A depressing holiday statistic: the average person gains 6-10 pounds between Halloween and New Year. Before you crawl back under the covers, let me assure you that you can make it to January without sabotaging your waistline. There is no magic bullet, you have to have determination. Here are some holiday weight loss tips.Have a plan to avoid holiday weight gainWe seldom overeat on purpose, we do it spontaneously. Having a plan of action, a budget, will stop those “impulse buys” of pecan pie. It can be hard to make a good decision in the heat of the moment. Standing at the buffet table, balancing a cocktail, is the wrong time to try and calculate how many calories you have already eaten. Does an alcoholic wait until he is at the bar to decide what to drink? No, that decision is made every day when he wakes up. You have to find that kind of resolve IF avoiding holiday weight gain is important to you.When you come across a great deal on new cycling shorts, you don’t mind spending the money if you are sure you have more in the bank, right? Same with your weight. Maybe the best plan plan for not gaining weight during the holidays is to lose weight before the holidays. Start the holiday season a few pounds lighter to give yourself cushion for a possible holiday weight gain. What I’m doing right now is a 10-day strict, “eating clean” plan. I hesitate to give out details as it may not be for everybody but if you contact me I’ll share my strategy. I plan to be 5 pounds lighter by Thanksgiving. After a killer 3 week hike in Olympic National Park in September I came home and ate like there was no tomorrow during October. Yes, we all slip up. I know I need to nip it in the bud before the holiday season. Do you need to do the same? Creating a 10-day plan and feeling your jeans be a bit looser, can be a great motivator to prevent holiday weight gain.Work it outMomentum is also a wonderful motivator. Once you set something in motion, it is much easier to keep it in motion. Working out is like that. Today, before the holiday season gets in full swing – commit to your exercise routine. Get your calendar out and write down your workout appointments for the next 8 weeks. Identify which days you will run/ walk, which days are gym days, which days are rest days.
Find a friend to commit to the workouts with you. Make a plan to first workout then do your holiday shopping together. Find 5 friends and make this your annual ‘what we do together to escape the crazy holiday season schedule’ get together.Do your best to do the workout in the morning. Studies show that morning exercisers tend to actually work out more days, even more so at this time of year. If you hate the idea, tell yourself it isn’t forever, only until January 2nd. Picture yourself getting ready to go out New Year’s Eve. You have your choice of what to wear because none of your clothes are too tight.Tonight before you go to bed, take 5 minutes to get your running gear out. Or put the DVD in the player, move the couch out of the way, fill up the water bottle. Give your subconscious mind the clues it needs to get you out of bed tomorrow. You’ll be surprised how well this works.How will I handle my workouts and healthy eating with all the travel I am doing?Traveling can put a dent in the most committed exerciser’s plans. You have to plan ahead. You have to plan for both healthy eating and working out. Are you flying to your destination? I never get on a plane without food these days. I bring sandwiches from home in my Tupperware sandwich containers. (the containers keep the sandwiches from getting smushed) Pack trail mix that you made yourself: walnuts, almonds, raisins, MMs. I have a recipe for energy bars and always bring a couple of those as well. On your way to your relative’s house, stop at the grocery store. Bring your oatmeal, fruit, healthy munchies.If you are driving, you are in luck. Pack a cooler so you aren’t tempted by fast food. Better yet, stop at a rest area to eat and walk around for 10 minutes. Yes you will arrive later but you will be happier. You see this is not rocket science, it just takes determination.Find a gym near your parent’s house that offers one day passes. Bring your running / walking gear. Heading out for a workout or run on your own gives you the space you need when spending time in close quarters with lots of people. (especially helpful if you are at the in-laws). Sign up for a New Years Day resolution run. You can tell the family you are training, have already paid the entry fee and have to stay on your training schedule.How do I handle parties and my Aunt Edna’s pecan pie?Parties and family gatherings are often mine fields of temptation for someone trying to avoid gaining weight over the holidays. First rule? Don’t starve yourself all day. Folks, this approach simply doesn’t work. First, by not eating all day, your body is in a “fasting metabolic state”. In other words, it is conserving energy (your metabolism has slowed). Your body has wonderful survival mechanisms and won’t grow hair or nails if it thinks it won’t have energy to survive. So it slows everything down during the day while you are not eating. Your body has just balanced your lower intake by conserving energy. Then, you arrive at the party, have a drink, spot the nachos and before you know it, you have consumed 5000 calories from the buffet table.A much more productive strategy is to eat lightly throughout the day. Fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, popcorn or whole-grain cereal. Use visualization before you go to the party. First picture yourself eating only one plate of food. Decide that you’re going to choose just a few of your favourite foods to enjoy – and that you don’t have to eat one of everything. Remember the law of diminishing returns. The first few bites offer the most satisfaction, so take small portions of your favourite foods and stop there.And for goodness sakes, don’t stand at the buffet table.If all else fails, tell Aunt Edna you think you have food allergies and, under strict doctor’s orders, simply can’t eat that pecan pie or cheese log. You’ll feel pretty silly if someone catches you with a bite. There is a principle of physics stating that to observe something is to change it. Start today keeping a food journal. It will pain you to remember every bite of that cheese log in the morning. This will give you an accurate picture of what you are eating and drinking and how many calories you are taking in. Knowing that you are “keeping score” may help you restrain yourself at the buffet table.
Speaking of restraint, what about alcohol?Another key area of holiday weight gain is the alcohol we drink at the parties. Alcohol loosens your inhibitions and resolve and you find yourself merrily polishing off the crab dip. Can you make yourself the designated driver? You and a friend take turns, so you don’t feel completely deprived.Gram for gram, alcohol has more calories than carbohydrates and protein. One beer is 150 calories, one glass of wine roughly 100 calories. Eggnog? You really don’t want to know. In fact, consuming just one drink a day will add over 1000 calories per week. During the holiday season alone, this means at least 3 extra pounds of fat.Alcohol metabolizes quite differently than “regular” carbohydrates. It is converted to fatty acids -which have a higher potential of fat storage – rather than glucose, like regular carbohydrates. Alcohol puts efficient fat burning on hold. The benefits of your early morning fat-burning run are lost.Simply put people it is up to you to decide how badly you want to arrive at January still wearing your skinny jeans. An axiom well known in sales is that it is much easier to convince someone to buy a cure than to buy a preventative measure. These are preventative measures to avoid gaining weight and believe, it is easier than trying to lose weight in January.
If you have resolved to not gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year, join our Holiday Weight Loss Challenge. Believe me, I understand the challenges this time of year- together we can do this.Ilana Katz is the founder of Optimal Nutrition for Life – ONForLife. Ilana is a licensed dietitian, specializing in sports nutrition and body composition. You know, fat loss. Whether your goal is to be a leaner, faster athlete, improve your body composition, or get off your cholesterol medicine, Ilana can get you on the right path. Using our scientifically designed Metabolic Boost program as the base, we design your nutrition plan to to work for you. We design around your life, including social, travel, family and work. Optimal nutrition results in optimal energy.