Navigating Holiday Weight Gain
Year over year weight gain is strongly linked to holiday weight gain. Individuals who gain weight (1lbs or more) tend to gain weight year over year and over the long term. Obese individuals tend to gain 3-4x more weight over the holidays which leads to more weight gain year over year. Navigating the holidays can be a challenge for many, here are 10 strategies I employ to get myself and my clients through the holidays.
1. Acknowledge calories matter, eating eat too many does have consequences in the long run, Christmas is only a couple of days. However many case studies have shown you can gain lasting fat in as little as a day if you consume 3-4x your normal calories in a day. Aim to eat a normal and reasonable amount of food, I call it "your fair share". Don't spoil yourself or eat without thought or control.
2. Realize you've created a foundation of healthy habits, one day won't change that. Rely on hunger cues and eat a meal if hungry, try to rely on the knowledge you've gained to plan whole meals and to intuitively judge the nutritional value of the food you're eating, you don't get days off from healthy habits, if you're taking time off from healthy/balanced eating, its not yet a habit.
3. When you feel hungry eat protein rich foods, don't snack, eat a meal, drinking too much water will likely make you more hungry and dehydrated, don't drink water because you feel hungry, eat a balanced meal high in fibre and protein.
4. Don't eat to occupy your hands or mouth while socializing, hold a glass of water or unseated beverage instead, sip on it, lots of us eat because we are nervous or don't like socializing.
5. If you want something, eat it, there are no foods that make you fat, creating false dichotomies of good and bad foods helps no one, see #1. Part of a healthy/balanced diet is knowing that foods don't make you fat, excess energy and low nutrient content can lead to over eating and excess wait gain, occasional treats, aren't going to mess with your waistline or your health. A positive mindset that acknowledges this can be liberating and reduce holiday stress.
6. Don't punish yourself for "failing" this only makes you eat for emotional reasons out of remorse or self pity, see #2 you cant get fat in a day, but if you beat yourself up you can fall off for weeks, be confident in the habits you've built.
7. If you know certain situations will cause your to over eat, seek support from those around you, suggest putting chips in the kitchen, etc. Again we don't want to be eating emotionally or out of nervousness. Certain people and situations are triggers, remove yourself from the situation or seek support.
8. Don't try to burn off the holiday weight gain, that is a form of disordered eating, trying to burn off excess calorie intake with extra exercise is non-purging bulimia, get back on your normal routine, you didn't get fat in a day or 2, you're just a little backed up, bloated and water logged, give it a few days of being back on track.
9. Go lift something heavy, set a personal best at something and celebrate your wins, see #8. Being strong changes the lens you look at yourself through. Like I mentioned in #8 don't try to "burn off" the excess weight, however there is nothing wrong with putting the extra calorie to good use to set some personal bests, power an amazing workout and spend a little extra time working on some skills, again the way we frame our choices plays a big role in how we see ourselves and our habits.
10.More positive self talk, you're awesome, you're strong and food doesn't control you.
Have a safe and happy Holiday!
Dino Camire is a business owner, author and speaker. 15 years in the fitness industry he has helped thousands improve their health for life. Check out his gym onefamilyfitness.com and supplement line bodiesbyscience.net Come back often for sceptical health and fitness content!