If you’re not worried about gaining weight over the holidays, perhaps you should be. Despite the popularity of New Year’s weight-loss resolutions, research shows that most people who tend to gain weight during the holidays, don’t lose the extra pounds once the festivities end. So the trick is to avoid weight gain this year and simply go into maintenance mode, enjoy the holidays, and come out the other side the way you went in. Believe it or not, you can actually get even more fit over the holidays, if you are willing to put in a little effort.
1. Stay Active
There are tremendous benefits associated with regular exercise, not the least of which is it generally keeps you more health-minded and making better food choices. If you are exercising regularly, stay on your schedule through the holidays and if not, get started on a program before Thanksgiving!
2. Keep a Food Journal
If you are really serious about avoiding weight gain over the holidays, keep a food journal to keep yourself accountable. MyFitnessPal.com is a free online nutrition journal that will make you aware of how many calories and what types of foods you are eating. You will think twice before making poor food choices, or at least several of them, if you know you have to write them down.
3. Don’t Skip Meals or Arrive at Parties Hungry
Remember to eat something every few hours to keep your metabolism hummin’ along and to prevent the holiday binging that often follows a missed meal or two. If you go to a party or sit down for a holiday meal when you are famished, you are likely to overdo it and make up for everything you didn’t eat earlier in the day — and then some.
4. Use Small Plates
Using a smaller plate limits how much you can load up on at one time, even if you stack it full. Remember to eat slowly and and take the time to thoroughly savor everything you are eating.
5. Wait at Least 30-minutes Between Meals or Snacks
It takes some time for your brain to let you know you are full, so give it a while before deciding whether or not to go back for another plateful.
6. Limit Alcohol Consumption
While alcohol consumption is certainly part of the holiday season for some, keep in mind it provides lots of empty calories and often leads to less control over what you eat. Remember, all things in moderation and watch out for those super high-calorie holiday drinks.
7. Take it One Day at a Time
Take each day individually and do the best you can to stay on track with your exercise and better food choices. As mentioned above, try not to skip meals, but if you know you will be eating more later on in the day, try to go a bit lighter on the calories earlier. You can’t go wrong with lean protein, fruits and vegetables.
8. Avoid the Party Snacks
Don’t waste calories on salty and sugary snack foods, dips, creamy sauces, rich fillings, or lots of cheese. Wouldn’t you rather be able to enjoy having more for dinner and perhaps a nice piece of dessert to top it off?
9. Plan for Indulgence
OK, so there may be a little overindulgence going on, but ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice in exchange for that freedom. Perhaps spend a little more time exercising that day or give up bread or some of the other unnecessary carbohydrates from the meals or snacks earlier in the day.
10. Focus on Family, Friends, and Fun — Not Food!
Spending time with family and friends is one of the greatest things about the holidays. Try not to place too much emphasis on what you eat and drink, but rather the quality time you spend with those you care about most.
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