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Is a holiday weight gain inevitable?
December 1, 2011 - Taste Buds
Well folks, we're already knee deep in the biggest "eating season" of the year. Starting with the chocolatey, candy treats of Halloween through the heavy-duty stuffing of ourselves at Thanksgiving and ending with the cookies and spirits popular for Christmas and New Years Eve, there are more than enough opportunities to gorge ourselves this time of year. While it's sort of funny to joke about sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner wearing your "eatin' pants", the sad reality is that there is some truth behind Americans gaining weight over the holidays.
While we've heard some pretty scary numbers (like a 7 pound average weight gain), you can take a breath of relief. Apparently the majority of Americans only gain about one pound of extra weight over the holidays (according to a recent article in FYI: http://www.fyiliving.com/diet/how-much-weight-do-people-gain-during-the-holiday-season/). Yippee! Right? Well, evidently, the real problem is that it's difficult for people to lose this extra pound, and over the years, these pounds can add up. See the trend here?
And even though the average is a pound, probably a lot of you reading this might feel like you gain more. We've all dealt with the unpleasant feeling of too-tight pants, and many of us, halfway through the holiday season, might just give up on trying to stay at a steady weight thinking, "Well, I've already ruined it anyway." In reality, you might think it's worse in your head than what it really is and as a result, you can end up doing even more damage.
So is gaining weight over the holidays inevitable? Absolutely not!
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to adjust your mind set. Whether you want to maintain your current weight or tell yourself it's ok if you only gain a pound or two, make sure you focus on this goal and remind yourself of it each day. Once you've covered the mental aspect, you can move on to the physical aspect.
A great idea, one that Bud Shaunna plans to employ this month, is to map out the month of December and mark down all the days there's a party or an event that will probably revolve around food. Once you've got those days laid out, notice that there are probably more days where there is nothing going on than days with an event. Just plan to stick to your regular diet on the non-event days without overindulging. And as far as your "regular diet" goes, this should include lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables (and it doesn't count if these are candied or slathered with cheese!) and plenty of water.
You should also try to maintain your regular workout schedule. Yes, we understand that you usually have a lot more on your schedule this time of year, but even if you can take 30 minutes for yourself to take a walk or pop in an exercise video, it will make a huge difference in maintaining your weight. And if you don't have time to exercise? Park in the back of the parking lot at the mall, take the stairs, do sit ups during commercials if you're watching TV....there are a number of things you can do to burn a few extra calories!
Finally, don't deprive yourself! It's just not going to be possible to avoid every cookie, every turkey or every glass of wine. Therefore, just exercise portion control and enjoy your favorites in moderation. A great tip is to choose foods you only get to enjoy seasonally instead of things you can eat anytime. And make sure what you're eating tastes good! If you put it on your plate and don't like it, don't eat it!
The most important thing to remember is that the focus of the season should be on family, friends and togetherness, not food. Enjoy yourselves and each other, and we're sure you'll have very happy, very memorable holiday season!
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