The holidays are upon us once again, and regardless of what your family is celebrating, one thing is for certain: the next few months are sure to be filled with cooler temperatures, social gatherings and more than a few rich, high-calorie foods.
Experienced fitness seekers know that staying healthy and keeping the pounds off during the holidays can be as difficult as fighting the crowds on Black Friday. If you want to maintain your current weight during the holiday season (or, even more challenging expectation, lose weight), you had better take the time to prepare a solid health and fitness strategy.
The Holiday season is unique in that they often times produce increased stress and anxiety in meeting commitments at work and in your personal life.
For example, many companies have year-end goals that need to be met while, on the personal side, you have your “friends and family” obligations that must be met. In the case of your personal obligations, in many instances, traveling may also be required as well.
Tips for Keeping Your Weight Under Control During the Holidays
By taking the time to implement a few simple tips and techniques into your Holiday lifestyle, you can enjoy and make it through the upcoming holidays without having to resort to drastic measures when it comes to defining your New Years resolution.
But First, a Study
In 2000, the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) conducted a study in which they tracked weight loss and gain over the holiday season. The average study subject gained just a single pound during the holidays, but consistently failed to lose that one pound once the holidays were over.
Not bad, considering that the average person assumes they gain about 5 pounds each holiday season. The news isn’t quite as good for overweight individuals, who actually do gain an average of 5 pounds every time the holidays roll around.
Exercising During the Holidays
The researchers said that average weight gains were less than what participants expected because they were more likely to be active while eating more heavily. Keep the following tips in mind to increase your activity levels this holiday season:
Park farther away from the store entrance during your shopping excursions.
Keep a brisk pace as you browse the mall, and don’t be afraid to double-back to a store you already hit if it means getting a better deal.
As the temperatures get colder, replace outdoor fitness activities with indoor ones, such as working out to a fitness video or playing an exercise video game.
Use the downtime during meal preparations to squeeze in a few quick exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks. Don’t be afraid to get the kids involved as well.
When entertaining house guests for more than a couple of days, perform your workout routines during times when your guests are sleeping
Watching What You Eat During the Holidays
Of course, staying healthy during the holidays is about more than just staying active – it’s about limiting your caloric intake as well. While this can obviously be difficult when you’re faced with a big, tempting spread of food at Thanksgiving dinner and beyond, the following tips should offer some assistance:
Opt for jeans instead of stretchy slacks when you head to a big dinner. Pants with elastic waistbands can encourage you to continue eating even when you’re full.
Drink more water than usual, and make a point of downing a full glass shortly before each meal. This will help to create a sense of fullness.
Eat a snack with plenty of fiber, such as a low-fat granola bar, approximately one hour before each meal. Your hunger levels should be lower when it comes time to fix your plate.
Eat breakfast every single morning. Try to include plenty of protein by eating a lean cut of meat, nuts or some low-fat dairy. Place more importance on this tip on social gathering days, as you’ll be less likely to get a sugar craving throughout the day.
Plan family activities that aren’t centered around food. Good examples include a walk around the neighborhood to view the lighting displays, a trip to a local tree farm, hosting a snowball fight and visiting a nearby sledding hill.
Staying Healthy During the Holidays: The Bottom Line
Although most individuals overestimate the number of pounds that they pack on during an average holiday season, the reality is that the average individual does gain and keep approximately one pound of body weight between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Buck the trend by taking simple steps towards remaining active and watching what you eat, and be sure to plan a few activities each week that have nothing to do with food.