Sunday, November 6, 2011

12 Holiday Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

Many people gain some weight during the holidays.  That's one reason why health club memberships are at their highest in the month of January.  It's not only New Year's resolutions that drive people into joining a health club.  It's those 5 - 10 pounds on their hips and bellys.  So before you waste money on a health club membership (a majority of people stop going by February), here are some tips to not gain weight in the first place.  Keep in mind that the goal (in November and December) is to stay at your current weight and not try to lose weight at this time of year.  You can resume losing weight in January when there is less temptation.     

  1. Increase your exercise routine for the next two months.  Add another 20 - 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine or add a couple of more days of exercise to your week if you are exercising 4 or less days per week.   If you currently don't exercise at all, then start exercising now and through the holidays.  Don't wait until January like everyone else after putting on weight.  Start now!  Even 1/2 hour of walking outside or on a treadmill 4 or 5 times a week will increase your metabolism and burn enough calories to keep help keep additional weight gain off.  
  2. Eat something healthy before going to a holiday party or before eating large holiday meals.  Eating a small healthy bowl of soup, a piece of fruit, steamed or raw vegetables before going to a party will curb your appetite for snacking and give you more will power to resist the irresistable.
  3. Don't drink your calories.  Stay away from most drinks especially mixed drinks and eggnog because they are extremely high in calories and sugar.   If you don't feel it's a party unless you have a drink of alcohol, limit your alcoholic beverages to either 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or club soda with a little cranberry juice.  Drinking too much will inevitably cause a bad night of sleeping, a hangover, and the inevitable chowing down of junkfood the next day.  
  4. Choose your food wisely.  Choice lower fat and lower sugar alternatives at holiday meals.  You can still enjoy yourself and not leave the table feeling like the stuffed turkey you ate.  Choose larger portions of "pure" vegetables such as mashed potatoes, green beans, and butternut squash.  Pure vegetables mean those with little additives.  They may be steamed with a little butter and salt.  Choose smaller portions of vegetables with added sugar such as cranberries sauce or yams with marshmallows and omit vegetables with many processed ingredients such as the infamous green bean casserole made with crispy french fried onion onions and cream of mushroom soup.  Choose turkey breast or vegetarian meat (if available) over dark meat or beef.  Stuffing is usually high in calories and most people eat it with gravy so omit the stuffing too or take a very small portion.  Lastly, stay away from the rolls and butter.  The stuffing and the rolls are what really tip most people into the "stuffed like a turkey" zone.         
  5. Choice one dessert at each party or dinner.  A small dish (1/2 cup) of sorbet or ice cream, or a small slice of pumpkin pie is healthier and lower in calories then pecan pie, cheese cake, cakes, or fruit pies.     
  6. Get enough sleep every night.  Being tired increases hunger for food, especially junkfood.
  7. Bring your potluck dish from the supermarket.  If you are asked to bring a dish to a potluck party, pick it up at the supermarket.  The temptation is to great if you are asked to make dishes at home, especially desserts, to make extra for yourself.
  8. Don't stand near the buffet table.  Bring humus for dipping and eat with fruits, vegetables, string cheese and a small amount of almonds instead.   It is much easier to add on the empty calories by eating chips, dip, pretzels, and breads. You will feel fuller quicker by eating high protein foods such as cheese, nuts, and humus and by eating low calorie, high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables. Stay away from the creamy dips such as ranch or sour cream as they are the highest in calories and fat.  Salsa is another good alternative besides humus.  After putting a few snacks on your plate, walk far away from the buffet table to eat them.  What you don't see won't tempt you nearly as much as what's in front of your face. 
  9. Manage stress.  Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  Look at the holidays realistically and plan accordingly.  Get your shopping done early or earlier than prior years and know that family get togethers can be stressful but will be over soon.
  10. Wear tight, but not uncomfortably tight, clothing.  By all means don't wear your baggiest pants or skirt to a party or dinner because you want to leave room to "expand" because your wish will come true.
  11. Buddy up with someone else.  Find a friend who you can talk to through the holidays when your will power is weakening.  Help keep each other on track.
  12. Weigh yourself frequently during the holidays.  Weighing yourself frequently during the holidays will help you avoid the shock of seeing 10 pounds suddenly added to your weight.  You'll be able to stop any serious weight gain by cutting back on food and/or increasing your exercise routine sooner rather than later.       

Note:  Please get approval from your doctor before starting any exercise or diet program.

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