Battle the Bulge: Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

25 Dec

Battle the Bulge: Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

by Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

It’s that time of year for holiday parties and Christmas feasts. The season is filled with decadent desserts, buffets of food, and rich drinks. Statistics show that the average American gains 1 – 2 pounds during the holiday season.

While that doesn’t sound as bad as the media often portrays it to be, the holiday bulge accounts for 75% of annual weight gained. What’s more, most people don’t EVER lose those pounds as their weight continues to “creep.”

Worse yet, this can set you back on achieving your fat loss goals and wreak havoc on your psyche.  I’m here today to arm you with some great strategies that you can implement immediately to avoid gaining ANY weight during this holiday season.

Practice Mindfulness. The battle starts with a strong mind. Be mindful of your food choices and what you’re putting into your body. Are you choosing food that will nourish your body and keep you strong and healthy? Or, are you opting for foods filled with empty calories, insulin-spiking sugars, and health-robbing fats?

Emotional Eating. Research indicates that our emotions and thoughts play a larger role than environmental cues when it comes to successful weight control. The holidays bring on a host of emotions — both good and bad — that can trigger overeating. Be mindful of your emotions, and if stress is getting the best of you, identify it and deal with it other ways than gorging yourself with Christmas cookies.

Pre-Party. Why wait for the party? One of the biggest mistakes that people make is skipping meals or going to a gathering with a ravenous appetite. This is a recipe for disaster and overeating. Instead, start the party at home with a snack that contains some protein and good fat. These slow-digesting foods will satisfy your appetite and your cravings for hours.

Go Small. Instead of choosing the dinner plates and big bowls, grab smaller appetizer or salad plates. No, the goal is not to see how high a tower of food you can build. You’re less likely to overeat with a smaller plate.

Every Bite Counts. Try counting your bites and chew at least 10 times before swallowing. This exercise not only slows down your eating — which helps you register how full you really are — but it also allows you to fully enjoy and appreciate the eating experience.

BYOB. One of the biggest problems at holiday get-togethers is the limited health-conscious items on the menus. So, bring your own. Your favorite chili recipe would be a healthy hit. Whip up a batch of all-natural, low-carb peanut butter cups to satisfy the sweet tooth. A veggie or fruit tray is another fantastic option.

Dress to Impress. Instead of opting for “stretchy” pants, dress your best and show off that body of yours. If you wear fitted clothing, you’ll be much more cognizant of overeating to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of being full and bloated.

Liquid Calories. Egg nog is the beverage of the season, but it is LOADED with empty calories, insulin-spiking sugars, and waistline-expanding fats. Remember, liquid calories count, too. If you’re going to enjoy a drink, choose red wine, which at least contains some health-promoting polyphenols.

Make a Trade. Studies show that the average American eats out four times per week and obtains 1/3 of the week’s calories from those meals. That’s pretty staggering. If you know that you’re going to be partying more, cut back on your eating out. Even if your nutrition isn’t perfect at get-togethers, you can do an even better job on all of your other meals.

It’s Not About the Food. Many people slack on their exercise during the holidays. If you’re traveling to visit family, do your homework ahead of time and obtain a one-week pass to a local gym.

Not Enough Time. Can’t find the time to do your “normal” workout routine? Plan 10-minute sessions during the day. You might not be able to do an hour at once, but you can certainly find 10 minutes a couple times a day. Focus on bodyweight exercises, taking a walk, or engaging in activities with family. Exercise can be fun, you know?

Sign Up. There are all kinds of holiday fitness events. Sign up for a local 5K. Knowing that you’ll be participating in the event can help keep your training — and nutrition — in line. What’s more, you’ll be doing something fun within your community.

Focus on Family & Friends. The holidays are about so much more than food and drinks. Take the time to really enjoy the people with whom you’re spending your time and put your focus into those relationships.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips, and I hope that you can put them to use right away to battle the bulge this holiday season!

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