Between holiday parties and extra office treats, avoiding seasonal weight gain can be tricky, but it’s certainly not impossible.
Andy Waite CSCS, of the TriHealth Fitness and Health Pavilion, shares tips for keeping your waistline in check during the hectic holiday season.
#1: Enjoy it All, Just Less of It
Staving off holiday weight gain doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid your favorite treats, beverages, or seasonal dishes; it means you need to pay attention to how much of these foods you’re eating.
Instead, be selective and then have one serving. Or, if you want multiple different desserts, for example, grab a couple bites or slices of each. “As long as portion control is paid attention to and abided by, you can have a little bit of everything you want,” Andy points out.
He also says there are several free smartphone apps available for counting calories. This way, you can know – roughly – how many calories you’re taking in with each meal and snack.
#2: Avoid Mindless Snacking
While some nutritionists advise eating several small meals throughout the day, including snacks, Andy reminds people: “Essentially it boils down to calories in and calories out.” So if you're snacking frequently throughout the day, make sure to munch on nutrient-rich foods that will fuel your body, like fruits, vegetables, nuts (see labels for appropriate portion sizes), string cheese, or low-fat yogurt.
#3: Go for the Nutrients first
Andy says to go heavier on the lean proteins, like turkey or chicken, and vegetables during holiday meals.
He also suggests opting for vegetables that aren’t involved in casserole dishes, if possible. These dishes are often packed with sauces and other ingredients, adding empty calories.
#4: Make Exercise a Priority
Schedules are usually jam-packed during the holidays, so try exercising first thing in the morning to avoid getting sidetracked later. It doesn't need to be a full-body workout. “The main thing is to keep your heart rate up a little bit,” Andy explains.
#5: Exercise On-the-Go
If you travel to visit out-of-town family or friends over the holidays, it’s not always feasible to maintain your regular workout schedule. Andy suggests getting in a couple good workouts before you hit the road, and from there, incorporating exercise when possible. He says you can easily squeeze in physical activity by:
- Sightseeing by foot
- Bringing an exercise band, fitness DVD or other portable equipment
“Talk with someone at your gym or a fitness professional to help give you examples of exercises to do,” he adds. “You can pretty much do a full-body workout with one simple band.” Similarly, body weight exercises can be just as effective.