Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Every holiday, people tend to put on a fair amount of weight, right up until they make their New Year’s resolutions. Some people start gaining weight as early as October and September when they start putting out Halloween candy.
If you want to get in shape or you think you’re going to want to get in shape, you should take steps to avoid gaining a bunch of weight during the holidays so that getting that summer body is much more achievable and more likely.
Choosing the Right Foods
Part of the problem with holiday foods is that they tend to be eaten in large amounts, and they also contain plenty of sugars and carbs. This is especially true around Halloween when most of the foods are candy and chocolate.
Around Thanksgiving, there is turkey, but there’s also stuffing, potatoes, sauces, casseroles, rolls, and desserts. Pies are in great abundance, and the carb-loaded sides are stacked high.
Come Christmas time, it’s a very similar situation to Thanksgiving, but with the addition of things like chocolate, cookies, hot chocolate, and more. But of course, many of these things are traditional or at least commonplace, making it hard to avoid them.
The key to keeping yourself in check on these holidays isn’t to outright deny yourself any of the foods you want to eat, but rather to limit them to a reasonable amount within a reasonable timespan.
That being said, there are some better options for foods that you can focus on to allow you to eat more and stay within a certain caloric limit. One of the main ones is meats, especially poultry.
Chicken and turkey are very commonly eaten on holidays, so you can load up a bit more on these instead of focusing as much on the sides and desserts. However, you might want to try staying away from fried foods as well as unhealthy meats like ham.
Another thing you can try is focusing more on vegetables for your holiday meals. Many people don’t prepare vegetables very well, but if you try some good seasoning and roasting methods, they pair well with poultry and keep your calories and carbs low.
When it comes to desserts, try and opt more for fruit-based desserts at least. An apple pie isn’t very healthy any way you cut it, but it’s a little bit healthier than chocolate-based desserts. Try not to go overboard on desserts, but they’re fine to have in moderation.
Dodging Peer Pressure
Another problem faced during the holidays is peer pressure. A great deal of fitness lies in the mindset, so when you’re in the right state of mind you know what foods to avoid, and thus you lose weight.
However, if it’s a holiday and people are really pushing for you to eat more than you think you should, it’s easy to cave in. If you think your family might push you to eat more, try to avoid bringing it up in the first place at all.
If it’s an option, fix your own plate and load up on more meat and take it easier on the sides. It’s still fine to have some of everything but just keep to a small and reasonable amount- especially when the desserts come out.
If you bring up the fact that you’re dieting, many people will blow you off, saying that it’s just for this one holiday and that they worked hard to cook the food, and so on. This can lead to quite an annoying conversation, so it’s good to try and avoid it as much as possible.
Something to keep in mind is the amount of time it takes to gain and lose weight. Once you start to lose weight, if you’re losing at a healthy rate, it should be about half a pound per week. In that one day, you might be gaining 1 or 2 pounds, not including leftovers.
So if Thanksgiving in its entirety leaves you 4 pounds heavier, it’s going to take 8 weeks of work to undo that process, assuming you’re dieting and exercising at a healthy and reasonable rate. That’s a lot of time for “just one holiday.”
The same can be said for Christmas. People tend to eat rather lavishly and in large quantities throughout Christmas time. If you have an extended amount of time off of work to be with your family, and you’re eating and drinking a lot, you’ll gain plenty of weight.
When people try and pressure you into making bad decisions like eating a ton of food that’s not good for you, just go along with them until they stop bugging you about it. Don’t eat as much as you tell them you’re going to, if that’s what it takes.
Oftentimes people can get upset when they hear someone’s dieting at a lavish dinner, not because they put a bunch of work into it, but rather because they all know it’s not good for them necessarily.
It’s in your best interest if you want to lose weight and look a certain way for summer to avoid people that try and get you off track of your weight loss. There’s no law saying you have to start dieting after New Year’s, and the sooner you start, the better.
Eating in Moderation
Whether you’re not in control of the meals for the holidays or you can’t overcome peer pressure to eat certain things, or you just don’t want to miss out, you can rest assured. You can and should still eat well on holidays, but you should keep it in moderation.
One of the main reasons people tend to fail diets, in general, is that they get so strict on themselves but don’t have the mental strength to keep up with that strictness, so they end up cheating really hard on their diet instead of just indulging a little bit.
The same definitely applies to the holidays. When everyone is eating good meals and having a good time, you don’t want to feel left out sitting there eating some “healthy” options. It’s going to make you want to binge really hard and drop the diet.
You shouldn’t deny yourself the ability to eat the foods you want during holidays, but you just have to be smart about it. You should try to stay on top of your diet on the days surrounding the holiday itself, instead of eating tons of leftovers days afterward.
It’s important to be mindful of how you eat on the day of the holiday, as well. If you plan on having a Thanksgiving dinner with your family at 6 PM, you should try to have a light breakfast and lunch, just enough to tide you over until dinner.
If possible, you should avoid tons of calorie-dense drinks. Whether it be soda, beer, or anything else, drinks that aren’t water can be pretty hefty on the calories. If you’re trying to save your waistline while eating a nice, big dinner, stay away from the beer.
Try to employ more of a sampling strategy when it comes to things like sides and desserts. If you want to eat a bit of everything, just get a little bit of everything. By the end of it you’ll probably feel pretty full, and won’t really want to eat more.
It’s for the best if you limit your heavy eating to one day, as well. Depending on the holiday, try not to eat a bunch in the days before and after it, but rather just the day itself.
Don’t worry about going a little bit overboard on one single day. If you’re just eating heavily on Christmas day, you can do that. Relax and don’t worry about counting calories a bunch for that one instance.
If you’re really worried about going over for that one day, you can always make up for it in the future. For example, let’s say you go over your limit by 1000 calories one day. Instead of freaking out about it, just spend the next two days at an extra 500 calorie deficit or the next four days at a mere 250 calorie deficit.
As long as you’re eating lavishly in moderation, you’re going to be fine. It won’t be the end of the world if you’re a bit over for one day, but it will bite you pretty hard if you go way overboard for multiple days at a time.
Don’t Wait to Start Your Exercise Plans
One thing that messes with a lot of people’s fitness plans is the timing of it all. For some reason, people are always so worried about just starting their diet and exercise routines that they keep postponing it, often to a point where they’re months off of a schedule.
A lot of people try to synchronize the start of their fitness routine to some arbitrary thing. Some people have to have it starting on a Monday. Others won’t start it October, because Thanksgiving and Christmas are “right around the corner!”
So, instead, they wait until January, but not right on New Year’s because they’re celebrating on New Year’s. These excuses go on and on and months fly by, wasted, never having been used for a productive purpose.
Most people are guilty of this, or at least something like it. You need to put a stop to it, and just start getting into the routine of diet and exercise. Your routine doesn’t need to be 100% perfect, but it needs to start sooner rather than later.
The first day of going to the gym is always the worst one. If you’ve never been before, getting that first day out of the way now makes the weeks and months to come much easier. Additionally, gyms tend to be a bit sparser during the holiday season.
However, the gyms get packed once New Year’s hits. So, if you’re trying to go for the first time at the busiest times in January, instead of the less populated times in November, you’re going to have a worse time.
Instead, you should try to get used to and familiar with the gym ahead of time, that way when all the new people show up in January, you won’t have to worry about anything except for a slightly more crowded gym.
Getting ahead on your diet and everything else will help you start to lose weight, which can bring you even closer to what will eventually be your New Year’s resolution goal weight.
Going from 200 pounds down to 170 in a year is much more achievable than going from 240 down to 170. By coming closer to your goal before you even set it, you’re going to have a much easier time reaching it, and you’ll probably feel less pessimistic about it.
You might think about it this way- if you lose even five pounds before the holiday season, you at least have that much wiggle room to work with. If you gain five pounds throughout the holidays, you’re right back where you started instead of being worse off.
Stop procrastinating on getting in shape and just start a basic gym and diet routine. Don’t even worry about making it just perfect at the time being, just as long as you’re being active and making better dietary choices.
Best and Worst Holiday Foods
If you’re not inclined towards fitness and health, then what is and isn’t good for you to eat can be pretty confusing. You’ll hear a lot of mixed opinions and contradictory information, which can be stressful to sort through as a beginner.
By getting a good idea of what foods you should absolutely have and should be careful with, and why, you can get a decent idea of how other foods in your holiday lineup can affect your health.
The best foods that you’ll find around the holiday season is various vegetables. You’ll find carrots, squash, cream greens, broccoli, and more. These are often best done roasted in the oven with some various seasonings.
Another great holiday food you’ll find, of course, it meat. Turkey, chicken, roast, ham, and more all find their way onto holiday tables in abundance. Assuming it’s smoked or grilled and not deep fried, meat is an excellent choice for your holiday meal.
Smoked and grilled meats are high in protein, low in carbs and sugars, and taste great. They’re not very calorie dense, which is a good thing. It means that they’re more filling without being as high in calories.
Now, there are many foods you’ll come across during the holidays that aren’t very good for you at all. Granted, they taste very good, so you can have some, but try not to go overboard on anything that’s going to cause excessive weight gain.
First and foremost is sugary foods. Desserts, candy, and abundant at the end of each month from October through December. Pies, candy, and chocolate are all very high in sugar and should be eaten very lightly.
Hefty carb-loaded sides should be eaten very conservatively as well. Most commonly, you’ll find these in hearty casseroles, mashed potatoes, rolls and biscuits, and so on. Try to pair fairly small amounts of these with your meat of choice.
If you’re an adult, try to make it a point to stave off candy during Halloween and Christmas if you can. Leave more for the kids instead. If you’re trying to reach your goal of getting in better shape, the candy is going to be your worst enemy.
One of the less often noted things to avoid is high-calorie drinks. Sodas are an obvious one to avoid at all costs, but so is alcohol. Alcohol itself is high in calories, and mixing it into sodas is even worse.
Beers, wines, and liquor are all very high-calorie drinks. If you plan on drinking during the holidays when you’re with family, you should try to keep it pretty light. Drinking a bunch during those days will pack on the pounds very quickly.