While you may feel as though you grow two sizes over the holidays every year, the average American adult will gain only one pound over Thanksgiving and Christmas. This doesn’t sound like much, but it adds to the weight you gained over your birthday weekend and Halloween. Over time, all the extra pounds add up. The following tips can prevent you from gaining weight or help you lose it during the holidays.
1. Drink More Water
Even if it’s a few weeks out from the beginning of holidays, you can get a head start on your holiday weight loss by staying hydrated. Hydration is vital for just about every bodily function.
You need water in order to burn fat stored in your body and from the foods you eat. In addition, water helps your muscles and organs function optimally to facilitate your exercise and daily activities. Staying hydrated also keeps stress hormones level, supporting adequate digestion and waste elimination. In other words, if you’re hydrated, your body will deal better with a bit of overindulgence. Remember to drink even more water if you’re celebrating with alcoholic beverages.
2. Dilute Your Drinks
It’s hard to wean off calorie-laden holiday beverages. If you crave sugary or alcoholic beverages, dilute them with seltzer. This will help you manage the craving without dumping empty calories into your system.
3. Eat Abundantly
The post-holiday blues are real. As the holiday adrenaline wears off, you fall into a slump. Keeping your hands away from food during this time can make you feel further deprived.
It sounds counterintuitive to eat abundantly when you’re trying to lose weight. However, if you focus on consuming primarily fresh produce, you’ll keep up the psychological satisfaction without increasing your calorie load dramatically. Furthermore, all of the nutrients will optimize your bodily functions, including your metabolism and digestion.
Holiday stress contributes to weight gain. If you use food to cope with stress, your brain doesn’t get the memo that you just ate while you’re in fight-or-flight mode. Therefore, you may feel the need to snack constantly. Plus, stress hormones increase cravings for fatty and sugary foods.
For that reason, finding ways to relax during this time is essential. Sometimes, the only break from holiday exhaustion happens when you’re sleeping. Encourage high-quality sleep by following a regular bedtime routine, avoiding sleep disruptors, and prioritizing healthy rest.
5. Stay Active
It can be hard to find time for exercise during the holidays. But if you don’t maintain your momentum, getting back to the gym in January may feel daunting. Work movement into your daily routine if you don’t have extra time for a workout. Try using your computer at a standing desk or taking a walk with a coworker on your lunch break. Take guests on a walking tour of your town after a feast, or try parking a little further than usual from your gift shops to get in those extra steps. Even a 5-minute workout every day can help you maintain your muscle memory so that you’re more confident resuming your routine after the holidays.
6. Make Healthy Choices Your Goal
How many times have you abandoned your diet after making one unhealthy choice? You had a brownie after lunch so you might as well have ice cream for dinner. This mentality keeps you in the cycle of failure, and regret is not a strong motivator.
Instead of shaming yourself for poor decisions, try rewarding yourself for the good ones. Set a goal to complete a specific number of healthy activities each day. This could involve swapping a treat for a healthy snack, going to bed on time, or exercising for five minutes. Add more activities if you’re consistently meeting your goal.
These small but consistent achievements will help you feel more confident and motivated throughout the day. As you make more healthy choices, you’ll be inspired to keep up the excellent work.
7. Wrap Your Food
If sandwiches and burgers are your thing, then you’re loading your calorie count with bread. Cut out 200 to 300 calories by wrapping your food in lettuce, kale, or steamed collard greens instead of a bun. It will be just as satisfying because you could still add all the condiments and eat them with your hands.
8. Make Yourself Convenience Foods
Lack of time and competing priorities are proven barriers to healthy eating. Make yourself a batch of something that you can split into single portions so that you can grab it and go when you’re in a hurry. Combining a carb, protein, and two cooked vegetables in a storage container before drizzling it all with a homemade dressing is an easy way to prepare a convenient meal. You can use leftovers and swap out the greens for variety. Add sprouts or a handful of nuts for texture and added nutrition.
9. Include Strength Training in Your Routine
Don’t skimp on lifting weights and doing exercises with high resistance. Although it doesn’t burn calories as quickly as cardio, strength training builds and maintains your muscle mass. This will speed up your metabolism in the long run, which means that you might not gain as much weight next holiday season.
10. Look at the Big Picture
You may have to transition to a larger pants size after the holidays, but that’s not necessarily because we’ve gained fat. The bloating might come from consuming excess sugar and holding onto water weight. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to button your pants as you practice healthier habits.
Don’t be tempted to try a crash diet just because you feel puffy after the holidays. Extreme calorie restrictions and diet trends don’t often generate permanent weight loss. Instead, be patient and focus on setting up practices that allow your wellness goals to stick.
The extra pounds go on quickly, but it takes effort to lose them. Even if the pounds drop off, you need to maintain the right mindset to keep them off. Weight cycling increases the likelihood of future weight gain and elevates your risk of obesity.
Therefore, the most effective steps for reducing holiday weight involve making lifestyle changes. When healthy living is a habit, you won’t be derailed by weight gain every holiday season. Stay tuned to Top Doctor Magazine for more!