Over the holiday season, millions of Americans gain anywhere from 2 to 7 lbs. In fact, the one or two pounds people gain during the holidays tends to stay with them for life. So, how do you avoid holiday weight gain? Lean muscle is the secret to keeping your metabolism firing to burn fat all day long. People who are active are more likely to maintain their weight during the holidays.
Here are some tips for keeping weight off during the holidays:
- Physical activity. It’s a fact, people who are more active are more likely to maintain their weight during the holidays. This year, park farther away from the entrance to the mall and get a nice walk in and take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator. This year, instead of being the wallflower at all those holiday parties, get on the dance floor and dance your a$$ off! Dancing burns off those extra calories you’re consuming. Just 30 minutes of dancing burns about 150 calories. So crank up the tunes and get your body moving!
- Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can be a major source of hidden calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat (9 calories per gram) and nearly twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate or protein (4 calories per gram). Just one apple martini has 235 calories and almost 12 grams of sugar! Stick to a flavored vodka & soda or a light beer. Drink plenty of water! In fact, for every drink you have, drink at least 1 extra glass of water. Water will help your body metabolize the alcohol and may counteract some of the dehydrating effects of alcohol on the body such as that almost inevitable next-day hangover. No matter what, ALWAYS have a designated driver!
- Limit soda and other sweetened beverages. These drinks add extra calories, too. Simply put, they are drinks high in fat and/or sugar. A can of soda, for example, has 150 calories and 42 grams of sugar! An 8 oz. glass of egg nog has about 220 calories! It would take about an hour of ice-skating to burn off that nog (220 calories burned per hour). Personally, I love light egg nog but have made the switch to Rice-Nog, it’s delicious and only 80 calories per serving. However, H2O is always the best choice!
- Schedule holiday celebrations at normal meal times. Celebrations outside of normal meal times encourage people to pile on snacks which always mean extra calories. This one isn’t always easy to follow with all the events and holiday parties, it’s the holiday season and we’ll all splurge on tasty treats. Try to use good judgement, do your best, and don’t stress over it.
- Choose foods with fewer calories. Foods with fewer calories for their size make you feel fuller sooner. Reach for those celery sticks and stick to lean protein snacks like shrimp or turkey slices. I absolutely love traditional stuffing unfortunately, just ½ cup of this delectable treat requires half an hour of shoveling snow (195 calories burned per 30 minutes). Since I live at the beach I’d have to shovel sand and I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Now, I opt for brown rice stuffing which saves 100 calories per serving. Just a little discipline goes a long way.
- Use smaller plates. The bigger your plate, the more food you can pile on it, which means you’ll be more likely to overeat. Using smaller dishes may actually help you eat less. Using a smaller plate “tricks” your mind to think that you are eating the same amount of food as you normally do when you will probably be eating less than you normally do. Try using a salad plate for your entrée. Eating less at each meal can save hundreds of calories saved each week. Remember, it’s the little changes that make the biggest differences!
- Eat a healthy snack beforehand. You’ll be less likely to eat a lot of fattening food at parties. Try an apple with almond butter or a protein shake with a small piece of fruit like a pear or an apple. One medium-sized apple contains 5 grams of fiber and only 80 calories, they’re great to stave off that sweet tooth. Or, grab my new favorite protein treat the PowerCrunch Bar, a healthy snack that tastes like dessert! My picks for protein powders are ProtoWhey, MyoFusion, and Elite XT.
- Weigh yourself weekly. Weekly NOT daily! It’s the holidays and we’ll all splurge on tasty treats just don’t stress over it. Just try not to overdo it and if you do, get right back on the track the next day. If you notice the needle on the scale creeping up a bit, create a plan of how you’ll get back on track when the holidays are over.
- Get plenty of REST! Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, stress, moodiness, and the inability to be your best. With all the holiday parties and late nights it’s easy to skimp on sleep but give yourself the gift of sleep this holiday season. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and you deserve it!