Statistics show that the average American will gain a few pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, and those who are already overweight or obese tend to gain the most. Many of these folks will then start a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, only to give up after about six weeks. In other words, people gain a few pounds at the end of the year and never lose it, resulting in a progressive weight gain aka “Holiday Creep.”
If you don’t want to wake up on January 1 feeling like you need to punish yourself in the gym to lose the extra pounds you packed on over the last two months, here are a few tips for avoiding holiday weight gain in the first place:
This is actually an effective weight loss strategy at any time of the year, but especially so during the stressful holiday season. Write out a schedule if you have to. It will help you stay organized and less stressed if you can plan in advance when you’re going to do your gift shopping/wrapping/shipping, decorating, writing cards or letters, planning party menus and grocery lists, etc. Many of my clients have a “cooking day” or two in their regular weekly schedule where they whip up several meals, then freeze portion sized servings that only need to be reheated at meal time. The slow cooker is a wonderful thing – and you can do much more with it than just pot roast. And if you’re planning on indulging in a Big Meal, what are you going to give up instead to maintain balance? Are you willing to put in extra time in the gym? No dessert for a week?
Educate Yourself About Nutrition
Get in the habit of reading food labels and understanding what they mean. I’m talking about the ingredients and the labels on the back of the package, not the marketing garbage that makes false promises on the front. Better yet, buy raw ingredients and make your meals from scratch so that you know exactly what you’re eating. Learn to eat real food in balance: lean protein, healthy fats, and get most of your carbs from fruits and veggies instead of sugary foods like refined grains and sweets.
You don’t have to eat some of everything just because it’s there. Be mindful about what you choose to eat – Stick to the healthier options like the veggie tray and skip or limit the junk.
Watch Portion Sizes
Here’s a link to give you an idea about portion sizes, though if you’re sampling lots of foods, you may want to eat even smaller portions of each food so that your total calorie consumption isn’t out of the stratosphere.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Opt for sparkling water with lime instead.
Stay consistent with your workouts.
If you’re feeling crunched for time, make your workouts shorter but higher intensity. High intensity interval training is typically more effective for improving fitness and burning fat anyway. Exercise is a great stress reliever and anti-depressant, too. Here is an example of a great workout that can be done in 20 minutes.
Yes, a calm and positive outlook reduces cortisol, which contributes to increased appetite and weight gain.
One big special meal a year such as Thanksgiving isn’t what causes people to gain weight; but the holiday tradition has become a two month long season instead of just Thanksgiving dinner and a Winter Solstice feast. Now it’s weeks of cookie exchanges, Christmas parties, days if not weeks of eating leftover Halloween candy, and a few different Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings at different households over a long weekend. But with proper planning, you can limit your stress, enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends, and avoid gaining weight that you’ll spend weeks or months trying to get rid of next year. And of course if you need more professional guidance, I’m here to help you!
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!