With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other major Holidays just around the corner, many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends while indulging in the wonderful delicacies that only come once a year. What most of us aren’t looking forward to is the associated weight gain and deconditioning that comes with it. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, most people will gain between 1 – 2lbs. This number, although small, is deceiving in nature and has larger implications than you may think. Most Holiday weight gains start a “snowball effect,” leading to increased weight gain overtime. Studies have shown that holiday weight gain is normally not lost over the course of the year, and over time can result in 10- 20lb gains in just a few years! With our long winters here in the Hudson Valley only getting longer and colder, we are challenged not only in our diet, but our ability to exercise outside or make it safely to a gym while traveling in snowy or icy conditions. Here are 10 tips to stay fit and avoid weight gain through the Holidays and the long Winter Season:
1. Limit Tastes While Cooking and Baking
If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, watch how much you are “tasting” your food during the process. Tasting and eating your food during the preparation process can lead to multiple calories added to your daily diet before you even sit down to eat! Just put a spoon in and taste a small amount. With tried-and-true recipes, ignore the tasting all together.
2. Use the Mall for Fitness… Not Just Shopping
Can’t get to the Gym with all the shopping you need to finish for the Holidays? Use the Mall to your advantage… WALK! Walk the mall to get in some exercise while browsing and shopping. You can even park your car farther from the stores and malls to get in more exercise instead of fighting for that parking spot in front of the entrance!
3. Use Smaller Plates at Your Holiday Gatherings
Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and a larger plate at Thanksgiving can lead to stacking of massive serving sizes of our favorite foods. Use smaller plates so that it will force you and your family to be aware of both the sizes and the amounts of food that they are eating.
4. Exercise Doesn’t Require Weights… Just Your Body
Can’t get to the Gym? Don’t have weights to workout at home? That’s OK… you don’t need weights to build muscle and get a good workout. All you need is your body and a some floor room to get your muscles pumping and get your heartrate up. Functional exercises like squats, push-ups, bridges, and jumping jacks can make even the biggest weight lifters fatigue with exhaustion.
5. Go To Holiday Parties To Socialize… Not Eat
Enjoy your friends and family during the Holidays. This should be done through socializing, talking, and even dancing. Don’t focus on just the food and drink at these holiday gatherings… spend these quality moments with the people that mean the most to you.
6. Schedule Holiday Activities with Family and Friends
Spending time with family and friends doesn’t just have to revolve around eating and drinking. Schedule Holiday Activities such as ice skating, skiing, sledding, and even building snowmen in the snow. These all are forms of exercise, but also allow you to spend quality time with friends and family. Try not to separate exercise and family time – combine them both to keep you healthy through the season.
7. Drink Water
Drinking water throughout the day should not just be isolated to the Holiday season, it should be part of your daily routine. When we talk about the Holidays, drinking water before and during meals helps you feel full. This will decrease the amount of food you will consume at the Holiday parties.
8. Watch TV
Yes. You can watch TV and stay fit during the Holiday season. Pop in an exercise/fitness DVD and commit to 30-45 mintues of exercise. Most blue ray players and Smart TVs now have access to Youtube. Youtube does offer many exercise channels that target in-home exercise routines that require no equipment, just a floor mat and some dedication.
9. Bring Your Own Platter or Dessert to the Party
You may not control what foods you will see at a Holiday Party, but you can control what foods you bring to the party. Bringing a homemade dish or dessert that is low-calorie and that you will enjoy is an alternative to some of the heavier dishes available. Don’t get stuck on sweets during the holiday- people enjoy fruits and salads at parties as well!
10. Find a Fitness Buddy
Sometimes working with a partner can help keep you motivated, maintain a consistent exercise routine, and find other methods of exercise. Find a friend or family member you can “Buddy” with this holiday season to keep you healthy and active while having some fun.