If you’re looking to drop (or simply not add) a few pounds this December, it is possible.
You know how it goes. Holiday parties with chips and dip and cheese balls and pigs in a blanket. Cookie baking and gingerbread houses. Big dinners with gravy, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. Pecan pie and shortbread and those boxes of mixed chocolates. Spiked cider, rum and eggnog, and hot toddies.
‘Tis the season to indulge!
And that means increased sugar and alcohol intake, comfort eating, and more time spent on the couch than at the gym.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the five-pound holiday weight gain rumor may be a myth (they claim the average North American only gains about a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s). But falling out of your regular, healthy routine can spell trouble for the rest of the year, making it hard to get back on track and leading to more weight gain.
The more you get out of a habit, the harder it is to return to it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Keep reading to learn what to do!
Make a Plan
As we get ready to head into the heart of the season, make a plan to get ahead of the curve.
- Plan your meals. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks - think quick and easy options that are easy to grab when you’re tired and hungry, like unsalted nuts, string cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt, and no-prep fruit and veggies like baby carrots, apples, bananas, and blueberries.
- Buy lots of fresh produce – again, think quick and easy! Bagged salads, pre-chopped or frozen veggies, and washed and cut mixed fruit, will ensure you eat healthy when it’s too easy to order takeout.
- Schedule your workouts. Look at the calendar, and despite social engagements, gift shopping and wrapping, and cooking and baking, make time to exercise. Write it down. Commit yourself to stick to it. You (and your health) are worth it.
Treat Yourself Well
We know the holidays are a special time, and we all deserve to relax and enjoy life. So you should absolutely feel okay with indulging in Christmas dinner or baking cookies with your kids and then eating a bunch while watching Rudolph. Life is stressful (particularly during a pandemic!), and we all need a break. And you can enjoy indulging without the guilt when you know you’re still doing your best to make healthy choices most of the time.
Focus on little things. Have a dance party during present-wrapping breaks; eat a healthy breakfast to start your day off right; go outside with the kids to play in the snow; eat some fruit before heading off to a party where you know there will be a lot of treat-type food and vodka in the punch.
Other Helpful Tips
Get enough sleep. Not getting enough shut-eye increases our hunger hormones, can lead to late-night eating, poorer choices throughout the day, and skipping your workouts because you’re too tired. It can also contribute to fat storage in the belly, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Aim for at least seven hours and feel the difference.
Drink lots of water. Keep a refillable water bottle by your bed, in your car, at your desk, and by the couch to remind yourself to stay hydrated. Or, use the MyHealth app’s reminder settings to prompt yourself to drink water throughout the day. Not only will you be giving your body what it needs, but drinking a lot of water will help you feel fuller longer and can help keep you from mindless snacking. According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, water “may suppress your appetite, boost your metabolism, and make exercise easier and more efficient.”
De-stress. Stress levels skyrocket during the holidays, which often means unhealthy coping methods. Drowning our sorrows in alcohol and unhealthy foods and laying around binge-watching your latest Netflix addiction isn’t going to help. Instead, try to take some downtime every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Put on a quick meditation, do some deep breathing and stretching, read a couple of chapters of a book, or do some journaling to help relieve pressure and give yourself a break.
Party Planning. If you’re going to be at an event or dinner where you know there will be tons of tempting options, you can still make intelligent choices. Don’t totally deprive yourself – go ahead and enjoy your absolute favorites, but keep portions in mind, and then cut back on other treats. Here are some more tips:
- Hold the dip with the raw veggies.
- Drink clear spirits (think gin and vodka) instead of wine or beer, and drink water in between.
- Steer clear of sugary punches and rich egg nog; load up your dinner plate with vegetables and stick to foods high in fiber and protein if possible.
- Skip the buns with butter at dinner.
- Take the skin off of lean turkey meat.
- Lastly, remember to eat slowly and enjoy each bite!
Making time for a quick workout before the big event is also a good move. A good sweat sesh will motivate you to eat healthier, and your metabolic rate remains higher, meaning you’ll continue to burn calories while noshing.
Rely on FitTrack
Our new premium MyHealth+ app can track your nutrition with the help of a food scanner, meal planner, and more. It also offers a 30-day workout program called “Move It to Lose It,” which you can use to specifically target body weight and body fat percentage over the holidays. (Not sure what your body fat mass or percentage are? Our smart scales measure and track 17 body metrics for you!)
And remember that health and fitness is not about a quick fix (as much as we wish it were!), but a matter of dedication, routine, and staying motivated to see long-term results. Our app will help keep you on track, see your progress, and give you the tools you need to keep going. We’ll help you build healthy habits as part of an overall lifestyle that supports your whole health.It IS possible. You can avoid weight gain—and even lose weight!—if you plan, honor and love yourself, and treat your body right. It’s not only about your clothes fitting better but about feeling good and having the energy and vitality to live your best life. So start with small changes, find the right support and guidance (sign up for a free seven-day trial of the app here), and be proud that you’re putting your health first.