The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year — but with a calendar full of parties, adult beverages and tempting treats at every turn, it’s the most challenging time of year to stay on track. That’s why most people gain one to two pounds over the last six weeks of the year. And while that’s not excessive, it’s a holiday gift that you can’t simply return with a receipt. Use this expert advice to help avoid holiday weight gain.
Despite the challenges, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festivities without destroying your healthful habits. Here are five great ideas from nutrition pros to help ensure that you don’t gain an ounce before New Year’s Day.
Focus on Fitness
As a CrossFit Level 1 instructor and fitness fanatic, I use holidays to squeeze in more exercise — not less. When I have days off from my day job, that gives me a lot more time hours to focus on my fitness. Try using your days off work to spend more time doing what you love, whether that’s hiking, skiing or running. Even if my time is tight, I’ll up the intensity and do little burners like 7-minutes of a 100-meter sprint (row, run or bike) coupled with 10burpees. Burpees are hands down one of the most efficient total body exercises to help you get fitter, faster. Yay Burpees!
Step on the Scale
After exercise, the other way I keep my weight stable during this time of year is to weigh myself as much as possible. I do this first thing in the morning, which is considered the best time to weigh yourself. I strive to weigh myself at least three days a week but every day would be even better. Numerous studies show that frequent weigh-ins help dieters stay on track and can keep you motivated. One study from Duke University reported that overweight subjects who weighed themselves daily (51% of all subjects)lost, on average, 20 pounds, compared to about 7 pounds lost among those who weighed themselves about five days per week.
Get a Game Plan for Food Pushers
Who is the food pusher in your life? Mom? Husband? Everyone has a relative or friend who is always encouraging you to taste this, nibble on that because you deserve to. Instead of eating and drinking to appease, come up with a statement you can use to cordially set a boundary at holiday gatherings so you can make your own choices without undue influence.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Eating an optimal amount of protein and fiber in the a.m. can help tamp down hunger to keep you on track all day long. For best results, try to get 20 to 30 grams of high-quality protein and at least 6 grams of fiber in around a 400 to 450-calorie breakfast. Try a couple of eggs scrambled with fiber-rich veggies and a whole-grain English muffin; a cup of Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and a sprinkle of granola; or my favorite protein pancakes topped with plain Greek yogurt and a light drizzle of honey.
Put the Brakes on Booze
If you like to get in the holiday spirit alcohol, here’s how to partake without drinking any high-cal cocktails. Dress up your non-alcoholic drinks with glassware with garnishes to get the festive feelings minus the boozy calories. Use a champagne glass with your favorite seltzer garnished with fresh pomegranate arils or enjoy low-fat eggnog topped with nutmeg and cinnamon in a decorated brandy glass.