The holidays are here.
The average person puts on between 7-10 lbs during the holidays. This weight gain is all too familiar for many, and is usually a combination of richer foods, more alcohol consumption, stress, colder weather (lack of exercise) and activities planned around being sedentary weigh in.
So, is this inevitable? No. But you need to have a plan. Here are a few steps you can take to keep the bulge off this holiday season.
1. Schedule EVERYTHING.
When you're busy with the holiday rush it's easy to skip meals, binge eat and generally feel like there is no time for the healthy stuff. However, if you can plan to visit school functions, family functions and holiday parties, you can plan your meals and workouts, too. I love Sundays for planning: They give you time to schedule and prep your meals and reflect on the week ahead. Look at your calendar and be honest: When will you have time to eat? Time to work out? Just because time is more precious during the holidays doesn't mean it's impossible. You just have to be pro-active. Road trip or out of town? Meal prep the day before and pack your meals. Extra activities? You may have to move your workout to a different time, move it from the gym to the house, or simply add more brisk walks into your day. Schedule your meals into your calendar and set reminders. Stock up on extra protein shakes and bars. However you plan, make sure you have a plan.
2. Allow yourself cheat moments.
Now, this doesn't work if you cheat every day. But if you know you're going to a holiday party, plan on going off plan, and set your 'cheats' ahead of time. For example, eat the protein and salad, but have ONE dessert and ONE cocktail. Knowing that you have these cheat moments to look forward to will keep you from binging all the time. Deprivation that leads to binge eating is not a good cycle. So, stay on plan 95% of the time, and for the other 5%, make sure it's purposeful and not mindless. And once you've had your cheats, don't add stress by wondering if you've ruined your progress. You haven't. You've actually made the smart decision and made your cheat moments count. Drink that hot toddy, stop at one, don't stress, and get back on track the next day.
It's extra important in the winter to stay hydrated. Up your water intake to a gallon a day or more, depending on activity. Lots of times when we eat, we're actually thirsty and not hungry. Staying on point with hydration will help curb cravings and keep your body healthy and strong.
4. Don't overdo it in the gym.
That's right. It's time right here and now to stop perpetuating the myth that if you eat an extra 500 calories, you can 'burn it off' in the gym the next day. This mentality puts extra stress on you to keep constant tally of calories vs. exercise and stress leads to extra estrogen and cortisol in the body, which leads to weight gain. Keep it simple. Schedule your workouts and stick to them, and don't push past it to 'earn back' cheat calories. Consistent exercise still will give you all the benefits you need from exercise.
Also, during the holidays we generally have less time, so scheduling longer workouts is a recipe for disaster. If one workout gets missed (stress), then the worry about the extra calories adds up (stress) and leads us to feelings of defeat (stress) which can keep us depressed (stress) which can lead to overeating (stress) which can lead to guilt (stress)... You see where this is headed. Keep your workouts on point and to the point. Then go enjoy your life!
5. Hide the scale
As you know, the scale can and will fluctuate for multiple reasons. Water weight, hormone imbalance, stress, workouts, constipation... you get the memo. It's extra important this holiday season to put the scale away. Your weight will fluctuate and it's ok. It's more important to stay consistent with your routine and diet as much as possible, and if your weight goes up or down a few pounds, so be it.
Weight is never a static number- it is constantly in flux. If you are looking for a number to be 'right' before you're happy, you'll never find happiness. Find happiness in meeting your goals, staying consistent, being with family, through your exercise-induced endorphin release, how your clothes fit, etc. The scale is literally just that: a number.
Use these tips to stay ahead of holiday weight gain and you'll be well on your way to a happy and healthy holiday season.