How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holiday season is well under way; a time of celebrating with friends and family as well as a time of abundance. With all of the social functions, high fat & sugary treats, holiday cheer (also known as alcoholic beverages or sugary punch), time spent shopping, decorating, sending greeting cards, and perhaps traveling, this time of year can also be very stressful.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the festive season and avoid holiday weight gain (most Americans gain a pound during the season, but never lose it) and still enjoy this special time of year:

Plan Ahead and Stick To Your Plan

Try to identify potential problem areas in advance and have a strategy for dealing with them. If you know you have a weakness for Aunt Helen’s fabulous fudge, perhaps decide in advance that you will limit yourself to one piece. If you’re going to be traveling and staying at a relative’s house and can’t get to the gym, ask your trainer to design a workout using only body weight exercises that you can do anywhere, or plan on walks to see some of the local sites in the area where you’ll be staying.

It is important to enjoy your holiday gatherings, so allow yourself some slack and don’t expect perfection. You will have a greater chance of sticking to your plan if you choose one or two areas to focus on and do them well rather than trying to do everything.

Maintain Your Routine

Since the holidays can be hectic, you will be more likely to control calories if you maintain your regular meal times, sleep schedule, and workout routine as much as possible. Many people skimp at breakfast and lunch so that they can “save” their calories for  the next party, only to binge later in the day. If you go to the party starving, you will probably end up overeating high calorie junk food and then repeating the skimping pattern the next day to “make up” for it.

Many people feel crunched for time during this time of year, so doing shorter and more efficient workout routines can burn off calories and well as help manage stress. If you are traveling, you can still do body weight exercises that don’t require any equipment and can be done in just a few minutes. Three different body weight workout routines for different abilities are available here. Even if your workout is abbreviated, doing something will always be better than doing nothing when it comes to exercise!

Avoid Overindulging

Rather than sampling every single offering at the table, be selective with your choices. Scan the table before adding anything to your plate, then perhaps stick with only one dessert while filling up on healthier options. Beverages also pack in a lot of calories, so choosing sparkling water or sugar free soda rather than alcoholic or sugary drinks can save a lot of empty calories. Using a smaller plate can help you manage portion sizes. If you are hosting a party yourself, offer healthier treats instead of (or at least  in addition to) the high fat, high sugar goodies.

Enjoy the Holidays

The holiday season will be more enjoyable if you can minimize stress. Since stress is a common contributor to overeating, finding strategies for managing it will help you avoid gaining weight. Planning ahead can identify trouble spots as well as help you set priorities and organize your time. Simplify by doing the things that are most important to you and your family and let go of some of the more mundane tasks. Make time for yourself by relaxing, doing something fun, and connecting with people. Like most things in life, moderation is the key.

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Holiday Season!