The holidays are a busy time filled with many of your favorite foods, drinks, and other treats. You may struggle to make time for your regular workouts, find yourself “cheating” more than once as you reach for an extra Christmas cookie or a few more pieces of candy in your kids’ trick-or-treat bags. Holiday weight gain is a real problem–not to mention the challenges the holidays can bring to your overall health and wellness routines.
How much you gain during the holidays will depend on a variety of factors — and for many, it’s not as much as you’d think. Most people experience actual holiday weight gain of less than a pound. Those who are obese or those who were formerly overweight, on the other hand, may struggle with around 2 pounds of weight gain during the holidays.
While the gain is overall relatively minor, it’s also a serious consideration: your body may take months to go back to normal, especially if you’re not making a concentrated effort to increase your fitness and get back to your diet plan once the holidays have passed.
Staying On Track
If you’re worried about weight gain during the holidays and want to be sure that you aren’t slacking off of your normal training routine, there are several things you can do to ensure that you don’t sabotage your fitness goals this holiday season.
Plan your splurges. What are your favorite holiday treats? Take the time to think through the foods and beverages that you most want to enjoy during the holiday season, then plan accordingly. When you know your favorite food is coming, you’ll be better able to avoid the temptations scattered across your path.
Look for healthy alternatives. There are healthy options available for nearly every holiday dish — including substituting mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, reducing the sugar content in your sweet potato casserole, and opting for straight veggies instead of calorie-heavy casseroles made with rich creams and sauces. Take the time to research healthy alternatives to many of your favorite dishes so that you’ll be able to prepare them for the holidays.
Plan a few fitness activities or events during the holidays. Schedule a long walk with a loved one during a holiday weekend. Take part in a tournament or game for your favorite sport. When you know you have an event coming up, you’ll be more likely to keep up with your training, which means you won’t slack on fitness.
Fill your plate the right way. Skip the dishes that you don’t really care about, like that fluffy white roll that you won’t really miss or the heavy casserole your aunt makes that you don’t really even like. Focus on filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, which are lower in calories. Take small portions of your favorite calorie and fat-laden dishes. If you really want a second serving, you can always go back for more but leave that as an option to get up and get more instead of overloading your plate in the first place.
Don’t skip meals. When they know they have a big holiday meal coming up, many people will skip the meal before to “save room.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t really help with calorie balance. Instead, it makes you more likely to binge eat during the holiday meal, consuming far more calories and making worse choices about what you put on your plate.
Keep tracking. If you wear a fitness tracker, keep tracking your intake over the holidays. Even if you don’t track your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, make sure you’re still tracking on the days surrounding the holiday. One day won’t blow your success, but constant splurges will!
Planning to keep up with your fitness routine during the holidays takes effort. By changing your mindset from “I deserve to splurge for the holiday,” to, “I deserve a healthy, happy body,” you’ll find that it’s easier to keep your resolutions. With these tips, by the time January rolls around, you won’t feel nearly as guilty — and you’ll be better prepared to meet your resolutions for the new year.