5 Strategies to Combat Holiday Weight Gain
Holidays are a wonderful time of year full of family gatherings, Christmas carols, gift-giving and oh yes, the best part: lots and lots of food. From the free samples at shopping malls to the dinners at places of worship and friends’ homes, there is food everywhere you go! While this initially seems like a great bonus, having nonstop access to food during the holidays can totally thwart the fitness progress you’ve been making all year. In fact, many of us have struggled with holiday weight gain year after year. But don’t worry—you don’t have to avoid all parties and shopping centers to keep the extra pounds away. Just use some moderation and these five simple tips to make sure you don’t forfeit your figure during the holidays.
- Size up the buffet before you pounce. Most of the time, holiday get-togethers are held around a huge table full of various food selections. Instead of piling up your plate prematurely this year, take a little stroll around the table before you start digging in. This way you can decide which foods you really want and which you can probably live without. When you’re done perusing, portion out the foods you’re going to have. Which brings me to my second point…
- Portion and pace. Yes, the mashed potatoes are so good, I know. But “good” doesn’t have to equal “I need four helpings. “ Limit your consumption of the not-so-healthy side dishes and allow yourself more servings of protein-rich entrees and healthy veggie-based sides. Also remember to pace yourself. Good food is more enjoyable if you savor it than if you swallow it whole.
- Think outside the dining room. It does seem that most of our holiday traditions revolve around eating, but there are tons of activities you can enjoy with your family and friends that don’t involve gorging yourself in food. Go ice-skating at the local rink, if you can find snow, go play in it, participate in a charity run, or go for a jog around the neighborhood to see everyone’s lights. The possibilities for getting physical during the holidays are endless, so get to it!
- You are what you drink. Sometimes we’re so caught up with watching what we eat we forget that our drinks can also be culprits in adding on holiday weight. Beer is about 160 calories per 12-oz. serving—but really, when’s the last time you only drank a 12-oz. of beer? A 4-oz. Margarita contains about 270 calories. Wine is a little better for you, coming in at about 80 calories per 4-oz. serving. The point is that drinking these beverages throughout the night can definitely add up, so it’s important to monitor your drinking. Take your time and opt for a glass of wine instead of a sugary mixed drink.
- Work for it to avoid holiday weight gain. If you know you’re going to be consuming a big meal that everyone’s been preparing all day for, plan to do a really tough workout before you eat. Remember that your body burns more fat at rest after performing high-intensity interval training or heavy lifting, so doing a workout like that before eating a big meal will help you put those carbs to good use.
It’s easy to make excuses for slowing down your training and overeat during the holidays. What’s not so easy is shedding the extra pounds you gained. Put in a little extra effort this season to maintain your healthy weight so that when January comes, you have nothing but happy memories of your holiday.