Even though we are in the midst of “the most wonderful time of the year,” for some it's not so wonderful due to increased stress and the usual weight gain. Did you know studies show that the average American gains 1-2 lbs over the holiday season?
This can become permanent baggage and contribute to being overweight or obese later in life. Most of us would like to enjoy the bounty of our traditional favorite foods instead of being on a diet over the holidays. So how can we still enjoy the holidays without gaining extra holiday cheer? It’s actually not so hard with a little planning and good decision making. Check out the following 12 tips and strategies below to avoid holiday weight gain.
1- Start your day off with protein.
Eating a protein-rich breakfast will help you feel full longer, help stave off unhealthy snacking, and give you more energy for your daily demands. Plus, you will be more likely to complete that daily exercise goal you may have been putting on the back burner. Try our Breakfast Sausage, Almond Butter on toast or PB&J Smoothie.
2- Work off the stress.
If you are like most people, the stress of the holidays inevitably gets to you. When you feel the pressure and anxiety of the holidays, take it to the gym. Studies have shown that exercise will not only relieve your stress, but also help you control anxiety when faced with stressful situations down the road.
3- Make fitness as convenient as possible.
The holidays can be some of the busiest times of the year, so make your fitness routine as convenient as possible. This way, you can stick to your goals when your schedule is tight. Have a backup plan when you can’t make it to the gym. Try a body weight workout you can do at home or some exercise DVDs. Any workout is better than no workout.
4- Find exercise in your daily activities.
If you can’t find time to hit the gym, make sure you incorporate as much activity in your day as you can. Park further away, ride your bike to work, or find ways to stay active with your daily chores. The key is to move as much as possible, avoiding a sedentary life.
5- Be an early bird.
Most likely, you'll have little to no distractions during the early hours of the day. Start your day off right by getting your blood flowing and finishing your workout early. The evening trip to the gym is sometimes challenging after a busy, stressful day. By scheduling a morning workout, not only will you have more energy throughout the day, but you're less likely to skip your workout.
6- Make a plan and put it in your calendar.
Determining a weekly or monthly workout plan by writing it down makes it official and more likely that you will stick to it. By writing out your workouts, you can also plan ahead for stressful and less stressful days. For example, if Mondays are too busy, make it a rest day. If you have more time on Saturday mornings, make it a longer workout.
7- Walk and talk.
Try multitasking to fit in some exercise on a tight schedule. Instead of sending an email, pick up the phone and make a call while you walk around. Walking one mile can burn roughly 75-85 calories, depending on your speed, weight, and gender. Cell phones offer the convenience of moving around, so take advantage of it.
8- Grab a workout buddy.
Enlisting a friend or spouse to work out with will keep you motivated and consistent. It is harder to cancel on someone who is counting on you. Try pairing up with someone who is reliable and has a similar (or higher) fitness level than you. This will help push you a little bit.
9- Join a team.
Joining a sports team usually takes minimal time out of your schedule. Not only will you be working out with a greater intensity, but will have fun doing it. Look into a local community basketball, flag football, or soccer team. Your weekly game can be a fun hobby that takes the “work” out of your workout.
10-Include your whole family.
Instead of taking time away from your family for your workout, bring them along. Try going on a hike together or going to a gym to play active games like tag, relay races, or some other creative competition. You could also go to a local park and do a “playground workout” while your kids play.
11- Give and take.
It is nearly impossible to avoid all the holiday temptations, and you shouldn’t completely. However, you shouldn’t jeopardize good health, either. Make sure you are making up for the extra calories with extra workout time, or less food and treats on the next meal. Be mindful of your extra calories so you can make up the difference.