Hold The Eggnog! How to Stave Off Weight Gain This Holiday Season

 

With Thanksgiving now behind us, we are entering that chaotic span of the year we lovingly call “the holidays.” In America, this is a time period that condones gluttony and excess in every sense, from financial to caloric. Belt buckles, purse strings and wallets loosen up to the tune of 50-year-old Christmas anthems, piped into our malls and homes, and with so much going on between shopping, traveling, catching up with loved ones, and more shopping, it’s pretty darn easy to overindulge.

The reasons we tend to put on 5, 10, or even 20 pounds over the holiday season isn’t secret or magical, and the only ways you’ll gain weight are the same old ways you’d gain weight any other time of the year. You have to manage and control your food choices and get active, or suffer the body-expanding consequences.

Make time for activity

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the first resource that tends to dwindle is time, and thus the first activity we slice out of our schedules is exercise. The winter months naturally make us more lethargic, and this coupled with the fact that swimsuit season feels a lifetime away makes it easy to shirk the hard work our bodies need and deserve.

Even if you’re away visiting relatives who live nowhere near your gym, you can still get your heart rate up through simple bodyweight exercises. Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and simple bodyweight squats are some of my favorite go-to moves. Even if these aren’t part of your regular workout, guess what? Your body thrives off of variation – use this mix-up as a chance to surprise your body into doing something new. If you’re a regular listener, you’ve also probably heard of my golden “4 mile” walking exercise.

If you’re away visiting family (or family is visiting you), walking could be a great way to get them physically engaged, too. Bundle up and go for a walk around the neighborhood or a local park. And if your day is simply jam-packed with activities, consider going to bed a little early and getting up before the day starts to get your blood pumping nice and early. I find it easy to hit the hay in the early evening this time of year with the days as short as they are, and there’s nothing that gets your day kick-started quite like a morning workout.

Limit the crap intake

Holiday parties are mine fields of treat traps. Forget about boughs of holly… pies, cakes, desserts, comfort foods and alcohol are the real things that deck the halls this time of year. Research also shows us that we have a herd mentality when it comes to eating – the more people we’re around, the larger our portion sizes seem to get. So when we feast with family and friends, self-control gets pushed to the wayside.

Plan for the inner conflict before you even get to the party. Personally, I like to eat a small meal before I arrive so I can control exactly what I’m putting into my body. I also take mobile snacks to my parties if I don’t know if I’ll have any edible options once I get there. Remember, you’re there to catch up and enjoy being with those you love, not to gorge. Become close buddies with the fruit and veggie platter as well – it will be your best ally!

If your extended family and friends aren’t privy to your healthy eating habits, you’ll undoubtedly face some friction. “Just one piece, it’s to die for!” Aunt Janice will say. “What’s a party without wine!” you can already hear your brother-in-law lamenting.

Expect this social pressure and don’t see it as confrontational. They’re only insisting because they want you to join in the consumable festivities and have a good time; they aren’t consciously sabotaging your progress, I promise! Be firm and friendly. There’s nothing impolite about having self-control. If your family is anything like mine, any fuss they will put up will be forgotten in 60 seconds anyway.

When it comes down to it, you’ll have to be your own advocate. Call me crazy, but with a little planning and a healthy dose of tenacity, I think you’ll get through this yet. Think how great you’ll feel when January rolls around and you power into 2015 feeling (and looking) awesome!!

Dr. Dave

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