Are you one of the millions who annually gain anywhere from 7-10 pounds over the six week period from Thanksgiving to NewYear’s Day, only to spend most of next year trying to lose half of it? Ah, but it’s so fun gaining it isn’t?
Between the turkey, the dressing, the football games on TV, the family and the feasts, it’s no wonder that people tend to gain the most weight during this time of the year.
While the average weight gain is not nearly as much as was speculated (nearly 4 times less), the holidays present their own unique set of difficulties for people who already struggle with their weight. More than half of all adults are overweight with a body mass index of 25.0-29.9, while others are classified as obese with BMIs over 30.0 and at increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Without a plan, our management of stress and hunger in correlation to our activity (or lack thereof), can leave us defenseless against the ‘holiday creep.’
Imagine setting a New Year’s resolution that doesn’t involve starting a weight loss or exercise program. The following ten tips will help you to not only survive the holiday season but also lay the foundation for a happy and healthy New Year.
1. Plan ahead – Be more conscious shoppers by not shopping on an empty stomach, more conscious consumers by limiting distractions while you ‘fuel’ and conscious preparers of food by substituting healthier alternatives like fresh vegetables instead of chips and dips.
2.Portion control – Try to use smaller plates(since you’re going to clean your plate anyway), fill half of the plate with veggies and limit salt and artificial sweeteners. Try drinking 8-10 ounces of water before eating that big lunch or dinner as this will trick the body into feeling fuller faster while also aiding in digestion.
3.Outsmart triggers – Identify environmental triggers that cause overeating like certain venues, certain family members, or your favorite football team’s dismal Thanksgiving Day performance and stay in control.
4. Move!!- Go run, throw something, bike, something. Before you say you don’t have time, aim for 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day especially on those ‘special’ days for immediate relief. Go for a family walk(yes the dog can go), play flag football or basketball instead of the inevitable competitive snoring contest after lunch.
5. Don’t drink all of your calories- If you plan on only consuming around 2000 calories a day, be aware that you don’t consume 1000 of them sipping root beers, Shastas, Mr. Pibbs, and teas. That leaves you in jeopardy of over-doing it since you are still gonna eat, right? If you are going to DRINK alcohol, mix in low calorie juice or diet soda.
6. Rest- More natural irritants and less or no sleep: BAD IDEA. Try your best to sleep before midnight since less sleep equals more time for cravings and calories, belly fat, and increased BMI.
7. Manage stress- Plan on taking 10-15 minutes of ‘you time’ to focus on deep breathing, meditation, and just generally not going nuts.
8. Support- Increase your chances of being successful by sharing your goals with a family member or a friend for built-in watchdog-like accountability. Teaming up’ with someone improves your chances of staying on track. Yes, they will be watching….including your children/grandchildren who would just love to spend a few more special days with you.
9. Be social- Please step away from the dip. Go mingle, do not stand/sit by the food table. They aren’t seconds if you never stop eating to begin with. That just sets you up for failure and regret(with a side of misery).
10. Practice willpower-Practice saying no politely to what’s not good for your program and your personal success.
The holiday season can be a tough time anyway but made much more challenging by going into them without a plan or just deciding that you will just ‘weight’ til the new year. By implementing these tips now, you can avoid becoming a statistic and in fact, regain control of your world and keep it truly your happiest yet healthiest-minded time of the year.
Rod Sims is a Cooper Institute Certified Health Promotion Director and owner of BillboardzWellness360. He is a health and wellness expert dedicated to helping people live their best lives in the one house we get to live in for life, our bodies. He provides education and awareness in the personal sector as well as helping businesses save money and jobs. He believes that ‘our first wealth is our health.’