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6 Tips to Beat Holiday Weight Gain

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6 Tips to Beat Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday weight gain...something we all want to avoid but for most never seem to get the hang of. October marks the beginning of the "Holiday Season" with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years right around the corner. And though it's one of the most fun and exciting times of the year, for those who are looking to lose weight it can be a huge setback when it comes to progress.

Even if you don't celebrate all of the holidays, the treat availability (think pumpkin spice lattes, pies, and christmas cookies) are readily available and easy to indulge in! It can be challenging to resist, even for those who have the strongest willpower.

In fact, most people gain the 10-15 lbs that they work all year on losing in those last 6-8 weeks of the year...from Halloween to just past New Years. Around 90% of those that do manage to lose the weight through dieting gain it back the next year. The reason why is because when you take a finite approach to health and weightloss rather than a lifestyle, you’ll continuiously find yourself captive by the yo-yo effect: you gain the weight, you diet, you lose the weight, you stop dieting, you gain it back.

This yo-yo effect has detrimental consequences not only when it comes to your metabolism (have you noticed that the more times you diet the harder it is to lose the weight as you age?) but also your skeletal muscle mass. Constant dieting over time compounds on the natural muscle loss that happens as we age, resulting in things like osteoperosis and osteopenia, loss of strength and vitality.

So how do we combat the weight gain while enjoying the holidays and fostering a sustainable healthy lifestyle?

1. Define your meal

Thanksgiving and other holiday feasts are just around the corner, not to mention Halloween Parties, and if you have a big family you probably have multiple Halloween parties, Thankgivings and Christmases. Where many people go wrong is instead of picking a few definitive days and meals to indulge they start with a Haloween Candy bowl in their kitchen at the beginning of October and then continue with treats, events, and indulgences all the way through Chirstmas. A holiday is just that, a holiDAY, not a 6-8-12 week snacking and indulgence period. Pick the events where you choose to indulge and eat normally in between events. Limit your indulgence days to the ones that really matter to you, the ones that hold sentimental value and cherished family tradition, then skip out on the cookies and candies until then!

The reality is that your body is efficient, and a few days in a period of 12 weeks is not going to cause you to gain fat. You may see the scale weight shift upwards for a few days, but if you go back to eating normally you’ll see that number come back down as it was just water weight. However, if you indulge for most of those 12 weeks you’ll find yourself creating habits that WILL have an effect on your waistline.

2. Don’t eat until you’re sick

It may be tempting to go all in on the specific days and events you choose to, but eating until you 80% full will leave you feeling satisfied without over doing it. When you over eat, say to 150% full, the next day you will usually have a hard time getting back into the swing of normalcy which can cause a ripple effect as the day and weeks go by. A good way to ensure that you don’t over eat too dramatically is to eat as you normally would until your designated meal. 

3. Toss out the leftovers that aren't in lin with your goals

Most people go overboard during the holidays: they buy too much Halloween Candy and have leftovers, cook too many dishes for Thanksgiving, and bake too many cookies for Christmas. Having all that extra food that isn't in line with your goals lying around can eat away at your willpower and make it almost impossible for you to resist. A key tip to beating holiday weight gain is to toss your leftovers. For Halloween, donate the candy to a school or put it away with the Halloween decorations to be used next year (it won't go bad!). For Thanksgiving, send leftovers home with your family members, or bring them to a local homeless shelter. Some leftovers will be in line with your goals (like turkey) so definitely keep those and encorporate them as part of your meal prep! For Christmas, try making healthier alternatives to your favorite cookies, or cutting the recipe in half so that you don't have as many leftovers.

4. Know your triggers

The holidays can be a stressful time and for many who have challenges with emotional eating can truly struggle. If you know certain foods will trigger you emotionally, or getting around certain family members, you’ll need to prepare yourself prior to engaging. This will look different for different people. Perhaps it’s going into family dinner with a game plan: “I’m only going to have x amount of this,” or “This year, instead of eating x because I know it triggers me, I will eat x instead.” For family stress, it could look like preparing a response ahead of time. “So and so always brings up this, when they do I will say this...”

As they say, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

5. Don’t miss your exercise

If you normally work out three days a week, keeping working out three days a week! Don’t compromise because of a holiday. Keeping up a routine and gaining momentum during this time of year will put you lightyears ahead when it comes to reaching your goals. You can either find a way or you can find an excuse, so this year find a way. Even if it means just going for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner, or doing some stretching with the family, keep up the habits you want to keep into the New Year.

6. Keep your water intake high

Most people are dehydrated without even realizing it, and often when we think we’re hungry our bodies are acutally just telling us that we need a drink of water. Don’t allow hunger to be confused with thirst this year! A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to your urine color. Light yellow to translucent means you’re good to go...the darker it is the more you should drink!


Implement these 6 things this year and you should be able to avoid the holiday weight gain! And keep an eye out for our Ultimate Holiday Guide coming soon!

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