This time of year is dreaded by many as this often means that along with Holiday cheer comes weight gain. Most think they gain their holiday weight between November and December, but leading research has estimated that most people gain up to 5 lbs between October and February each year. Research has found that not only do most people gain anywhere from 3 to 5 lbs every year during the Holidays, but that they on average, 1.5 lbs remains. What this essentially means is if you are 50 years old and have eaten this way since you were 20, then you would have gained 45 lbs of unnecessary weight just from excessive holiday eating. This excess weight has contributed to the extraordinary amount of child and adult obesity in America. As many of us are fully aware, obesity may contribute to many serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
The reality is, there are several factors that contribute to a person gaining or losing weight, in this case it is mainly the level of hunger and the level of activity. What that essentially means is the lack of portion control and the lack of knowledge of what you eat will be a determining factor on whether or not you gain or lose weight, along with the amount and type of exercise you are getting. Get up and walk at your lunch break or take the stairs instead of the elevator. These types of activities are going to get you to your goal faster. Here are some tips for how you can maintain your weight over the course of the upcoming winter months:
· Meal-focused celebrations - During this time of year, it seems friends and family are sending invites every week or more for a new celebration. Whether its Holiday related, birthday, or just a social event. What’s a celebration without food right? Well, at an event that you can’t control the menu you CAN control the portion. At an event in which you get to bring a dish – opt for something you can eat, knowing you will have something to fall back on. You can also pack a protein bar (see my blog on healthy bar options under "nutrition tips") in your purse, in your wife/girlfriend's purse or in your car for a snack that will help keep you full and satisfied. Another useful tip is to wear tight fitting pants because when the pants start feeling snug you know it’s definitely time to stop.
· I got the blues eating - Winter time usually brings dreary weather, which in turn can make us feel “bummed out”. This feeling can cause people to crave comfort foods, which are high calorie snack foods or homemade desserts your grandmother used to make. Help yourself this season by making sure to have healthy snacks available at home and when you're out and about. Taking Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fish oils can also help with seasonal depression.
· Holiday Madness - Stress and emotional eating can cause people to overeat and make unwise choices. Try having healthy alternatives like fruits, vegetables, Greek yogurts, cheese sticks and protein bars for snacks.
· Immune system fatigue - As you can imagine, the holidays cause exhaustion and stress on the body. What people don’t realize is how it affects the immune system and how that affects your weight. When winter rolls around and your immune system is compromised then you are more likely to get colds and viruses during the times you are less active. Activity is one of the two ways that determines whether a person gains or loses during the holidays. So Take your vitamins, make time for exercise and use hand sanitizers to protect yourself against getting sick.
· Changing channels on the remote is not exercise - Staying active during the winter months is important. If possible try to exercise for at least 30 minutes at a time and for at least five days of the week. Since the number one reason people don’t exercise is time restraints then do everything you can to fit it inside your day-to-day routine. Examples of these are parking your car in the last parking spot so you have to walk a little further to the office, or instead of taking the full hour for lunch just take 30 minutes and walk around your building for the other 30 minutes.
Everyone has 5 or 10 minutes, right?
When you are at home in the early morning or when you get home from work, do 20 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, and 30 jumping jacks for 5 or 10 minutes straight. Go at your own pace and strive to go through the rotation as many times as possible. Have fun with it and keep track of how many times you can do this in the 5 or 10 minutes you allow yourself. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll get!
These tips may seem hard to develop as habits at first, but you have to look at your options. You either keep moving and who knows, maybe even lose a pound or two, or you can gain the unwanted pounds each and every year - it's your choice!
This Holiday Season make the choice to be stronger, healthier, and most importantly, happier. Choose to prevent weight gain and be the person you want to be!