Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with These Diet and Exercise Tips

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It’s November and fall is officially here, so you know what that means. Have you seen the commercials? No, I don’t mean the ones for the latest toys or hottest sales at the mall. I’m talking about Bowflex, Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers. The dreaded battle of the bulge is among us. Every year you promise yourself to watch what you eat and add more exercise to your routine. During the holidays, it’s very easy to slip up on your healthy eating plan and enjoy some extra little goodies. How much can that really hurt? Well, read on to find out the truth.

Let’s take a step back and look at how a little cheat meal here and there adds up. First, there are the catered lunches at work. It seems like every day someone is bringing in cake, cookies, and some sort of sweet delicious morsels to make your waistline explode. Then the company holiday dinners and parties come around soon after that. It is not just the filling food but also the copious amounts of alcohol at all of these fun gatherings that can do damage. It’s very rare that people actually stop at eating or drinking just one of “anything” at those types of social gatherings. But it just doesn’t end there does it?

We can’t forget the family dinners as well as little get-togethers with our friends. More food, more alcohol, more weight gain. Before you know it, January is here and we are right back where we started. Two months of parties and dinners unraveled all of the hard work you accomplished. However, this year CAN be different. Try implementing these diet and exercise tips and see if they can help you avoid gaining weight during the holidays!

Start Your Day with a Workout
You might find that you will move more the rest of the day and be tempted less when you see delicious high calorie food compared to the days when you skip a morning workout. The reward is fewer cravings for high-fat goodies. On a personal note, I find morning workouts kick-start my metabolism. I know it’s hard but once you’re up, the rest will be easy.

avoid-holiday-weight-gain-workouts

Eat Before Attending Your Event
Before heading out to your event, eat an apple or make yourself a protein shake. By filling up with good nutrition, you will be less likely to eat (or drink) the high calorie items at the table. Be picky about what you select from the buffet. Only pick what you KNOW you will eat. As far as alcohol is concerned, there’s a bunch of empty calories in those drinks. I won’t recommend which drink is better because quite frankly I don’t feel comfortable in doing that. What I can recommend is maybe some sparkling flavored water or club soda. You’re still celebrating with something bubbly, it’s just a little different and much cleaner for your diet.

Just Say “NO”
This is where it gets sticky. Think about all of the hours invested at the gym along with all the money spent on new “smaller” clothes. Now, with that in your head, is that one cupcake worth it? Be honest with yourself. Don’t forget about the other 2 cupcakes you ate earlier in the week. Remember, willpower is like a muscle. The more you say “No” the stronger you will become.

Avoid Banking Calories
Basically, this is when you barely eat all day to later pig out at the holiday shindig. Think about it. You will be starving by the time you get there and once your eyes hit that dinner table, the temptation to binge eat will be unstoppable. Be smart and be sure to eat your three square meals during the day. Aim for lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein.

avoid-holiday-weight-gain-cheat-meals

Chew Slowly
This sounds crazy but while dining out it is so easy to throw a bunch of food in your mouth and not even pay attention to the amount you’re eating. Avoid taking big handfuls of food and devouring it over and over until you realize you’ve scarfed down a whole plate of high fat, high sugar foods with a bunch of empty calories.

Keep Calm
The holidays are a stressful time of year. Between shopping, family gatherings, and such it is easy to skip meals. Your cortisol levels rise when this happens which causes weight gain. Stress also leaves your body susceptible to colds and other illnesses. Combat high cortisol levels with vitamin C. Drink chamomile or peppermint tea to keep you relaxed. Lavender tea along with chamomile tea will help you sleep as well.

Keep a Journal
Keeping a food diary is the single best way to keep the pounds off. Do a mental rundown once or twice a day. Cocktail parties, in particular, lend themselves to mindless eating.

You May Want To Put That Spoon Down
Cook and bake to your heart’s content, but resist the temptation of licking the spoon. That little bit of yummy goodness can cost you extra calories that you weren’t even thinking about. How bad can it be? How about 300 calories a pop? Yeah, I didn’t like the sound of that either!

avoid-holiday-weight-gain-calories

Extra Exercise Doesn’t Mean Double Portions
Eliminate the rationalization of eating extra helpings of bad foods just because you put in extra work at the gym. All that will lead to is overtraining and weight gain. How? Chances are you will miscalculate what’s necessary as far as calories consumed versus calories burned.

Something else that occurs during this time of the year is shopping. What does shopping have to do with weight gain? Chances are most of you will skip meals during countless trips of hopping from store to store. Before you know it, hours have gone by without eating anything. Feelings of nausea, dizziness and sometimes fainting can occur because the body is underfed. I hear countless stories from my clients. They all say the same thing. They skipped breakfast to catch the early bird sales. If that wasn’t bad enough they eat whatever is convenient to them. At the mall, it’s a quick hot dog or pretzel, maybe just a coffee. Whatever it is, it’s usually unhealthy. Do you want to know what to eat and what items to pack so you can stay on track with your healthy nutrition plan?

Apples or Pears
Fiber content will help you stay fuller, longer. It is fruit so there is sugar but it’s natural so it won’t be too bad.

Packets of Tuna or Hard Boiled Eggs
This is your source of protein on the go. If you are eating tuna packets, be sure to drink a lot of water to flush out the sodium. Hard boiled eggs are the best. Just make sure to peel the shell off before taking them with you. If you can’t then be sure you are somewhere close to dump the shells off.

avoid-holiday-weight-gain-eggs

Bottled water
Hydration is key, especially if you are going to be out and about for long periods of time. Drinking coffee or chugging down energy drinks might give you a boost but the extra sugar and caffeine won’t help either.

Meal Replacement Shakes
There are so many out there to choose from. Some require a shaker bottle and water. Others are already pre-made. Either way, they are an excellent way to get your nutrition while on the go.

In conclusion, the holidays don’t have to be the time of the year when you fight the battle of the bulge. Instead, use some of the diet and exercise tips I have described above and enjoy your time with your family sensibly and healthy.

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About Author

Shellane Demarest

I am a fitness professional whose journey began as an overweight child. Honestly, I am glad it happened that way. As I struggled with food and inactivity, I began to research nutrition and exercise. I'm now a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and I'm certified in several Les Mills fitness programs. See my profile page for more information!

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