By Cassy Scott & Elizabeth Holmes
Mission Weight Management
The average American gains 5-10 pounds during the holiday season and often ends up keeping the weight on permanently.
Here are some ways to stay healthy, help keep the pounds off and reverse weight gain and still enjoy the holiday season. It’s a holi-day, not a holi-month, so use these tools to keep your healthy lifestyle in check.
- Begin practicing portion control before holiday events. This can help keep the portion size in perspective when you are away from your measuring tools.
- Eat a small snack before going to holiday parties, and eat a healthy breakfast the day of the holiday. This can help prevent you going to the event overly hungry and overeating.
- Preview the buffet before you begin putting food on your plate. Select foods that are specific to the holidays and that you may not get the rest of the year.
- Schedule exercise in your week. Try targeting morning exercise to minimize last minute plans interfering with your planned activity.
- Keep sneakers and activity attire in your car for spontaneous exercise opportunities. If you are prepared when driving by your gym or the park, it minimizes a barrier to exercise.
Limit your social calendar
- Limiting the number of social events we go to through the holidays can help decrease food exposures. Try prioritizing 1-2 holiday parties this season rather than trying to go to every one you are invited to. It could be helpful to avoid the gatherings that are food focused.
- Have healthy food options available for guests and try to host activity-focused events if you are involved in the holiday party planning.
- Consistent exercise can help avoid weight gain with increased caloric intake.
- Keep your activity plan simple through the holidays. It may seem overwhelming to begin a new exercise routine with the increased busyness of the holiday season.
- Some activity is better than none. You can accumulate 10-minute bouts of brisk activity throughout the day and receive health and fitness benefits.
- Regular exercise can be a great stress management tool and can help reduce emotional eating. If you are beginning to feel stressed or overwhelmed, it is socially acceptable to remove yourself from a situation for a short walk or breathing break.
- Make activity a group effort. Try signing up for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day or plan a Black Friday hike with your family and friends.
- It may be helpful to weigh yourself more frequently, maybe even daily over the next 2 months.
- Have an accountability partner such as a friend, family member or co-worker to help support each other through challenging holiday situations.
- Keep a food and/or activity log to ensure you are keeping up with your healthy behaviors.
- Do not fear mistakes but stay mindful of how you want to feel tomorrow.
- You may choose to consume foods and beverages you don’t typically choose. Try to portion these foods and if you don’t, approach your next eating occasion as an opportunity to return to healthful eating. There is no cheating, just eating.
- Plan activity such as a hike the day after a social event. Thinking of how you want to feel the next day for your outing can help with food and drink choices.
- If you do experience weight gain, return to a meal and activity plan that has worked for you in the past.
- Take action. If you see your weight is increasing, take action before the weight gain seems psychologically more difficult to reverse.
Cassy Scott is an exercise specialist with Mission Weight Management; Elizabeth Holmes is a registered dietitian with Mission Weight Management.