight gain are a little exaggerated. You're not gaining 10+ pounds in between Thanksgiving and the new year. You actually gain closer to 2 to 3 pounds.
Sigh of relief, right?
Well, not so fast. The problem is the weight comes on, but it never comes off. Most people who gain weight over the holidays keep it on until the next holiday season. Then they gain a couple more pounds. Compound this over a few years, along with any other weight gained over the year, and you've got yourself something referred to as creeping obesity.
Creeping obesity happens whenever we let our guard down when it comes to the foods we eat. So it's not surprising that we tend to add to our collective waistline at various points throughout the year, including:
- Business Trips
- Unusually Stressful Times (death of a loved one, divorce, layoff)
I'm hardly suggesting that you try to be perfect during the holidays, avoiding every cookie, glass of egg nog or spoonful of mashed potatoes in sight, but I do think it's extremely important to have your healthier habits sitting next to you in the front seat. The healthier habits are sort of your co-pilot until the holidays, or any other period of stress or pressure, is over.
5 Tips to Manage Holiday Weight Gain
No matter who you are and no matter where you live, you can avoid holiday weight gain. I promise.
Sure, you'll have food pushed and shoved in your face for a couple months, but if you follow these tips and stay focused on what's more important (YOUR HEALTH), you'll be just fine!
1. AM water: Drink 12 - 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning. You're dehydrated and need it. Your metabolism will inherently improve and your body will simply operate better.
2. Don't eat dessert for breakfast: After Thanksgiving, I was sent home with a loaf of banana. I'll admit, it can be tempting to have a slice of bread with some coffee or tea first thing in the morning, after all it's only 'bread,' right? Not so much. It's a pastry. Eat a breakfast with much less refined sugar in the morning (think protein, healthy fat and complex carbs), and make sure the breakfast is right for your body type. If you don't, you'll likely be hungry within a couple hours of eating - and that's no fun.
3. 30 minute activity rule: Travel can throw off any good exercise plan, so take the stress off of thinking you have to make it into the gym every day or most days of the week, and let your body do all the work from home. I recently posted a body weight workout that can be done in 30 (or so) minutes. It's good, effective and will keep your tushy in shape for your cute holiday outfits.
4. Veggie bowl once a day: Once a day, every day fill up a cereal bowl with vegetables...raw, preferably - and eat them. Instead of grabbing for a piece of chocolate when hunger sets it, go for veggies. I know this sounds like boring advice, but if you plan by having your favorite chopped veggies in the fridge, and a bowl on hand that's handy, you're much more likely to follow through with this. Sure, you can indulge every now and then in a holiday treat, but at least one snack a day will be nutrient-filled...and filling for you, too. Check out the cereal bowl diet I posted over the summer for tips on how to stick to this.
5. Stop eating two to three hours before bed: Eating just before you hit the sack is the kiss of death, particularly for "Pear Types," or those of us who carry body fat through the bottom and thighs. Say no to that handful of chips, candy or [fill in the blank with your fave nighttime snack.]
Nope, this wasn't a 20-point list, but by doing these five, your body will be in much better shape by January 2nd than it would be if you opted to avoid water, forgo exercise, eat pastries for breakfast, ignore veggies and eat before bedtime...ALL of which can sabotage anyone's plan for diet and exercise.