Here we go, fewer than 60 shopping days left until Christmas. Scary, huh? What’s even more frightening is the extra weight people gain this time of year without even realizing it. I’ve had clients gain 5-8 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s. Ouch. All that sweat and sacrifice undone for a bit of instant gratification. And yes, some of them stop working out too. Double whammy.
Let’s see if I can put this into perspective. The average adults gains 1-3 pounds a year, which results in 10-30 pounds of unwanted weight after just 10 years! And we’re adults a lot longer than that. (The average lifespan is 78.) Translation – gaining a pound or two every year equals being overweight or obese. So it’s pretty obvious why experts predict 9 out of 10 adults will become overweight or obese, isn’t it? Why settle for being average or becoming a statistic? Instead, be the exception. If you’ve got some extra fat reserves and you’re willing to make some changes, you can shed those unwanted pounds without diets, cleanses or surgery. With all the technology and scientific breakthroughs humans have made thus far, there still is no magic cure for getting and staying lean. Part of the problem is “what’s easy to do, is also easy NOT to do” – as the late great Jim Rohn so eloquently put it. For example, you might just skip a workout or two and think hey, it’s no big deal – it’s not like you gain 20 pounds because of it. Or maybe you eat a fattening meal or two but you don’t have a heart attack right afterward, right? Or perhaps you just take that extra bite or two long after you’re full. But when you repeat these behaviors over and over – it becomes a habit and before you know it, slow and steady weight gain has got a grip on you. You want to know how most lean people stay lean? Look at their habits – you’ll probably find a common theme:
- Regular physical activity
- Regular meals
- Limited sedentary time (especially in front of the TV)
- Mindful eating – paying attention to food choices, portions and calories
- Regular self-monitoring of weight, size or body composition
Not rocket science, right? Again, what’s easy to do, is easy not to. It’s up to you and only you to make a decision on what’s important to you and then buckle down and actually do those easy things. And don’t you dare blame your genetics or your metabolism or the coworkers that bring in all those treats. I’m not saying those things are insignificant, but what I am saying is you instantly give up your power when you blame someone or something else. You tell yourself a story about why you’re not as lean as you want to be and then you don’t make changes. Take your power! You can and you will achieve a healthy body weight when you decide to and then take consistent action. Lean and fit people reap the rewards of good habits and so can you. So to help you on your journey, here are some ideas to help you avoid holiday weight gain, or any weight gain for that matter.
- NEVER EVER arrive to a party hungry. If you do, you’re highly likely to overeat. Instead, have a high fiber snack beforehand. An apple with peanut butter, a handful of almonds or even a bowl of fiber-rich cereal will do the trick. Fiber slows digestion, helps control blood sugar and gives us a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. And it’s very likely you’re not getting enough.
- When you indulge (and believe me, you will) – set some boundaries and plan to make up for it. Decide ahead of time how you will splurge instead of letting yourself get out of control. Maybe you go for that favorite desert or a cocktail (or two). Fine, go for it, but either save some calories so you can have it without gaining weight or make up for it with extra activity and/or cutting back on calories the next day or two. My exerspy shows me when I’ve made it for my indulgences. When I over-eat a few extra hundred calories, I move more and eat a bit less the next day and I see those extra calories wiped away.
- Carry healthy snacks with you. Have you ever been in the mall and smelled the cinnamon rolls? What kind of effect does it have on you? Exactly. And if you’re hungry, you’re done. So don’t set yourself up to fail.
- Stay away from the food table. Have you ever noticed that the sight of food makes us want to eat, even when we’re not hungry? Okay, so don’t hang around the food! There will be lots of it this time of year so go socialize somewhere else or better yet, get some kind of activity going like cards or a board game to keep your eyes and mind off of food.
- Incorporate more activity into your daily routine. I have a TrekDesk treadmill desk and I won it by liking their Facebook page. So guess what I get to do? Walk while I work! How cool is that? In fact, I’m walking right now as I’m writing this blog. I burn at least 300 more calories a day using my treadmill desk without more time in the gym. I have to do an hour of cardio to burn that much! Now you may not be able to do this, but you CAN take a walk during your breaks and at lunch time instead of sitting in the break room. You can pace in front of the TV or while you’re on the phone. Again – easy to do, easy not to do. You can walk, right? And if you can’t, you can do upper body exercises instead.
The best weight control method is prevention, so plan to prevent that unwanted weight gain this year. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t let that be you.
–Kat, your dotFIT Registered Dietitian