How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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The winter holidays are quickly approaching, and we are all excited for the happiest time of the year. Everyone gathers together to celebrate the season with family, friends, fun, food, and more food. All is well, for a while, until just before New Year’s when we start to reflect on our resolutions for the upcoming year and discover that fitness or weight-loss goals top the list again.

We also come to the not-so-shocking revelation that this special holiday season has bestowed both good tidings of joy and an additional 5 to 10 pounds. Sound familiar? More than half of Americans gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and the average amount is in that range. Those who weigh in regularly can spot the trend early, but most discover it when clothing stops fitting. You might even rip a pair of pants!

There’s no shame in ripped pants. We’ve all been there. Hopefully, you were at home and not at a corporate New Year’s Eve party like my unfortunate derriere in a pair of Beyoncé jeans with rhinestones was (evidence pictured below). I knew they were suspect. A little tight is sexy, but if you’re limited to moving laterally one inch at a time, then you definitely need to change your pants. That was at least six years and 80 pounds ago. I have almost emotionally recovered now that fewer colleagues bring it up less often.

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Fortunately, you won’t have to suffer this year since I’m giving you the first gift of the season. I hope to not only help prevent ripped pants and the seemingly inevitable extra holiday pounds, but to also actually help you get ripped and start off the New Year ahead of the curve.

Disclaimer: Family and friends might get envious when they begin to notice your body’s transformation. Don’t worry! Simply invite them to join you.

Bottoms Up!
Drink water before every meal and snack. Strive for eight cups a day. Do your best; this is hard for everyone, so setting a lofty goal will push you to probably get in at least half. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times can help. To make sure you’re getting enough, monitor your urine. It should be a light yellow color, like lemonade. If it looks like water, you’re drinking too much. Drinking water decreases fluid retention and bloating around the midsection.

Eat Your Veggies
Always bring veggie trays to parties and try to fill up on veggies first at any meal. Be sure to bring veggies you like and will eat. You probably won’t be the most popular guest, but who cares? You are on a mission! When January rolls around and you are looking fit and toned, it will be all worth it. And who knows, some people may actually thank you for offering the only healthy option.

Add Protein to Every Meal or Snack
Protein is a great way to boost your metabolism with the food you eat while also making sure you feel full at the end of a meal. You can always bring a protein tray in addition to the veggie tray you’ve already prepared. Go for seafood or lean poultry first. Chilled shrimp trays are always a great place to start, and grilled skinless chicken skewers are nice as well. Adding protein puts you back on top. Vegetarian or vegan? No worries. Edamame, nuts, seeds and hummus platters are high in protein and equally delicious.

Small Plates Aren’t Just for Tapas
Use small plates for every meal and appetizer, not medium! Doing so will make your plate seem full faster and slows down your eating so that you stop when you actually feel full.

Have a Zero Second Plate Policy
Setting the rule in advance makes you less likely to indulge in the moment. That also means no thirds!

Get Your Walk On
Walking after dinner for at least 30 minutes helps with digestion while also keeping your blood sugar in line. That’s because the exercise helps to keep things moving while also sensitizing your body to insulin. You can substitute any aerobic activity. Wii Sports and Xbox Kinect work too!

Sweat Before You Eat
Doing a quick, intense workout before a meal can get your metabolism revved. Try working up to 25 pushups, jumping jacks or burpees before each meal, or do them all if you want a challenge. These full-body exercises will get your heart racing and get you a complete workout in a short amount of time.

Sweat After Dessert
After using your small plates to moderate dessert and giving yourself some time to digest, try doing the same workout you did premeal.

Drop It Like It’s Hot
Squats hit almost all the muscles in your legs, which also happen to be some of the largest muscles in your body. Perform 25 a day, but try not to go too low if it hurts your knees. You can do them all at once or space them out throughout the day whenever you have a few seconds free.

The Scale Really Is Your BFF
Try to weigh in every morning. This is very controversial, but you need some form of accountability. Always keep in mind that you will have daily fluctuations due to a variety of factors that might cause you to gain or lose weight on any given morning. Your weight that day isn’t important. Instead, you want to look at the trend over time in spite of the blips in one direction or another. Write your numbers down and try to see if on the whole you’re losing or gaining. Adjust the prior steps as needed.

Follow my tips and you’ll be on your way to a ripped and healthy holiday season. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon once or twice. Dust yourself off and get right back up. The key is to be mindful of your eating and to get your body moving every day. Remember, when all else fails, wear a dress!