Holiday weight gain is common. Between the rich foods and get-togethers, it can be difficult to stay on track with healthy eating habits. Yet, the holidays are often when we want to look our best.
No one wants to spend a joyful time of the year worried about how they look or counting calories. But what if you don’t have to gain holiday weight? Guess what! You don’t. Here are some ideas to consider that will keep you shining in your LBD all season long:
1. | Weight gain or bloating?
Many people gain holiday weight. Usually, though, it’s only between 1-2 pounds, which most people don’t notice. What most people see in the mirror is bloating. Great that it’s not long-term weight gain, but it’s a cold comfort when your favorite skinny jeans aren’t fitting properly.
The foods we tend to crave and eat during the holidays are higher in salt, which makes you retain more water. To avoid the holiday bloat, try to cut back on salty foods. Make sure you’re keeping up with your water intake. Also, when you do indulge in salty foods, focus on hydration even more. It helps flush out your system.
Pay attention to your fizzy drinks too! Champagne, sodas, and even sparkling water can cause bloating. Those bubbles can get trapped and leave your belly poochy, so even if you don’t gain holiday weight, it may look like it.
To read more about how Erin combats weight gain, click here.
2. | Track Your Weight
To make sure you’re avoiding holiday weight gain, try weighing yourself a couple of times a week. Make sure you do it first thing in the morning since your weight can fluctuate throughout the day. A morning weigh-in tends to be the most consistent over time.
By weighing yourself, you can see if the scale starts to creep up before the number overwhelms you. Then you can make those small, subtle changes during your day that will help you stay on track.
The key is to not become obsessed with the scale. You don’t need to do it every day. Just once or twice a week. If you find that you’re thinking about the number too much, use a well-fitting pair of pants to gauge your size instead.
3. | AM Exercise
Working out in the morning is another great way to keep the holiday weight off. And it may not be because of the reason you think. It’s not because the exercise counter-balances what you eat. It’s because exercising puts you in the mindset of making good choices.
When you begin your day with exercise, you start your day doing something good for your health. As a result, it makes it easier to continue to make better health decisions throughout the day. Therefore, when you’re confronted with the tray of cookies, you can resist – or just take one.
It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you choose. It can be yoga, running, or HIIT workouts. The important part is you’ve moved your body and reminded your mind that your health is a priority to you.
4. | Be a picky eater
As kids, we’re trained to not be picky eaters. And it’s great to enjoy a wide variety of foods and flavors. But there’s a benefit to being a little picky.
Being a picky eater lets you resist the foods that aren’t your favorites in exchange for really enjoying the foods that are. It’s not about being overly picky and refusing all food unless prepared exactly as you like it. It’s about being discerning about what you consume.
By holding out for the holiday foods that are the 9s and 10s on your “I love it!” scale, you are choosing what you love to eat and not mindlessly eating. The key is that not everything is actually a 9 or 10. What do you really love? Why? Try to get a little picky in your holiday eating preferences and enjoy what you do choose to eat.
5. | Journal or meditate
Sometimes holiday weight gain is not about the food. Sometimes it’s emotional. Whether we are eating because we miss our family or we want to get away from our family, the holidays can bring up some strong emotions. Try working on your emotions, so you don’t gain holiday weight.
Incorporating journaling or meditation into your life is a productive and healthy way to deal with those emotions. It also gives you insight into exactly what you’re feeling and why. Once you can identify those emotional triggers, it’s easier to handle them in the moment, and you won’t be so compelled to avoid the feelings in a bowl of artichoke dip. Or at least, you will have a stronger resistance against it.
Keep in mind, your practice doesn’t have to be long for you to reap the benefits. You just need to do it regularly. Find a few minutes each day (first thing in the morning or before bed is great) to reflect and sit with your thoughts.
Here's an article on how to begin a meditation practice.
6. | Start January now
The idea behind working on new goals at the beginning of the year is great- in theory. Everything is crisp and new and full of promise. The downside is most of us are exhausted and unmotivated as we leave the holiday season.
Consider starting your healthy habits or New Year’s Resolutions now. If you’re holding out on eating more healthy foods or starting to exercise for the new year, you’re missing an almost 8-week jump start on your goals. Think about it – There are 39 days between the day before Thanksgiving and Jan. 2. And only 4 of those days are considered “holidays.” That means there is around a month of days you could be using to make exceptional health choices for yourself.
If you go into the holidays already working toward a healthy eating goal, you won’t be thinking about depriving yourself in January. Instead, you’ll be thinking about what the best choices are that you can make right now.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of complete over-indulgence. They don’t have to be a time of total restriction either. To keep the holiday weight gain off, or to a minimum, practice being true to yourself. Find more joy in the people you’re with, not in the foods you’re eating. Your love for your people will fill you more than any dessert ever could.
What are your strategies to keep off the holiday weight? Let us know in the comments below.