Holiday weight gain is real. And the sad news is it takes more than five months to lose those extra holiday pounds. In fact, the average American gains five to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and the day after New Year’s, when the month of culinary atonement begins.
Of course it is very unrealistic to think that you’re going to lose weight during a season of cocktail parties and lavish feasts. However, it is entirely possible to maintain your weight, avoid the holiday weight gain and come out of the holidays without feeling as stuffed as your Thanksgiving turkey.
Here are a few simple tips to help you get through the holidays without gaining a single pound:
Moderation is the key to avoiding holiday weight gain
I know you’re probably thinking, it’s the holiday season and you don’t want to think about fitness. During this time of the year, most people simply throw all healthy habits out the window in order to indulge. Some even stave themselves all day in order to eat more at the party or holiday dinner. These are obviously two approaches that will help to quickly rack on excess holiday pounds. The key is moderation. Enjoy your treats, but don’t give up your exercise program.
To keep holiday weight gain at bay, any exercise is better than no exercise
Did you know that three ten-minute bouts of cardiovascular exercise give you the same benefits as one thirty-minute session. That’s right. So if you don’t have time to do your full workout, go for a ten-minute run around the neighborhood two to three times a day. To avoid holiday weight gain, even a ten-minute workout everyday would be better than nothing at all. That’s still over an hour of exercise per week. However, to get the most out of short workouts you really have to exercise at near maximum intensity.
Avoid holiday weight gain by skipping the carbs, not the entire meal
As I mentioned before, most people like to starve themselves all day in preparation for that one big evening meal. This is a great way to put the pounds on fast. Instead of skipping your meals, simply cut back on the carbs at your earlier meals. Have protein and lots of vegetables only. That way if you over-indulge on the carbs at dinner, it’s okay.
Cut back on your alcohol consumption to avoid holiday weight gain
The average alcoholic drink contains 150-200 calories per glass. Indulge in just 2-3 drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, instead of having a full glass of wine, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water or with a diet cola. This will help cut your calories in half.
Also, eat something before going to an event with alcohol. The effects of alcohol are felt much more quickly on an empty stomach and can lead to overeating and overdrinking. Also try to drink one glass of water before each glass of alcoholic beverage.
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Drinking lots of water can help you avoid holiday weight gain
The water will help you feel full and it is easy to become dehydrated during the cooler months. Force yourself to drink more water than you want.
Can’t avoid the parties? Then BYO to avoid holiday weight gain
Offer to bring a favorite low-calorie dish to the holiday parties, so you know there will be at least one “safe” item available. Arrive fashionably late and stand far away from buffets so you’re not tempted to nibble constantly. Instead, indulge in conversation.
Avoid holiday weight gain by maintaining perspective
Thanksgiving is only one day and so is Christmas. Indulging in your favorite treats for a day won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight! It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. If you over indulge, put it behind you and recommit to your regime the next day. You do have a regime, don’t you?
So there you have it. Follow the above tips and you’ll be ahead of the pack comes January when most people are scrambling to lose those extra pounds they gained between Christmas and New Years.
Here’s the most important thing to remember… it takes approximately two to three days for your body to store excess calories as body fat. What does this mean? It means that even if you were to indulge in your favorite treats, in moderation of course, as long as you’re exercising to burn up those extra calories, you probably wouldn’t gain a single pound.