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Are you worried about surviving the holiday season without gaining weight?
With most people perceiving a weight gain of 5 pounds towards the end of the year, and media reporting weight gains of up to 10 pounds from Thanksgiving Day to the start of the new year, you are not alone. The good news, a prospective study on Holiday Weight gain published in 2000 found that actual weight gain over the holidays was really only 1 pound on average. The bad news, that 1 pound tends to stick around and become 2 pounds after the next year, and then 3, and then 4. Well, you get the picture, and it's not good. And weight gain doesn't even factor in that feeling of "ick" after the holidays are over that has everyone scrambling to get ready for their New Year's Resolution to get "back on track." Continue reading for a few ways to start your holidays off on the right foot and avoid having to do the dreaded New Year's resolution thing once again.
- Set goals, and share them with others. With Thanksgiving just two days away, take a moment and write your goals and the plan that will help you achieve them on a piece of paper. Better yet, tell others your goals. Once you put them out there, they become real. And when others start holding you accountable, sticking to your goals is easy. Just make sure your goals follow the guidelines of a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, result-focused, and time-bound. "I don't want to gain weight" is not a goal from which you can make a plan. Setting a goal to "workout 4 times a week every week in December" or to "Eat at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables every day for the next 30 days" are goals you can do something with
- Don't rely solely on the scale to measure your success. You can manipulate the number on a scale to fit your cause and convince yourself you are succeeding with your goals. I'm sure you've heard that muscle weighs more than fat. And scales are finicky creatures that can bounce up and down based on a number of factors that have nothing to do with real weight changes. If the scale goes up 3 pounds in a week, you may need to curb your eating habits, but you could also have been working on gaining muscle in the gym, or you could just be bloated from a meal of foods that don't quite agree with you. When used correctly, the scale can show you if you are trending in the right or wrong direction. However, we find that the good ol' mirror and how your clothes fit provides a better indicator of weight changes.
- Take before and after photos once a week. Like the mirror, a selfie won't lie. Don't trick yourself by using better lighting or filters on the photo. Like the scale, these photos are a tool that only work if used correctly. Stick with the same place in your house and the same angle for every picture. Then, you can make real comparisons about how you look with both your clothes on and off (careful with that).
- Don't treat food as the main event. Think about your best memories for the holidays. Are they about time spent with family and friends or are they about that great cake you ate in 2013? Chances are, the food takes second place to the joke your uncle told that make your dad shoot beer out of his nose. Everyone has favorite foods they look forward to, but remember that the food you eat compliments the time you spent with your loved ones. Not the other way around. Getting out of the holidays without gaining weight can sometimes come down to perspective.
- Stick to your routine. Continue to exercise, eat foods that make you feel good, get enough sleep, and enjoy being you. The body likes routine. In fact, the body thrives on routine. So go ahead and make time for family, friends, and all of the fun things that make the holidays enjoyable, but don't forget to take care of yourself too. Stressing out over the holidays is a sure fire way to pack on the pounds. So, be kind to yourself. You'll be a happier person to be around when you do.