Tis the season for holiday parties, office treats, and overindulgence. According to a study by PubMed, 195 subjects were studied and weighed pre-holiday (September through mid-November), holiday (mid-November through mid-January), and post-holiday (mid-January through late February), and the results showed that subjects had a significant weight gain during the holiday period, versus pre-holiday and post-holiday. The study also showed that the weight gain was not reduced during the months thereafter, resulting in more weight gain the following holiday season, which can lead to the common increase of body weight that occurs during adulthood.
Don't fret. You can still enjoy the holiday season with some balance and moderation.
1. Exercise: You don't have to commit to a 1 hour workout, but do a little something throughout the day. Jumping rope for 10 minutes, doing some push-ups and dips, going for a brisk walk, dancing like no one is watching, Googling a short workout, or visiting Most-Fit.com to see a variety of workouts that you can do at home, at the park, or in the office, will give you ideas to stay busy. Doing a little something throughout the day will keep your energy level up while burning calories. Not only that, exercise is a mood enhancer, which reduces stress and can lead to better decision-making choices throughout the day. When our bodies get stressed and tired, or when the holiday blues kick in, we are often drawn to comfort foods such as something sweet, caffeinated, salty, or processed. Combat those cravings by staying active.
2. Practice Yoga: Yoga not only keeps the body and mind strong and flexible, it is a mindfulness practice that shifts one out of sympathetic mode/fight or flight, and in to parasympathetic mode, which is the rest and digest mode of our nervous system. The top benefits of doing yoga include increased strength, flexibility, focus, concentration, and reduced stress. It's a win win. Not flexible? No worries. Flexibility is only one tiny aspect of yoga. You can practice yoga while eating, being aware of chewing your food, tasting it, not having other distractions. You can also practice yoga by taking a deep breath in, pausing at the top of the inhale: exhaling, pausing at the bottom of the exhale.
Want to try yoga, but don't know where to start? Check out Yogaglo.com and stream a meditation, a flow sequence, or any other practice your heart desires. You can find a 5-minute sequence to a 90-minute sequence.3. Drink Lots of Water: Dehydration is often confused for hunger and water helps to control calories! By drinking 8-10 glasses of water throughout the day, your body will experience less dips, like the one most of us get around 4 o'clock, where we are looking for something sweet or caffeinated. Being hydrated also prevents overeating. Take a 32-ounce bottle everywhere you go so you can monitor how much you are drinking. Fill it up twice a day and you're right on track. Water also helps digestion and elimination. Read more benefits of drinking water from Web Md here.
4. Don't Go to a Party Starving: Going to a party starving is like going grocery shopping when you are starving. You buy everything in sight and want to eat it ALL. Skipping meals only sets you up for a binge later because you are famished. Chances are your blood sugar has dropped, your stomach is growling, you might be dehydrated, so you are more susceptible to eating anything and everything. Make sure you eat protein throughout the day and before the party so you don't over-indulge on tiny little treats that are full of saturated fat, salt, sugar and empty calories.
5. Watch your Alcohol Consumption: Sure it's time to enjoy the festivities and have a glass of wine or champagne to celebrate, but alcoholic beverages are full of sugar and empty calories. Alcohol is also classified as a depressant because it slows down the central nervous system. The average beer or glass of wine has approximately 120 calories in it. Multiply that by 4 and that's the equivalent of a hearty meal with low nutritional values.
Spread your drinks out and prevent dehydration by drinking a glass of water or club soda for every alcoholic drink you have. Please be responsible. Don't drink and drive.
Other links on ways to prevent holiday weight gain: