The holidays are upon us and flashbacks of seasons gone by where you have a habit of consuming one cookie, a slice of cake or sweet alcohol beverage too many does not escape you as a bundle of bad memories. You are probably very sensitive to the fact that the fat cells within your body attract pounds during the holiday and getting rid of those unwanted pounds in the new year becomes increasingly difficult.
Studies show that most people gain anywhere from .8 to 2.2 pounds every year. The first ten days following Christmas appear to be the riskiest period of them all. In many instances, his weight gain is the result of eating foods that are high in sodium, but for many of us its sodium and far too many calories and fat that gets us into trouble.
The evidence of these experiences is hanging in the closet. Your wardrobe more than likely reflects the effects of a season in which you might have indulged one time too many and the scale did not cooperate with your efforts to return to your previous weight.
The research demonstrates that the weight you gain over the holidays is particularly difficult to lose and over time, it can prove extremely difficult to shed these pounds if we are not vigilant out of the gate during those first few weeks in the new year.
Of course, you want to partake in the joys of the season which includes festive gatherings, friendly conversation, and good food. Some people also use foods to cope with positive and negative effects of the season. No matter for your reason for eating a little too much this season, you should not spend time beating yourself up for your meal choices.
You have the option to either take control of your eating habits before over-indulging or you can establish a plan for the post-eating event now and get ahead of any linger weight gain effects.
Let’s examine all the options.
14 Great Tips for Preventing Holiday Weight Gain
Sometimes, the best game plan is proactive and not reactive. In this instance, you should probably hope for the best but plan for the worst. It’s a cliché statement, but these words have meaning when it is likely you will spend your days and weeks coming face to face with sugar, high fat, excess calories and more carbohydrates that you consume in a single year. Your focus during this time of year should be prevention.
Here are a few tips to assist you in preventing holiday weight gain.
1. Boost Your Physical Activity Before and After the Big Events
One way to prep and repair your body for an uptick in calories is to engage in physical activity. Boost your exercise activity. If you currently exercise three times a week, you may want to either extend the duration of your workout by 30 minutes, increase the intensity but not the duration or add an extra day during the week. By boosting your physical fitness, you will help your body to burn the extra calories you are consuming.
Remember, you do not have to spend hours in the gym. You can take walks, go for a swim, participate in a kick-boxing class, take Zumba or add a yoga class to your schedule.
Resource: Make your custom yoga plans online, and lose weight using yoga at the comfort of your home. Learn more…
2. Hydrate Consistently and Often
Two-thirds of your body consists of water, and it depends on it for optimal function. During the holiday season, you will want to boost your water consumption. Hydrate frequently and hydrate often. This time of year is hectic, and we sometimes fail to take care of our basic needs.
Water can contribute to weight loss. It helps our bodies to decipher between dehydration and real hunger. It helps to increase our energy levels, and studies show that drinking water can enhance our metabolism rate by as much as thirty-five percent.
Another positive aspect of drinking water is that this beverage is calorie-free. That means you can pretty much consume as much as you like and not worry about drinking too much sugar or calories that will cause weight gain.
How much water should you drink in a day? Ideally, you should target eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water each day or more if you are active.
Related: 20 Best weight loss drinks for your waistline. Read more…
3. Be Polite but Say ‘No’
Do not feel any sense of obligation to anyone but yourself to eat a meal. You have the right to say ‘no.’ Permit yourself to turn down that extra helping of ham, cake, beverage or cookies this year. You have an obligation to your body and no one else. Of course, say ‘no’ with a smile — no need to offend your host.
4. Do Not Skip Meals
Do not skip any meals during this season. While your goal might be to reduce your calorie consumption or leave the door open to eating whatever it is you want, it can increase your risk for overeating. Think of the decisions you make when you shop when you are hungry. Many of us buy foods we might not purchase if we were not hungry. However, when we consume breakfast and lunch, we are less likely to not overindulge at parties.
One tip to consider, while you should not skip any meals, you can decrease your calorie consumption for the day. Whatever you decide to do, avoid arriving at your party hungry.
5. Always Go for the Fruits and Veggies First!
Prioritize your food consumption by eating what you know to be good for you first. That piece of advice means you should stack your plate with fruits, veggies and – if they are available, lean proteins. This step will help you to avoid overeating sugars or excessive calories.
6. Plan Your Attack
Let’s face it; The idea that you are going to attend a party and not eating anything is not always a realistic approach. So, what are your options? It all starts with having a strategy or plan of attack. How about taking the time to recon your food options?
Instead of diving right into the food race, take a stroll around the venue. Visit with other guests as you peruse your options, then choose the foods that will do the least harm to your waistline.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
The holidays are full of seasonal drinks that can add inches to your waistline. Make a conscious decision not to overindulge. If you are planning to eat well, you will have to closely monitor your beverages of choice as these calories will add up quickly.
8. Keep Your Home Stocked with Healthy Foods
Now is not the time to fall behind on your grocery shopping schedule. You will especially want to keep your pantry and fridge well-stocked with healthy foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Think of your homes as being that protective shield from the outer world of holiday cuisine.
9. Prepare for Food Gifts
There are those in your life who love to give the gift of food. Have a plan for what it is you will do with those goodies. Remember, just because they give it does not mean you have to eat it. You can re-gift (be careful if you do this) it to someone else, or you can divvy up goods into single servings so that you consume them over the long term as a component of a meal plan so that you do not dare to eat it all in one binge-eating episode.
10. Do Not Hold Onto the Leftovers
Are you one who likes to keep the leftovers? Leftovers can make for excellent lunch and dinner recipes; however, did you know they can also contribute to excess weight gain during this time of year? The food may taste great but be careful to not store them away for later. Give away your sweets to others who might appreciate them or have room for a few more pounds this year.
11. Portion Sizes are Everything
Watch your portion sizes. Remember, you are taste testing not partaking in each dish or appetizer as though it is a meal. By controlling your portion size, you won’t experience any feelings of deprivation. Go for the smaller plates.
These items are usually available at the dessert table. Use those small plates to help you keep your food consumption under control. At a minimum, these small plates will force you to work a little harder at overeating as they will force you to make a few more trips to those delicious dishes.
Resource: Learn the art and science of portion control for permanent weight loss. Read more…
12. Don’t Go Back for Seconds
Try to not go back for seconds. This advice is probably easier said than done, but mentally prepare yourself to avoid making those extra trips back to your favorite dishes. Make a deal with yourself and plan a secret reward for yourself if you can keep your end of the bargain.
13. Do Not Confuse Stress Eating with Holiday Eating
The holidays can be a stressful time. For some of us, we are overspending to make someone else happy or we are hosting close relatives and in-laws which can trigger a significant amount of stress. Know the signs of stress eating versus overindulgence in foods of the season and do what is necessary to take control. Find healthy outlets to rid yourself of stress through fitness, meditation or even counseling.
14. Do Not Throw in The Towel
The thing that gets many of us in trouble is the decision to throw in the towel and assume that no matter what we do, we will experience weight gain at some point in time. Stay vigilant in your efforts. Pick a single day or event to enjoy the goods. Use the remainder of your week to follow a healthy diet. If limiting yourself to a single event seems dang near impossible, taste test but do not spend your time grazing over every single dish.
9 Easy Tips for Losing Any Pounds Gained
If you lose the battle with the scale this season, do not panic. You have the power in your hands to reverse your expanding waistline. Some of the advice for preventing holiday weight gain applies after the weight gain occurs as well.
1. Do Not Wallow in Your Misfortune
If you happen to gain weight, this season do not panic and do not allow yourself to wallow in your misfortune. What’s done is done, and now you have to begin to develop a plan of action for how to reverse those pounds. Those feelings of panic and stress can be overwhelming, but you will need to make some admissions to yourself. You are here now and panicking over what is staring back at you in the mirror or on the scale will not change anything at the moment.
Instead of losing time revisiting all of the wrong steps you took to get here, use it to identify where it is you need to start to see positive results immediately.
2. Find Your Motivation
What is your motivation to lose this weight? It would be time for a bit of self-reflection if your scale did take an upward swing. Once again, this self-reflection is not about what you did to get here but more along the lines what it will take to get you to where it is you need to be in the realm of losing those pounds.
How important is this weight loss to you and how confident are you that you can do the things that will be necessary to achieve your desired outcomes? For some of you, your goal will be to fit back into your work clothes so that you do not have to purchase a new wardrobe.
For others, it may be more health-driven. For example, if you have diabetes or someone who suffers from high blood pressure, allowing yourself to retain the extra pounds will not be an option.
Whatever your motivation is for shedding those unwanted pounds, you will want to hold onto each one as a reminder for why it is you are taking these steps.
3. Set Goals
Set some SMART goals for yourself up front so that you know what your end game is before getting started. Are you trying to lose five pounds? Ten pounds? Two pounds? Whatever your goal is make sure you are clear about what it is you working towards achieving so that you do not lose sight of it. Once you achieve this goal, remind yourself that anything more is icing on the weight loss cake of success.
4. Boost Your Water Intake
One of the best ways to get back on track is to start with your water consumption. Use the first week after the holidays to get your water hydration back on track. Replace juices and sodas with water. Your goal here is to cleanse your system of those toxins you picked up over the holidays. Additionally, boosting your water intake will help to reset your energy stores.
5. Avoid Skipping Meals
Your goal is to get things back on track. You want to follow a few of your habits such as eating three meals a day. Skipping meals will throw your blood sugar, and metabolism out of whack (unless it’s Keto or Intermittent Fasting) and your body will eventually adjust accommodate the change. This shift will cause your body not to shed pounds or in some instances, may even contribute to weight gain.
6. Get Out and Get Active Again
Same advice still applies. You cannot underestimate the importance of staying true to a consistent exercise regimen. If you do not have a lot of time to get in a lengthy workout, aim for 15 minutes of intensity five days a week over the next month. You will see the results. Exercise and fitness are typically at the top of our list as a New Years’ resolution, but do not worry about making it yours. There is no need to make this action item more daunting than it has to be by turning it into a lifestyle change.
In this instance, you are merely fighting for the reversal of holiday side effects. If it happens to convert into a lifestyle change, kudos to you!
7. Weigh Yourself
Do you know people who brag about achieving significant weight loss without ever stepping on the scale? These individuals claim to have no idea how much they weigh or what pounds they lost. However, their clothes are magically looser, and all is right in the world. Guess what? This approach may be delivering great success for them, but for most of us, the research states that if we are to see significant weight loss, we will need to weigh ourselves to see results habitually.
Yes, it is true; the scale is not the end all determinant of whether or not you are losing weight. You have to consider if your clothes are giving some testimony to changes in your body when the scale is not keeping up. Another tell-tale sign may include changes in your energy levels or lab values obtained by your physician during a wellness check.
It is important to note that getting on the scale helps you to stay accountable, and it helps you to know if your interventions to lose weight is effective at all. Everyone is different.
If you find that nothing is changing despite your actions, try weighing yourself to determine if you are losing weight. However, do not lose focus if your scale lags behind. Remember to use it as a gauge as to whether or not you are staying on track. You should aim to lose one to two pounds per week.
8. Track What You Eat
There are dozens of apps available that will help you track what you eat. LoseIt and MyFitnessPal are excellent apps that will allow you to journal your food intake and show you if you are consuming too many calories. Studies demonstrate that those who document what they eat are more likely to be successful in losing weight. Think of this practice as mindful dieting. Tracking what you eat will enable you to become self-aware of what you are choosing to put in your mouth, how much, and how your body is responding to it.
9. Get Your Sleep Routine Back on Track
Sleep is vital to any weight loss strategy. You know the rules. You should aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night. When we fail to take control of our sleep habits, it leaves us susceptible to other risk factors including excess snacking, erratic hunger hormones, raised stress hormones, and a dreaded shift in our metabolism.
Pick a Strategy To Lose Weight and Stick With It
Find a way of eating and stick with it. Some experts will tell you to steer clear of diet fads, but sometimes, we all need something to jumpstart our bodies and our metabolism after weeks of binge eating. There are several popular ways of eating that continue to yield results for avid followers.
Here are a few dietary lifestyle options for you to consider.
A plant-based diet focuses you primarily eating or receiving your daily nutrients from plants. Aside from the obvious of eating fruits and vegetables, you are also able to eat whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils, beans, and legumes. Do not confuse following a plant-based diet with being a vegetarian. Although these lifestyles are similar, they are still entirely different.
Following a plant-based diet does not mean you will never eat meat or dairy again. What it does mean is that you purposefully choose to get most of your nutrition from plants instead.
The ketogenic diet, better known as the keto diet produces immediate results for those who can adhere to the strict guidelines of this way of eating. The keto diet requires you to increase your vegetable, lean protein, and healthy fats intake. In essence, the keto diet fools your body into using its stores of fat for energy. Only five to ten percent of your caloric intake comes from carbohydrates while fifteen to thirty percent of your calories come from protein and another sixty to seventy-five percent of your caloric intake comes form fat.
This diet will deliver results within a matter of two to seven days after your body enters ketosis. There are numerous positive side effects including a boost in energy levels and drop in pounds on the scale and inches.
What Foods Can You Eat on the Keto Diet?
- Beef, pork, poultry
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Sour Cream
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds (in moderation)
Try to avoid the following foods when following the ketogenic diet:
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, or corn
- Soda or sugary drinks
Start your keto diet journey – Get a customized Keto Meal Plan according to your goals and preferences
Another option to consider is the Mediterranean diet. Physicians love this heart-healthy diet that centers around foods of the Mediterranean including fish, fruits, red wine, and vegetables and access to healthy fats. Foods to avoid on this diet include unhealthy fats.
Healthcare providers love this diet because it improves your cholesterol readings which is vital in the fight against heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
This diet does not only consist of fruits, vegetables, and fish, but you do have a few carbohydrate options, unlike the keto diet which bans certain foods from the menu. The Mediterranean diet allows you to eat pasta and rice.
What Can You Consume on the Mediterranean Diet?
- Extra-virgin or virgin olive oil
What will you give up on the Mediterranean Diet?
- Bacon and other fatty meats
- Milk (limited to two percent milk)
Do Not Give Up
Relapses are inevitable and a part of embarking on a change such as the one you are pursuing. You will probably fail at some point along your journey. The key will be to forgive yourself and always ask yourself, ‘what do I need to do to get back on track with my weight loss goals?’ Tomorrow is a new day, and it is an opportunity to hit the reset button.
This philosophy does not mean you should give yourself a pass every-time you fail. You must be accountable to you and your body, however, do not allow yourself to get so down that you are not able to focus your energy on the task at hand.
Take Action to Kill Hunger and Cravings
There are several steps you can take to kill those pesky hunger pangs that will undoubtedly lure you into eating more than you should on the backend of the holiday season. In addition to water consumption, try consuming teas that can help you better manage the sensation of hunger such as peppermint tea, green tea, black tea, red tea.
In closing, you have the option to take preventative measures now to plan for the remainder of this holiday season. You can be strategic and target specific items that are realistic for you to initiate now and save yourself from gaining those dreaded pounds now.
Delineate between stress eating and holiday eating. They are not the same. If you are stress eating, you will need to make some modifications in your life to rid yourself of some fraction of the anxiety you are suffering.
Keep in mind that if you are not successful, there is no need to beat yourself up or wallow in your mistakes. You can start anew by making small changes in your eating and fitness regimen so that you can reverse your weight gain and not become a statistic.
Be accountable to yourself but to do not get too hung up in relapses or plateaus. Keep pushing forward until you can achieve the result you are so desperately seeking.
You have the right to forgive yourself for failures and mistakes but do not allow yourself to make too many excuses at your peril.