November 2, 2011
Waistlines, mirrors, jeans and scales. At this time of the year, those are not among our favorite things. Parties, festive meals, late night drinking, office snacking, and lack of time to exercise soon will soon be upon us. It’s time – right NOW – to prepare.
After all, it's been a very successful year -- you and your trainer have spent all year exercising, and have focused on waist-to-hip ratios, body mass index, body fat percentage measurements. Now comes the Fall and that all too typical holiday weight gain dread begins to set in. While we don’t typically gain as much weight as we fear we will, the difficulty is that many don’t lose the small amount of weight they do gain.
3 tips to avoid common holiday weight gain:
So here are 3 very specific tools you can begin using right now to avoid the common weight gain and fitness concerns that November brings.
- Find ways to increase your activity and movement, if not actually increase your exercise. Wear a pedometer. You may not have the ability to spend more time at the gym, so find every imaginable way to increase your activity, even if it seems silly -- it keeps your mindset focused in the right direction. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so that means a 200-pound person walking three miles per day even at a moderate pace for one week can burn about 2,300 calories.
So park further away from your office, always take the stairs, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart, if possible, and turn your house cleaning into pumped up aerobic activity. Dance, skip and hop while you vacuum! Flying somewhere? Take a jog around the airport. Driving a long distance? Use a gas or food break to take a vigorous, 100 steps per minute walk for ten minutes. Schedule your training sessions now for throughout the holiday season and commit to meeting friends and co-workers at the gym on any day there is an office party.
- Party and eat healthy and smart. That means eating more fruit, more protein and less refined carbs. Interesting gossip going on over at the buffet? Stay away from the dangerous nibbling that goes on unconsciously. Sure, go to the buffet line, but be sure when you leave it, you are leaving with fresh veggies, lean meats and other lower calorie goodies. While the stores are filled with delicious treats, avoid the temptation at home and leave those chocolate covered popcorn bags in the store. Whatever else you do, be a dessert splitter. Those cupcakes are going to look great. Small, cute, only 500 calories! Don’t deprive yourself though. Allow yourself one small serving of your favorite treat and be as mindful as possible as you savor the look, taste and aroma of whatever it is that you “must have.”
- THINK smart. Plan your eating before you go out and stick to your plan. People have all sorts of unhelpful, irrational thoughts about food, diet, weight loss, especially around the holidays. “Watching what I eat should be easy.” “It’s not okay to waste food.” “If I get hungry, the hunger will get worse and worse until I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make cravings go away.” “It’s okay to eat this food because I’m stressed, everyone else is eating it, it’s just a little piece and I’ll make up for it later.” “I’ve already blown it so it doesn’t matter what else I eat.” It’s important to ask yourself what evidence you have that any of these thoughts, or others you may have, are true. They aren’t. They are just thoughts. Before you go out with your food plan, have a strong response counter thought plan to each of your sabotaging, unhelpful thoughts and be sure you use them immediately.
There you have it — three steps to getting through the holidays, starting now. Getting through to New Year’s in great shape and health depends on these three pillars of healthy lifestyle — insuring enough activity, eating properly and thinking wisely.
Michael Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, here he wrote his thesis on obesity. He’s served as the Chief Psychologist of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and the Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He provides breakthrough strategies to help business leaders, athletes, individuals and families create healthy, fit and happy trajectories in life. He is the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for ACE, an international behavior science fitness presenter, an Advisor to numerous companies and fitness organizations, on the Sports Medicine team of The Sporting Club of San Diego and is featured in many international media outlets. He is listed in the greatest.com 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”