Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Combating holiday weight gain

Battling the bulge this season


Atten-SHUN! The holiday season is upon us, and do you know what that means? The battle of the bulge has officially begun. There will be cakes and cookies and pies. There will be mashed potatoes made with butter and cream. There will be "Grandma's secret recipes" and other delectable things that you only get to eat this time of year, and you will feel obligated to eat all of it.

You will be tempted! But this doesn't have to end with your starting the new year with a figure more Santa-like than svelte. Like any battle, this requires you to have a plan of action, a way to navigate through the dangerous (and dangerously delicious) minefield that lies before you. Fortunately for you, this is a well-trodden path, and those who have gone before you are willing to share their wisdom.

The First Holiday Hurdle: Rich Foods

So much tradition is tied to the foods that are served this time of year. You don't have to be a grinch and say no to everything, but you do need to make choices. If you are staring down a display of holiday treats, think about which one you would gain the most pleasure from. Savor it, and move on.

John McGran, a writer for the online weight-loss community SparkPeople, advises, "Keep your eye on the prize, a slimmer you! Mindful snacking is one way to weigh less without stress." Are those cookies you're about to eat really worth all the time on the treadmill you'll have to put in to balance them out?

When it comes to alcohol, McGran has more words of wisdom: "Imbibe with caution. Alcohol accomplishes two negatives: extra calories without nutrition and a relaxing of inhibitions. You need all your willpower to resist the cheese dips and fried snacks, so staying sober is a good strategy." His strategy? Drink club soda with lime. Not only is it a low-calorie treat but also "it's harder to eat with one hand wrapped around a glass."

The Second Holiday Hurdle: Parties

One of the best things about the holiday season is the chance to get together with friends and family. Unfortunately, most of these celebrations are loaded with the aforementioned rich and highly caloric foods. You don't have to skip the socializing; just be prepared to battle the buffet. Susan G. Rabin of WebMD cautions that you never should go to a party hungry. She recommends you "try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate." This will help to curb your appetite. Additionally, "when dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story." This will keep you from loading up on calories unnecessarily. Make sure you don't spend the whole party by the food. It's easy to keep eating when it's right there. Circulate and stay out of the kitchen.

The Third Holiday Hurdle: No Time To Exercise

Let's face it; the holidays are a hugely disruptive time of year, and even the best of intentions have a way of getting pushed aside. If you find yourself unable to keep with your regularly scheduled exercise, weight-loss company Jenny Craig suggests you fit it in with what you already are doing. At the mall? Park at the far end of the lot, and take a couple of laps before the holiday shopping begins. An added bonus, you could get some great ideas for gifts. At home? Jenny Craig advises, "Put on your favorite holiday CD, and dance around with your children." That will not only put you in the holiday mood but also get your heart rate up and your blood flowing.

Some final advice from McGran: "Moderation is the key to enjoying a fun and healthy holiday season." If you overindulge one night at dinner, don't beat yourself up over it. One heavy meal will not send the scales tipping, but multiple heavy meals will, so don't make the same mistakes over and over again throughout the holiday season. Remember, all the effort you put forth now you will reap the benefits from in January!

Copyright 2010

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