20 Nov Avoiding the Holiday Weight Gain – Here’s How
Holidays are an exciting and anticipated season, but can be a stressful time of year. With holiday parties, family in town, and getting everything to fall perfectly in place, it can be easy to fall out of your usually-healthy routine. You might have heard the statistic that the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the holiday season. The good news is that the average is actually closer to 1-2 pounds. Bear in mind, averages don’t cover everyone. Remember the bell curve from math class?? Some people gain more than 1-2 pounds and some lose weight. Either way, it’s not ideal to completely throw off yourself off the healthy bandwagon. So… What can you do to feel and look your best during the holiday season but still enjoy it?
Set a goal / expectation.
Choose your goal for the season. Are you currently in a fat loss phase and doing really well? Is your goal to maintain your current fitness and aesthetic? Or are looking to fill out a little bit? Yours is the only opinion that matters when it comes to your health and fitness goals, and that includes your choices in nutrition exercise. Regardless, having a goal will make navigating the holiday season less complex.
Do a nutrition check in.
Consider tracking your calories daily or once a week to make sure you are in eating in line with your goal. If you choose to track daily, you must have a good relationship with food and remember that you’re tracking data and numbers, not self-worth. Occasional tracking is beneficial when you have a party (I’m not talking about Thanksgiving Day unless you are training for a Fitness competition). Write down the food and drinks you plan on eating at the party so you can your breakfast and lunch accordingly. The intuitive eating approach is to eat high volume foods such as lean protein and veggies so you have more calories for that evening’s event.
Do not get into the all or nothing mindset.
“I’m not going to spend money on a fitness class or my personal training sessions because I’m going to enjoy eating. I’m going to gain weight anyways so there’s no point in wasting my money on a workout that’s not doing its point.” NO! NO! NO! You should not stop your usual workout routine. You will gain weight if you stop working out and are eating the same amount of calories because…Energy Balance! Without your usual workout you are no longer expending those 350-500 calories and you are now in a calorie surplus = weight gain.
Set your environment to match your goals.
If your goal is to maintain your weight, and you don’t want to eat indulgent treats then don’t buy the cute red and green wrapped chocolates. Willpower is a finicky thing and do not expect to rely on willpower to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle. You have to create the situations and settings in which you can succeed. That means stick with your trainer or spin class, not to burn off the calories you’ve eaten, but to maintain the lifestyle you’ve built for yourself.
Set upper and lower limits.
Give yourself boundaries to maintain your sanity to have time to enjoy the holidays. For example, upper limits could be:
- I will only schedule 2 holiday functions per week.
- I will not spend more than $____ on gifts this year.
- I will not have more than 2 drinks at the holiday party.
- I will enjoy 1 serving of my favorite treat and not feel guilty.
Lower limits are just as important. Think of these as what you do to make sure you are your best version of you. For example,
- I will workout 4 days each week.
- I will have a massive salad for lunch every day.
- I will sleep 7-8 hours each night.
- I will cook at home at least 1 night each week.
Limits will keep you organized without getting overwhelmed. Write them down as you would a to do list and check them off to keep yourself accountable.
Keep a gratitude log.
Putting your health as a priority during the holidays isn’t just about eating healthy and working out – it’s about prioritizing your mental health as well. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can lead to exhaustion and overwhelm. To keep your heart, mind and spirit focused on the right things, I suggest keeping a gratitude log. We are all incredibly lucky with the opportunities we have been granted, people we’ve met, experiences that have and will take place, and the personal belongings we own. Each night, before falling asleep, write down 5 things you are grateful for. The list should be different each night. Watch how it affects how you enjoy the season and how your mindset changes.
During the holidays, there’s a myriad of fun to be had and to do’s to be done. Making your health a priority during this season will keep you refreshed and replenished and ready to start your new year on the right foot. Plus, it means that in a season of giving, you’re also giving back to yourself. Join me this year is adding these little practices to make your holidays a bit healthier.