Waistlines, Mirrors, Jeans and Scales: The Holidays are Here! At this time of the year, those are not among our favorite things. Parties, festive meals, late night drinking, office snacking, and lack of time to exercise soon will be upon us. It’s time, right NOW, to prepare and prevent holiday weight gain.
After all, you and your friends have spent all year exercising, and focused on measures of waist-hip ratios, body mass index, body fat percentage, and it’s been a very successful year. Now comes the Fall and that all too typical holiday weight gain dread begins to set in. While we don’t typically gain as much weight as we fear we will, the difficulty is that many don’t lose the small amount of weight they do gain.
So let’s identify 3 very specific tools you can begin using right now to prevent holiday weight gain and fitness concerns that this time of the year brings.
1. Find ways to increase your activity and movement, if not actually increase your exercise.
Wear a pedometer. You may not have the time to truly spend more time at the gym, so find every imaginable way to increase your activity, even if it seems silly—it keeps your mindset focused in the right direction. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so that means a 200-pound person walking three miles per day even at a moderate pace for one week can burn about 2,300 calories. So, park further away from your office, always take the stairs, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart if possible and turn your house cleaning into pumped up aerobic activity. Dance, skip and hop while you vacuum! Flying somewhere? Take a jog around the airport. Driving a distance? Use a gas or food break to take a vigorous, 100 steps per minute walk for ten minutes. Schedule your training sessions now for throughout the holiday season and commit to meeting friends and co-workers at the gym on any day there is an office party.
2. Party and eat healthy and smart.
That means eating more veggies, fruit, more protein and less refined carbs. Interesting gossip going on over at the buffet? Stay away from the dangerous nibbling that goes on unconsciously. Sure go to the buffet line, but be sure when you leave it you are leaving with fresh veggies, lean meats and other lower sugar and lower calorie goodies. While the stores are filled with delicious treats, avoid the temptation at home and leave those chocolate covered popcorn bags in the store. Whatever else you do, be a dessert splitter. Those cupcakes are going to look great. Small, cute, only 500 calories! Don’t deprive yourself though. Allow yourself one small serving of your favorite treat and be as mindful as possible as you savor the look, taste and aroma of whatever it is that you “must have.”
3. THINk smart.
Plan your eating before you go out and stick to your plan. People have all sorts of unhelpful, irrational thoughts about food, diet, weight loss, especially around the holidays. “Watching what I eat should be easy.” “It’s not okay to waste food.” “If I get hungry, the hunger will get worse and worse until I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make cravings go away.” “It’s okay to eat this food because I’m stressed, everyone else is eating it, it’s just a little piece and I’ll make up for it later.” “I’ve already blown it so it doesn’t matter what else I eat.” It’s important to ask yourself what evidence you have that any of these thoughts, or others you may have, are true. They aren’t. They are just thoughts. Before you go out with your food plan, have a strong counter response thought plan to each of your sabotaging, unhelpful thoughts and be sure you use them immediately.
There you have it–three steps to prevent holiday weight gain through the holidays, starting now. Getting through to New Year’s in great shape and health depends on these three pillars of healthy lifestyle—insuring enough activity, eating properly and thinking wisely.