Holiday weight gain.
It seems like an inevitable part of life, right?
From Halloween on, social gatherings with special seasonal foods and beverages seem to pop up every weekend. And who doesn’t have just a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out)? Missing out on celebrations, fabulous parties, and FOOD!
Between the endless socializing, big family meals, and warm sweaters that cover cold weather weight gain, it’s easy to enter the new year with a few extra pounds.
Indulge AND Maintain Your Weight
But winter weight gain is NOT inevitable! In fact, it’s simple to avoid – IF you’re prepared.
Believe it or not, I’ve actually lost weight between November and January for the past few years. I think because I’m hyperconscious of what lies ahead and how to plan ahead to avoid gaining weight, more so than at any other point during the year.
Does that mean I don’t enjoy myself? Heck no!
I, too, love a good Starbucks Peppermint Mocha, a big plate of turkey and gravy, and rich desserts that my family only makes at the holidays. I don’t deprive myself of these fun treats over the holidays. But I also don’t go overboard.
You don’t have to be a statistic that resolves to lose weight January 1st with 10 excess pounds from Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I’m arming you with my tips for how to maintain your weight and still enjoy those festive gatherings with family and friends:
How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1) Determine Your Calorie & Macronutrient Needs to Maintain Your Weight.
This can be estimated with calculators on sites like www.iifym.com, www.freedieting.com, or www.bodybuilding.com. These numbers don’t take into account some specific factors like your body type, and you’re left guessing which percentage to use for carbs, protein and fat. So if you want something really custom and specific, ask a trainer or fitness coach (like me!)
You may want to reduce the calorie intake number by 50-100 to cover those underestimated calories that come in homemade baked goods and holiday dinners, since you don’t know how they were made.
2) Track Your Calories/Macros
Don’t just know the numbers and guess. Weigh and measure foods, and use an app like MyFitnessPal and enter everything you eat. And start NOW to determine if these numbers really do work to help you maintain (or even lose!) weight. You can also start getting used to what is in foods, what proper portion sizes are, etc. This can be a great tool, especially on those party days.
For example, if you know you can eat 1600 calories per day and 185 carbs, then if you know you have a party in the evening where you’ll be eating appetizers and desserts and enjoying a glass of wine or champagne, then you can plan to leave, say 700 calories and 70 carbs for your evening out. With that in mind, as you track your food throughout the day, eating slightly smaller amounts than you normally would, and eat higher protein. Then you can safely indulge in a few sweets or snacks without drastically exceeding your calories and carbs for the day.
3) Don’t Starve Yourself
Just because you know you’ll be splurging one night doesn’t mean you should starve yourself earlier that day or the day before. Eat every 3-4 hours to keep your metabolism boosted and hunger at bay. Just eat small, balanced meals with some carbs, protein and fat to keep you satiated. That way, once you get to your party or dinner out, you won’t be ravenous and will be less tempted to eat as much junk. Don’t go to any event hungry or you’ll be sure to overdo it.
4) Drink LOTS of Water!
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Before you reach for snacks lying around home or at parties, drink a big glass of water. Even before you start feeling hungry, drink several glasses of water between meals to keep you satisfied and feeling full.
Also try to fill up on fruits and veggies during the day, full of water that will keep you feeling full without huge amounts of calories.
5) Decide What’s Most Important
One of the hardest things for me at the holidays is all of the options! So many fun foods that I may not see again for another year! No one wants to miss out on the festive foods, right? But just because they’re available doesn’t mean you have to eat them. And truly, some of those foods you’ll see over and over again long after the holidays. So, decide what is really special and what you really want to spend those calories on.
For instance, pumpkin pie is pretty much guaranteed at any gathering, but I personally don’t LOVE pumpkin pie. If someone gives it to me, I’ll probably eat it, though. So I remind myself ahead of time that I should turn it down, rather than have to face a decision in the moment. Instead, my game plan before a party is: enjoy some marshmallow-covered yams, chocolatey dessert, and a few sips of egg nog, and avoid the things that really aren’t a big deal. If I don’t think about it ahead of time, I guarantee I’ll fill my plate with a bit of everything and end up feeling bloated and horrible when I leave, regretting my “need” to over consume.
6) Schedule Your Workouts – and Don’t Skip Them
Make sure to get in a workout 3-5 days per week (ideally 5 if you’re already working out). Even if it’s just a quick high intensity 20 minutes at home, don’t let the busy days let you get off track. Keep burning those hundreds of calories per day to burn more than you’re consuming through working out, and so your metabolism stays boosted.
And plan ahead. If you plan to rest and indulge on Thanksgiving, for instance, then the day before hit the gym and add in an extra 30 minutes of cardio beyond what you would normally do to help make up for the additional calories. But don’t forget the weights! The more weight lifting, the better. (If you’re not sure what that means, watch this video for an easy workout to do that will help boost your metabolism and build muscle).
There you go – 6 simple tips for planning ahead so you can navigate this holiday season successfully without gaining weight. Enjoy those gatherings and treats that make this season extra special!
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