Are you looking forward to the holidays but not to the extra pounds that come with celebrating?
According to recent studies, the average American gains between 5 and 15 pounds from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Eve. Many people really enjoy the holidays—spending time with friends and family, taking extra time off work, shopping for gifts. There’s something in the air that seems to put everyone in a good mood. However, the cooler weather isn’t the only thing that changes in December— most people report a change in their daily routine in the weeks leading up to the New Year. For parents, Thanksgiving and Winter Break bring the added stress of having your kids home from school. Most of us have family visiting Houston or travel to other cities to visit them. Holiday’s are packed with fun, and calories. However, just because we like to celebrate does not mean that our weight has to suffer because of it. Here are a few key tips to avoiding the notorious holiday weight gain:
1. Keep up your exercise routine! Even though your work and weekend schedules may change, it’s important to prioritize your workout this season. Make sure you are active for at least 30 minutes per day. If you’re one of those people who feels lost at the gym, that’s ok!—there are plenty of other options. Many local workout studios including Define, Pure Barre, Big Yoga, and Soul Cycle add in extra classes over the holidays. Personal trainers often have special holiday discounts to help keep you accountable. It’s much easier to be proactive— continuing your weekly routine— than reactive, and stressing to lose the weight come January 1st. So put on your tennis shoes, wake up 30 minutes early, and head to the gym for some cardio! Or even better—take a walk around the block or the park with your family.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Especially during the week leading up to a big meal, it’s important to make sure we stay hydrated. And just for clarification, you stay “hydrated” by drinking water. Not juice, not milk, not soda, not tea, not wine—water. Most people who think they’re hydrated are actually underestimating that term. Take your body weight, divide it by two, and that is the minimum amount of fluid ounces of water you should be drinking daily. For example, a woman who weighs 140 pounds should have a minimum of 70 fluid ounces of water daily. When we put that into perspective, it’s easy to see how most of us are dehydrated. Often times, when our body alerts us that we’re “hungry,” we’re actually just dehydrated. So before you listen to your stomach and indulge in that craving, drink a full glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and see if that will help eliminate those unnecessary calories.
3. Stock up on healthy snacks for the pantry and refrigerator to help you avoid those calorie-packed leftovers. Most people report visiting the grocery store more frequently during the holidays. While there will undoubtedly be foods that you don’t usually buy in your shopping cart, make sure to include extra fruits and vegetables to snack on. Throughout the day, instead of snacking on the leftover pecan pie your mother-in-law insisted you take home, grab some hummus and carrots to satisfy your creamy and crunchy cravings. The morning after a big meal, resist the urge to over-indulge on leftovers and cook up a healthy breakfast.
4. Never go to a party hungry! Before that Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukah party, make sure you’ve had a small healthy snack before you leave the house. This will help you resist the urge to binge eat right when you walk in. Typically, the spread of cheese trays, chips and dip, and other appetizers can be overwhelming. Most of us ruin our appetite before the main course meal is even ready. Snack on some fruit, vegetables, or nuts before you leave the house and avoid extra appetizers—that way, your grandmother won’t be upset when you’re too full to try her famous casserole that she “slaved away all day to cook.”
5. Take care of yourself, emotionally. If the holidays tend to make you extra anxious, book an appointment with your therapist who will help you come up with a plan to ease your stress level. Set boundaries ahead of time with your family members on the acceptable dates to come. On the invitations, put a specific time of the party to ensure no one overstays their welcome.
Of course, a lot more goes into weight management than five easy tips, but it’s a start. If you think you’ll need extra help, or someone to hold you accountable for your holiday routine, please feel free to schedule an appointment.
Caitlin Bailey, LPC, Health Consultant