It is not inevitable that you will gain weight during the holiday. At this time every year I have an ongoing job to educate my clients not to pig out because it is Christmas. Most times I succeed but there are clients that have decided to make me nervous of our meeting in January. Rose is one of them. Throughout the year, she is the best client anyone could ask for. She follows her diet plan faithfully and comes to the gym for her work out every day. But, come December and she goes on a massive 3 week food and drink binge and by the time she comes back to the gym in the 3rd week of January, she has gained between 5-10 kg.
When she comes down from the scale she feels remorse and shame. Me? I have goose pimples and start thinking of all the things I want to say and do to her, with the exercise equipment’s at my disposal, of course. But then, she is a client and my job is to coach, encourage, train and make her succeed, so we start all over again.
This does not have to happen to you every year, you can still enjoy the holiday without packing in a ton of weights. I will be giving you proven strategies that will keep you from making those lovely needles on the scale to go up. The weight gain does not really start in December, most times it starts from November and peaks in December and 1st week of January. By the 15th of January, people come to their senses and remember they have a gym registration or that they have to do something about their weight and fast. If the weight you gain during the holiday is not taken care of, the number keeps adding up and eventually leads to a bigger weight problem.
But first why do you gain weight during the holiday?
- Parties everywhere
- Office parties, end of the year parties, employee appreciation parties, housewarming parties, wedding parties, birthday parties, welcome home party and of course “parties for the sake of it parties”. Everyone is having a party, everyone is expecting guests, you visit them and you bring goodies, they visit you and you serve goodies and enjoy as well. It seems as if nature itself is conspiring to make you gain weight. And if you are not careful, fat comes rolling in.
- Break time: Most offices go on break during Christmas. That means you do not have to dress up and impress, so you climb into your spouse big T-shirts and jeans. That’s a bad idea. After the holiday, you have to put on your office wears and you wonder, did it shrink in the spinner?
- It’s “normal to gain weight” mindset: Bears gain weight and hibernate during the cold weather, you are not a bear. It is not normal. Get a hold on yourself.
- The cold weather: During the holiday, most of the time the weather is cold. So you climb into layers of clothing. During the hot season, you wear light and tight clothes so every little change in your weight is easily noticeable by you and others. However, in cold weather, no one really notices if you are gaining weight or not because of the layering going on. This effectively hides any weight gain or telltale bulges.
- Travelling: Travelling can make you gain weight. When you travel it may disrupt your exercise and nutrition routine. You tell yourself that you will get back to it as soon as you get back. Before you get back the weight gain is there and you start working to lose it.
- Children are at home a lot and that means snacks in the fridge and everywhere else. When you go out, you buy snacks as take home gifts. The catch is that it won’t all end up in the kid’s tummy, some of them end up in your own.
- You are busy but not active: You shop for gifts and wrap them. You bake, cook, eat and make calls. You travel, entertain and socialize. Did any of this activity raise your heart rate and breathing rate? No.
The holiday brings together different family members with different temperament and expectations and this may lead to stress. Family issues and emotions run hay wire. For some people stomping out to sulk with comfort food that is readily available is a welcome solution.
- You skip breakfast: Rushing out to shop before everyone else will make you hungrier. Other people are thinking the same thing. So eat, before you go out. If you are in a hurry, wake up 15 minutes earlier. Eating breakfast will help stabilize your blood sugar and help you to make the right decision. If you go out without eating, it is sure to backfire and you may end up eating junk.
- You show up to a party, hungry: Do not show up for a party on an empty stomach. Most people go to a party, with the hope of eating there. You might be shocked to find out that the food is not ready. By the time the food makes its appearance you will be so ravenous you might even believe the food will not be enough for you. So you attack it, and go for not just 1, but 2 or 3 helping. This time eat something before going for a party.
- Overeating: Overeating at parties because you are not paying for anything is not a good idea. It will leave you with a nasty, bloated feeling the next day. Do not eat and drink everything you can lay your hands on because it is free even when your buttons are at the edge of bursting.
- Eating when you are not hungry: Everywhere you look you see hampers, cookies, chocolate and beautifully wrapped temptations calling your name. Refuse to answer even if it yells your name. Just because it is there does not mean you should eat it. If it becomes unbearable give it out or freeze it. Freezing it can take away the urge to eat it. When you bring it out and wait for it to get to room temperature, you will get back to your senses and put it back where it belong – in the freezer.
How to prevent holiday weight gain
Bear in mind that the holiday will come and go but you have to live with your body. Take the following steps to prevent weight gain.
- Eat breakfast: It is tempting to make a shopping list and to –do- list at night and rush off the next morning to accomplish them. The problem is that half way through your list you are going to get hungry. Not just hungry but the type of hunger that makes you take the wrong food decision even when everything in you is telling you it is wrong. Rushing out without eating can lower your blood sugar and bring on sugar craving. Try and eat something with protein and healthy fat. This will fill you up for a longer time and keep your blood sugar stable.
- Take healthy snacks with you: Keep healthy snacks in your bag all the time. Find a quiet place and sit down and eat them. Take boiled eggs, apples and healthy nuts to nibble on.
- Take bottled water with you: Your body cannot differentiate between hunger and thirst. Anytime you feel hunger pangs drink water, if you are still hungry after drinking water, eat something.
- Do not show up to any party hungry: Eat something before leaving for a party. You do not have to eat till you are full, just enough to keep you from going on a food binge at the party
- Exercise: You have more free time during the holiday, use it wisely. Do not stop working out because you are on holiday. Exercise. If you cannot make it to the gym. Workout on your own. You can also continue with the 30 day weight loss challenge workout at home when you cannot make it to the gym.
- Go to bed on time:Not getting enough sleep can trigger the stress hormone cortisol which leads to weight gain. Know when to excuse yourself politely and get some shuteye.
- Be mindful of what you are eating: When you eat and hold a conversation or browse, you will you eat more. Your food seems to disappear and you take more, your coffee gets cold, you pour more hot water, more coffee, sugar and cream and take more bread. Focus on your food, give it attention, chew and savor the different tastes of your food. This helps your brain to get the satiated message faster.
- Use smaller plates: Bigger plates makes food look smaller, smaller plates make small quantity of food look bigger. Use smaller plates.
- Concentrate on your guests not the food: The holiday is a time to reconnect with family and friends. Put your energy in meaningful conversation and making them feel special.
- Do not forbid foods: Forbidden things look more attractive including foods. Eat something if you really want it but in small quantity.
- Work out with your visitors: When you are preparing your holiday activity, make exercise part of it. Get your family and visitors involved. Show them what you have learnt, train them on exercises and healthy ways to prepare their food. Get them involved in preparing healthy and tasty meal in your kitchen
- Work out early in the morning: Wake up early, at least 30 minutes earlier. Work out and get it out of the way before other activities come up.
- Use the 30 day weight loss challenge: Keep using the Bellisima 30 day weight loss challenge workout, when you cannot make it to the gym. Increase the sets but use the reps the way it is. It will take you about 10 minutes to finish 5 sets of 20 reps of each exercise with 10 seconds rest in between reps.
- Get your family involved:
- Get your family especially the kids involved. This will be a good time to educate them about the dangers of obesity and how it can be prevented. Ask them to introduce one exercise which everyone will do.
- Set a goal for January: Wouldn’t it be fun to set a goal of fitting into that beautiful dress or a pair of beautiful trouser in January? That will help you stay focused and motivated to control your weight during the holiday
- Be good to yourself:
- The holiday is also a time of rest. Relax and pamper yourself by going for that massage you have been promising yourself. Go to a quiet place and meditate. Get a piece of paper and write down all the things and people you are grateful for. Call them or send a thank you message. Look back on things you have been able to achieve this year and congratulate yourself ( but not with food)
It is your life take control of it, after all you will be the one battling with the weight not the friend you were trying to please by not refusing a second helping. You are in control, take care of yourself. Just because most people gain weight during the holiday season does not mean you have to be one of them. It is possible to lose weight in the holiday season. Follow the steps and see what will happen.
I will like to hear from you. How do you plan to achieve your health and wellness goal during the holiday? Leave your comments below