You can avoid holiday weight gain this year. Here are my personal 6 tips to keep lean over the holidays.
Huge Potential For Weight Gain
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Chinese New Year, one thing is for certain…there will be a lot of food around. It’s so easy to put on weight. For many people, what they gain over the holiday will still be there in the Summer. Over one holiday, I put on a pound a day, and ended up 14 pounds heavier! I didn’t notice the weight going on each day. I’ve sworn never to do that again. It’s hard trying to eat healthily, when you feel “obliged” to eat all the food around you. So my first tip is…
1. Don’t Stress About The Holiday Meals
It’s way too difficult (and let’s face it, downright miserable) to try to be on a diet when eating the main holiday meal. I’m sure I’m not the only one having to go to three Christmas lunches over this holiday. So I’m just going to treat them as a refeed meal(s), not a “cheat” meal, as that involves guilt. So this Christmas I’ll be eating a smoked salmon with prawn starter, turkey, including roast potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding, pigs in blankets, stuffing and gravy; followed by chocolate and orange profiteroles. Oh, and a few glasses of champagne. I’m planning to relax and enjoy every mouthful.
2. Don’t Be The Fat Guy
Whilst these meals will probably contain more calories than you expend for a whole day, you don’t need to keep on eating until you feel so uncomfortable that you need to loosen your belt buckle.
Just eat to be satisfied. So if there are still a few more roast potatoes, or left over pudding in the centre of the table, don’t feel obliged to eat it if you’re already “stuffed.”
Take your time. Eat slowly. It can take your brain 20 minutes to register that you’re full.
If you do over-indulge on the alcohol, then this article on avoiding a hangover may help.
3. Go For A Walk
“Walking is man’s best medicine”
I don’t know about you, but I always experience that “carb coma” after eating the mother-load of carbs in one sitting. Then I keep nodding off whilst sitting on the sofa, even though it’s only two in the afternoon.
One of the best ways I’ve found to keep awake, is to go for a nice walk afterwards. It’s not just the walking, but also being out in the fresh air and getting some daylight. So this holiday, why not take a walk with your kids, dogs, or friends. You’ll also burn a few calories…every little helps in the weight loss journey.
4. Stop Grazing
Sure, Primal man might have stopped to grab a couple of berries or insects whilst he was out on a hunt, but he didn’t consume an additional day’s worth of calories from them.
Many people will have multiple tins of chocolates and sweets continually being replaced over the holiday period. Every time you walk past it, your mind says, “go on, just have one”. You probably don’t even remember eating them…they don’t count, if you eat them without sitting down, right?
Before you know it, you’ll be opening a new tub to replace that one. You’d need to run for 10 minutes to burn off the same number of calories as is in an average grape sized chocolate.
I was looking at a popular 1.3 KG / 2.8 lbs tin of individually wrapped chocolates, and worked out that there were over 6,000 calories in the tin. That’s potentially 2 lb weight gain if you finish the tub during the holidays.
We often kid ourselves that all those chocolate and sweets lying around are “for the children.” But we all know that refined sugar is not a health food, so if we want the best health for our children, we should be cutting this out.
I don’t buy any tins of “grazing” chocolate or sweets, to avoid temptation—plus my kids would likely try to eat a whole tin on their own if they could get at it themselves.
Like many people, I’ll receive gifts of chocolate, sweets, cakes and biscuits throughout the year, not just in the holiday season. So if you are gifted some, then graciously accept them, and later give them to someone else, in order to get them out of the house, to avoid draining your willpower.
5. Don’t Make Every Meal A Holiday Meal
Most of us will have around ten days of celebration. But that doesn’t mean you need to “pig out” the whole time. I’ll be eating my usual healthy and nutritious food for every meal outside of those three Christmas lunches I’m going to. That way, I’ll offset the extra calories, and lose some of that weight, without really trying.
6. Start Exercising Now, Don’t Wait Until Next Year
We’re built to move. Whilst I’m not suggesting you pop off to the toilet during Christmas lunch, to get in some squats (guilty, I’ve done that in the past)—if you don’t exercise at the moment, then start now.
There’s no point in letting yourself get worse, before trying to get better.
Top tip—if you can schedule your workout in the morning, before your carbfest meal, then you can deplete some glycogen, making it more likely your body will shuttle those excess carbohydrates into muscle glycogen, rather than body fat.
Although I’ll be “on holiday” during those ten days, I’ll still be exercising three times a week, to keep myself in great shape. I want to continually better myself, every week.
I’m aiming to have a zero weight gain by the end of the Christmas holidays—check back with me in January to see how I did. 🙂
So this holiday, drop the guilt and enjoy spending time with your family, giving and receiving happiness in the process. Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to you all.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom
Update — 3 Days After Christmas
None more surprised 😮 than me. The bottom weight was upon waking on Christmas Day 🌲 145.8 lbs.
The top figure was 3 days later and I was 0.6 lbs lighter! 👍
I was expecting to still be heavier and not to get back down until New Year’s Eve.
I followed the “How to avoid holiday weight gain” tips that I shared above. On Christmas Day I had 2 full Christmas lunches including deserts and wine. Boxing Day I had one Christmas lunch including dessert and wine again, then a meal in a restaurant in the evening.
On both days I skipped breakfast. So I’m back on track. 😀
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