It’s that time of year again, folks. Time for family, friends, and the holiday gain – and no, the holiday gain is not referring to all the presents you get. It refers to the average one to two pounds Americans gain from mid-November to mid-January, according to one study. While this weight gain may not seem significant, it can affect you in many ways, such as digestive issues, acne breakouts, and general sluggishness. These symptoms also come from overeating in general, with or without actual weight gain.
So how do we keep the weight down during the holiday season when we’re surrounded by delicious meats, sweets, and alcohol? Read on to find out my expert* tips on keeping the weight off during the holiday season!
Tips to Keep Weight Off During the Holidays
It may seem like a bad time to start a new workout routine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit any workouts in between family time, catching up with friends over brunch, and your work holiday party. Any movement at all helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and keep you in the right mindset.
One of the simplest things you can do is take a walk. As we have already shown some of the many benefits to walking are mental clarity, aid in digestion and more. Whether it is just around the neighborhood, or through a local park, this is cheap and easy. Not only that, but it might just provide some much-needed relief from your crazy uncle Sal and his moon landing conspiracies theories. So pop in your earbuds (or new noise-canceling headphones if Santa was especially kind to you), queue up your favorite podcasts (such as this one) and take a stroll. Just remember to know how to get back if you’re in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Another thing you can do is find family activities to do that don’t revolve around food. There are so many games and activities that keep you active, while still enjoying family time (Twister, anyone?). Challenge your cousins to a game on Wii Fit, play Charades with your aunts and uncles over a glass of wine, or play a post-Christmas dinner game of touch football in the yard. Even better if it’s snowy and cold because you can enjoy a civil (or not so civil) snowball fight, go ice skating or get an adrenaline high coasting down some hills on your cousins new Christmas sled. Anything that keeps the family moving (even a little bit) and away from another delicious piece of Dutch Apple Tart.
While getting some exercise in is definitely a big component in keeping your weight under control during the holidays, it is only one piece of the puzzle.
Another major factor in regards to weight gain is stress. Stress has many adverse effects and while the holidays should be a time to let those stresses go, they often only amplify them. Shopping, dealing with crowds, travel, and even family can all up our stress levels to unhealthy degrees, which only contributes to weight gain. Trying to keep your stress down during the holiday season will not only help to make the season brighter but also prevent you from gaining too much unnecessary weight.
Two stress-relieving practices that can be done anywhere are yoga and meditation. Even elite athletes swear by yoga. While not really intense workouts, breathing and stretching exercises can help calm you down, keep you feeling balanced and centered and give your body a nice break from slouching on the couch. It’s a great thing to practice first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed to put yourself into a different mindset.
There are hordes of websites telling you which stretching exercises to do to relieve stress in certain parts of the body, but the important thing to remember is to move how it feels good to YOU.
Exercise, movement, meditation are key areas that we should all strive to work on but let’s not forget the main source of weight gain – delicious food. While walking is important, it’s also important to be mindful of what and how we eat, especially during the holidays. Walking for twenty minutes won’t do much to counter the entire pan of potato casserole you downed on Christmas Eve.
At many family holidays, snacks are always laying about, so be mindful of how many handfuls of chocolate covered raisins you devour and keep away if the temptation is just too much. Another thing to do is eat filling foods, such as protein to help tell your brain it’s full. Sometimes it all just looks so tempting though, so be sure to eat smaller portions of everything (small plates is a good way to do this) to balance your meal.
Finally, many people forget about those pesky liquid calories. Beer, wine, soda, and spiked eggnog are many times flowing freely which can be fun, but also contribute to weight gain. Not to mention, we often make worse food decisions as we get drunker, so keep on eye on your alcohol intake to help curb this.
Last Word on The Holiday Gain
While being centered and incorporating movement into your life is important (any time of the year, really), it’s also important to forgive yourself during the holidays. It’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing time. So while we should all be cognizant of our choices concerning our bodies, it’s also important to cut yourself some slack and enjoy yourself. Don’t get disappointed if you ate more than you think you should or didn’t weigh your carb intake out to the right grams. So enjoy that Low Fat Blueberry Cheesecake because after all – New Year’s Resolutions are just around the corner.
*Not technically an “expert”
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