We are right smack in the middle of the holiday season with increased time requirements and food temptations. Every year for the past 3 decades, Americans have gained weight. It is easy to eat badly and skip workouts. In fact, two studies drive home the problem of holiday weight gain.
Research by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging revealed that 51% of annual weight gain occurs during the holiday season. Winter weight gain is believed to be an important contributor to our nation’s obesity epidemic (Nutr Rev 2000;58(12):378-9). A National Institutes of Health study also showed that holiday weight gain is usually not lost during the spring or summer months. Therefore, winter weight gain significantly contributes to increases in body weight that frequently occur during adulthood (N Eng J Med 2000;342(12):861-7). The holidays are a time for celebration of loved ones and traditions, but it does not have to include getting fat (or fatter). Celebrating traditions, friends and family does not mean accepting defeat with your health and fitness. Although some discuss this issue almost as if we’ve come to accept that we are going to put on 10 pounds during each holiday season, our destiny in this regard is in our control.
Here is a plan of attack for enjoying the holidays with regretting what it has done to your fitness on January 2nd.
- Buy healthful foods. Make healthful snack handy. The more convenient they are, the more likely you are to eat them. Instead of thinking about what you shouldn’t eat, promise to eat your 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Don’t skip meals. Becoming overly hungry just sets you up for overeating. Make time for a light, fiber-rich breakfast and lunch (including carbohydrate, protein, and fat) to keep you comfortable until dinner and help avoid over-consuming food later in the day.
- Don’t take a vacation from working out. Schedule your workouts. Because your schedule will be very hectic this holiday season, deliberately carve out time to work out. Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment. If you miss class, make sure that you get some activity in at least three days per week. The Colonel’s Fitness Program has given you workouts that you can do almost anywhere with little to no equipment.
- Engage your mind before you stuff your mouth! Shun the junk food. Without being purposeful, it is very easy to lose track all that you are putting down you gullet. It’s in the office, it’s in friends’ and family’s homes, it’s in samples at the grocery story. You probably aren’t aware how much extra food you consume just from people offering it to you.
- Stand down on the baking. Do you make baked goods for giving? Chances are you eat much of what you bake. Who wouldn’t? Instead make non-food gifts, or prepare ingredients for baked goods and put them in pretty jars–let your gift recipient bake it up. That way, they can eat it when they want it and you don’t have to be tempted in the kitchen.
- Hydrate. Keep your water bottle with you at all times. You should be drinking eight, 8-oz glasses of water each day. One handy trick is to buy a 64 ounce water jug. Fill it up in the morning and know that you need to finish it by the end of the day. Keep hydrated, but go easy on the alcohol, as it adds 150 calories per drink.
Colonel Brian Sulc designed and developed the Colonel’s Fitness Program from more than 32 years of experience in fitness. His experience involves the most important aspects of running an organization, including leadership, management, personal training, and group exercise instruction. He understands that leadership develops relationships with clients by listening to and understanding their needs, challenging them, motivating them and ensuring that they are getting what they need (which is not always what they think they want!).
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