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Maintaining Your Weight Over The Holidays (Part 2)

Posted: December 10, 2015

Last week we looked at the importance of keeping up your exercise routine over the holidays. We also looked at some strategies about how to keep those calories burning. This week I’d like to spend a few moments on the other side of the equation and cover how to eat right over the holidays!

The first thing to realize is that we’re probably going to overeat. Many health and fitness experts used to assume the average holiday weight gain was around five pounds. But this was really more anecdotal than anything else. Some new research indicates that it might not be as bad as we originally thought. 

According to these studies, the average weight gain for adults now appears to be only one or two pounds during the holiday season. If you’re active and near your ideal weight, that’s pretty easy to deal with. Unfortunately, the research also indicates that if you’re already overweight, you stand a good chance of gaining that five pounds. And those pounds usually don’t come right back off. 

So what do we do about it? As I covered last week, you’ve got to keep active. That’s your engine to keep burning those calories that you know will be coming in. But exercise alone won’t do it. You’ve got to have an eating strategy too. 

The first thing to remember is to always try and take smaller portions. If possible, go for some of the “healthier” treats. Pay attention to the calorie density of things. Some things are better than others. There are people intentionally making healthier treats, but it’s also the holiday season. 

For example, yogurt covered pretzels probably aren’t going to kill you. But eggnog on the other hand, has about a billion calories. It’s yummy, but you’re asking for trouble. Don’t drink it when you’re thirsty!

That’s actually an important point that applies to eating too. You better not be hungry when they’re bringing that holiday tray full of cookies, and confection sugar covered fudge brownies by your desk. Otherwise, you might just snarf down several meals worth of sugar, and be pretty much comatose a couple hours later when the sugar high leaves your body. 

A good plan is to just sample little bits of things. Take a little of this, and a little of that. My wife is great at this. She can take three little rectangles of a Hershey bar and leave the rest in a drawer. The problem is that she leaves it in the same place every time. So then I have to eat it. 

Sometimes, when I know it’s going to be bad, I’ll skip a couple snacks. If it’s really going to be bad, I might skip a meal too. That will leave some room for some of those holiday calories. You won’t be getting the same nutritional value, and might not perform as well. You might even be a little sluggish due to the extra sugar. 

The goal is to control your “mess-ups.” A little here, a little there, can certainly add up to a couple of pounds over a couple weeks. But several “total train wrecks” will definitely put you in the plus five column. Manage it. Minimize the damage. 

If you’re able to exercise some self control, try and eat as clean as you can, most of the time. Maybe you can give something else up to make some room. Say you’re still drinking pop or sweet tea. Maybe you can choose water instead, so the treats won’t get you.

Now if you’re the kind of person that can’t stop once you get started, you need to just stay away from it. Don’t bring it home. If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it. Most people won’t leave home and run to the store to go buy a holiday pack of Little Debbie Christmas trees. But if there’s a half full carton there… well, you know. 

So far, this article has been (mostly) tongue and cheek, but you CAN manage your calories this holiday season. The key is to be intentional about things. Take a little. Walk away. Or take a little and then go for a walk!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Penny Peterson, who lost 3.6 lbs and 1.6% of her body weight. Kaylee Peterson was second, losing 1.0 lb and 0.8%. Debbie Eveland finished third, also losing 1.0 lb and 0.7%.