It’s November and it’s cold. It’s dark when you leave for work and probably dark when you come home. For most people that means you go into “hibernation mode”—staying in, not getting out to walk or go to the gym, and maybe eating more of those comforting carbs too. Then there are all those upcoming holiday parties followed by New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. Yikes!
According to studies, many people gain weight during this three-month holiday period. While traditionally it was reported that the gain was 5 to 10 pounds, a more recent Cornell University study said the average is close to 1.5 pounds. This doesn’t sound like much, but since most people gain a few pounds a year as they get older, that extra pound or more you put on over the holidays could continue haunting you until next holiday season.
I’m going to tell you how to put the stop to holiday weight gain—or at least keep it to a minimum:
- Know yourself and plan accordingly. If you tend to binge-watch Netflix over the colder winter months, vow to get to the gym or do an exercise video before you settle in for a night of House of Cards. Or if you watch live TV, mute those commercials and do some cardio instead. If you tend to carb load at night, switch your large meal to lunch and eat a light dinner—perhaps a filling veggie soup?
- Move more. You can do this by building in activity into your daily routine. While your coffee is brewing, or your tea is steeping, do some jumping jacks, stretching, lunges or wall pushups. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park a bit farther away from your destination (if it’s safe) and get in those extra steps. Do you spend too much time at your desk? Research shows that sitting eight hours a day with not much activity gives you the same mortality risk as if you were obese or a smoker. Every half hour or so, make sure you get up and take a 2-3 minute activity break. You could also take your phone calls standing up or walking around—or try a vertical desk. If you’re like me, time at the computer goes fast and it’s easy to forget to move. Setting an alarm on your phone or paying attention to the vibrations on your FitBit can get you up and moving.
- Set a strategy for holiday parties. Remember step one and plan accordingly. If you tend to blow your carb control at parties, or just generally eat too much, follow these steps:
- Bring something healthy. There are generally enough sweet and salty snacks at the party—bring something light you can fill up on! Perhaps a riced cauliflower dish? Or Curried Pumpkin Soup—it will fill you up—but not out. How about some apple slices with a Greek Yogurt Caramel Dip?
- Eat a meal or just a piece of fresh fruit before the party. Party fare tends to be high calorie. If you eat a light meal, or just eat an apple on the way over, you’ll be less tempted by the buffet table. Make sure to brush your teeth before the party to help fight temptation.
- Alcohol definitely adds to the holiday spirit this time of year, but it also has a butt-load (pun intended) of calories!! Sip smart! Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach—it causes your blood sugar to drop—and your stomach to growl! Lowest calorie drinks include alcohol and zero-calorie additions like club soda, water and diet soda. Or lighten up your wine by turning it into a spritzer with club soda and a squeeze of lime. Try a mock margarita by adding tequila and a squeeze of fresh orange and lime to diet 7-up or Squirt.
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