Yes, you can achieve your weight loss goals – even in the thick of all the festivities of the season. Your weight loss goals shouldn’t have to suffer just because you’d like a serving of Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes.
With a good understanding of how your body gets and stores excess calories and fat (coupled with some good practices and cultivated habits), you should be able to maintain a healthy weight despite the indulgences that characterize the season.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holiday feasting without worrying about having to put “Lose the holiday weight” on your list of resolutions for next year.
Why Is Weight Loss So Hard Over The Holidays?
It’s very easy to gain weight over the holiday season. In fact, research has shown that people do gain weight in the time between November and January, most likely due to increased inactivity and one holiday meal too many.1
But more than the actual pounds gained, there’s a lot going on during the winter season that may be contributing to negative habits that undermine weight loss down the line. Consider these:
- The colder weather making it harder to get exercise
- More late nights than usual due to holiday parties and events, which can impact your metabolism and contribute to weight gain
- Added emphasis on indulgence and feasting, with access to special calorie-rich foods you may not normally eat during the rest of the year
- Increased exposure to snack foods and sugary treats that can mess up your weight loss goals and diet well past the New Year
- More chances to drink alcohol, which often contains a load of hidden sugars detrimental to weight loss2
These are just some of the factors that might contribute to holiday weight gain. But luckily, just as there are many ways to gain a few extra pounds, there are also a lot of ways to lose them. Read on for some smart strategies to avoid gaining extra weight, as well as some sound weight loss tips to keep in mind during this season.
Your Holiday Diet Plan: Portion Sizes, Intermittent Fasting, And Other Diet Tips
Portion sizes have a direct impact on your weight.3 Now, no one wants to feel deprived during the holiday feasting, but once you pick up the habit of portioning your food properly, it’s not something you’ll feel is detrimental to your enjoyment of the season.
Besides, you’re teaching yourself to eat just the right amount. You don’t even have to be excessively controlling about portion sizes to achieve effective weight loss. Just use your best judgment and stop when you’re full. You can also keep these tips in mind when you serve yourself at the dining table:
- Eat from a smaller plate so you’re automatically serving yourself a smaller portion.
- Drink a glass of water before loading up your plate, so you end up eating less.
- Practice eating slower. Take the time to talk to your dining companions, drink water during the meal and not just after.
- Put your snacks and treats into proper portion sizes (like a cup or a handful) instead of munching straight out of the box or bag.
- Don’t ignore the vegetable sides. Load up on these first before you go for the starchier parts of the menu.4
How To Start Intermittent Fasting During The Holidays
It can be challenging to limit your eating hours, especially with all the holiday meals planned. But it is doable, especially if you choose the popular 16-8 type of fasting (fast for 16 hours, eat for 8). You can choose to stop eating after your last meal at dinnertime, then count 16 hours before breaking your fast the next day.
The benefit of this is that you’re allowing your body ample time to rest between huge amounts of calorie ingestion. Aside from gradual weight loss, some people even report better energy levels and improved mental focus while practicing intermittent fasting, which can help you through the stress and rush of the holiday season.5
Granted, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. It’s best to consult with your doctor before considering it, and to practice safe methods of fasting to reap good results and sustainable weight loss.
Workout Tips To Help You Overcome Holiday Weight Gain
It isn’t easy squeezing in time for your usual exercise routine at this time of year. It’s colder out, and you’re generally less inclined to work up a sweat. Plus, it’s also one of the busiest times of the year.
Here are some simple ways you can still incorporate a good workout in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
- Encourage your friends and family to take walks or ride bikes together after meals.
- Keep up with your chores around the house that encourage you to move around, like clearing out the attic and storage spaces to see what you can donate, walking the dogs, etc.
- Consider setting meet-ups with friends and family that don’t center around eating. Try ice skating, taking a leisurely stroll around town, apple picking, or other fun experiences that also encourage you to keep moving.
- Try chopping up your workouts into shorter, yet more intense intervals. A 15-minute bodyweight circuit first thing in the morning or a brisk jog around the block is still better than no workout at all.
Don’t Stress Over The Holiday Weight Gain
You can – and should – still enjoy the holiday season despite keeping your eating habits and exercise in check. By employing some of these techniques and exercising good judgment over your choices, you should be able to feel festive and full of holiday cheer while keeping weight loss on point.
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