The days between Halloween and New Years Day are when people report the most weight gain throughout the year. It can be hard to avoid the common pitfalls with so many holiday parties and get-togethers with friends after work. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you keep the weight off (or even lose a few lbs) this holiday season.
Have a Goal
Sure, you want to avoid the dreaded holiday season weight gain, but that is not a specific goal, in fact, it is a general goal that most peoples share… and we see how that has not worked for most people in the past. Goals that are more specific are more likely to be achieved. What is your weight and waistline. Maintaining those throughout the holiday season is more specific. Dropping 5 pounds of body fat and dropping two jean sizes may seem ambitious, but they are specific goals and can be achieved with focus, planning and action.
Make a Plan
Have a plan set up to remind you of what will need take place in order for you to reach your goal. Whether the goal is to maintain or lose a few pounds, have a plan in place to help guide you through the next two months. Here are some things to consider when making your plan. How many parties are you attending? This can help you identify which days might present the biggest barriers to reaching your goals.
We aren’t saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, but anticipating tougher moments will prepare you to make wiser decisions when you are trying to stick to your goals adjust your meals proceeding those events. Adjusting your meals on those days can go a long way toward making sure you don’t crash and burn.
What meals are you planning to make for yourself? Taking control of your diet by planning and preparing healthy meals for yourself will make it easier to be sure you are eating a well balanced diet that provides enough nutrition to sustain your will power during the moments of temptation.
Eat plenty of protein, vegetables and healthy fats. These foods will help keep you full and energized. It is important to give your body proper nutrients so you are able to maintain energy levels and keep our metabolism running like a fat burning machine.
Establish Easy & Healthy Habits
Along with this plan you will need to establish new habits to help you along the way. An easy habit to develop is taking a fish oil every day. The DHA in fish oil has been shown to provide multiple benefits to active individuals. From nutrient transport to improved memory and reaction times to improved mood and immune system, this small change in habit can help set you up for big success.
Make sure you are getting enough protein. Not eating enough protein can lead to an inability to build and/or maintain lean muscle mass and/or increase body fat. At least 1-2 grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight is recommended for active individuals.
Make sure you make a large pile of vegetables on your plate with every meal. Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which help with various bodily functions including, hormone release, antioxidant production, nutrient absorption. A diet high in fruits and vegetables will keep you full and give you the energy you need to accomplish daily tasks and stay strong.
Emotional well being plays a large role in how you eat during the holiday season. Exercise and increased activity levels will not only boost your metabolism, but keep you mentally focused on succeeding during this challenging time of year. Try to get in at least three challenging workouts a week. They should be focused on resistance training to maintain muscle mass and increase caloric burn during and after your workouts.
Adding 30 minutes of walking a day will also help maintain focus, relieve stress and burn a few extra calories. Wear a pedometer or Fit Bit to track your steps each day and monitor your activity level. Have a goal for how much energy you will expend (calories you will burn) on each given day. Walking 10,000 steps a good place to start.
Minimize the Damage
There are going to be times when you will indulge. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect, but try to avoid binging. Here are strategies to help prevent that from happening.
Avoid Unhealthy Snacking
Holiday treats, candies, starch filled side dishes, and chips and dips tend to get eaten simply because they are around. You may only nibble on small portions, but doing so repeatedly adds up and it can be easy to lose track of just how much you are actually eating.
Most snacking is done out habit rather than hunger which makes it easier to indulge without limiting the total intake. A handful veggies and nuts can keep you nourished and satisfy your desire to snack without sabotaging your progress.
Get Rid of the Leftovers
Throwing away food may seem wasteful, but indulging in guilty pleasures, leads to excess caloric intake. Those foods offer little benefit, lead to feelings of regret and shame, which in turn, can lead to binging. The unhealthy left overs can be huge barriers and should be thrown in the garbage as quickly as possible, because, let’s face it, that is what they are.
Sure, there may be people all over the world who are starving, but I wouldn’t let them eat that crap either.
Keep Track of Your Food Intake
Many people underestimate how many calories they consume on a daily basis. This is common during the holiday season when calorically dense foods are staples of many social gatherings. Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners and December holiday parties are notorious for sweets and comfort foods. The caloric impact of these foods combined with the large portions is a dangerous combination when trying to make it throughout the holiday season without gaining weight.
Tracking your food intake can help limit the damage done, by keeping you aware of the implications of the foods you are eating. Using a food journal app like My Fitness Pal is an easy and fun way to monitor your calories and nutrient balance. Exercise will help burn some calories, but you can’t outwork a bad diet.
Food journaling can seem tedious, but our members at Hustle Fitness have found that doing so can yield great results when they done consistently. If you are not tracking what you are putting in your body it will be much harder to measure your caloric intake, which makes it that much harder to make to make adjustments along the way.
Get Out of the House
Parties are minefields of temptation. If you are the type of person that will not be able to resist the urge to graze as you are sitting around with friends and family, go for a walk. Walking before and after meals will help you focus on your goals, avoid grazing, digest large meals and burn some extra calories. You can use that time to get away from the food and the people that you want to avoid. It is also an opportunity to catch up with family or friends that you have not seen for a while. Invite someone along and spend that time reconnecting.
Don’t Go it Alone
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. We are all human and it is unrealistic to have success 100% of the time. The trick is to keep moving forward when we do experience failure. If we never quit, we never truly fail. Most people will give up before they reach their maximum potential. Don’t be one of them.
Make a commitment to see this till the end. If you fall short of your goal, take that as a lesson and learn from it so you can make a better effort next time.
Get a Workout Buddy
Find a friend who has this same mindset or hire a personal trainer or join a group focused on exercise and nutrition. Whatever you do find a result based way to help keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Finding that someone to help keep you on track can be the difference between achieving success and abandoning your goal.