FEATURE – The holidays can be a challenging time for those trying to lose weight, or just maintain healthy habits. In this Q-and-A, Healthy Lifestyles founder Dr. Coleen Andruss offers suggestions on how to thrive on wellness and avoid diet demolition this holiday season.
- What are some tips to prevent extra weight gain through the holidays?
First of all, remember that the holidays aren’t all about the food; they’re about about being with family and friends you love! Do we really need to make 15 pies for 25 people? Do we really need all those appetizers before the main course?
Plan your meal carefully so you don’t end up with five times the amount of food you need, and put it away when the meal is done. When it’s sitting out on the table, people will graze. Hand out the leftovers as people leave so they aren’t left in your refrigerator. Go for an enjoyable family walk around the block to clear your mind and rev up your energy.
- Why might the holidays be a good time to start a weight-loss program?
The holidays are actually the best time to start a weight-loss program. Studies show that the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in an individual who is not actively trying to lose weight is 7 pounds. Therefore, if you wait until after the holidays to get serious, you will have an extra 7 pounds in addition to what you already had to lose. Plus, psychologically it is hard for people to get back on track when they are in “sugar mode” and disappointed in themselves after holiday gorging.
- How can you stay on track with your health goals through the holidays?
Put reminders on the refrigerator or a mirror: “Be good”; “small bites”; “avoid sugar”; “eat slow”; “drink lots of water.” Photos of what you look like heavy and food diaries are always helpful. If you are at a holiday gathering, always have a glass of water in one hand and never stand by the food table. Eat something healthy before going to a big holiday dinner so that you don’t stuff yourself with unhealthy food. Focus on lean protein choices or vegetable and fruit trays.
- Is it okay to “cheat” on special days (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s?)
If you are perfectly strict every day, and you treat only those days as holidays, then it is okay to cheat a little, but within reason. This does not mean gorging or binging. When the holidays become every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it turns into a huge issue.
- Is there any way to boost metabolism during the holidays?
Drinking water, eating the right balance of foods and exercising all help, but rather than looking to boost metabolism over the holidays, look for ways to not let it slow down. Don’t be a couch potato. Don’t overdo on sweets and starchy carbs. Don’t stress. Get enough sleep. Remember the five pieces to the weight-loss puzzle: Good nutrition, good sleep, low stress, lots of water and exercise. If one or two of these pieces are missing, the whole thing will fall apart. Make that puzzle stay together through the holidays!
- What exercises can be done indoors if it’s too cold outside?
Any movement is important. You should do any kind of activity indoors that brings your heart rate up mild to moderately for a minimum of 30 minutes. It may be an aerobic video or calisthenics, or buying that elliptical machine for Christmas that you have always wanted. Floor exercises are also important. Invest in an exercise ball and do core work on it. This is one of the best things you can do to tone up those abs, so that when you lose the fat through better eating, the muscles will already be developed.
- How often should you weigh yourself?
It really depends on how well you understand weight loss. If someone weighs themself daily and doesn’t understand that there can be a lot of variability from day to day, they are in deep emotional trouble. Water weight can come on very quickly, and fat weight does not come off overnight, so daily weighing can be hazardous if you are not cognizant of those factors.New studies are saying weigh once or twice per week, which is really ideal. When you weigh, it is important to write it down. Writing down your weight and making a chart is best.
- How does alcohol consumption during the holidays affect weight gain?
Moderation is the key. It is best not to drink your calories, as these are empty calories. If you choose to have an alcoholic beverage, it needs to be considered your carbohydrate for your meal. If it is in a non-meal setting, at least try to have some protein with it in order to stabilize the blood sugar level after consumption.
- What can we do to support loved ones on their weight-loss journey during the holidays?
Being supportive means not eating a bowl of ice cream in front of the individual who is trying to lose weight; it means not baking cookies and cakes and leaving them on the counter. Being supportive means taking a walk with that person. Being supportive means encouragement and positive words, and “following the plan” with them. Sometimes a helping hand can make all the difference.
‘Tis the season to give the gift of wellness!
St. George Health & Wellness magazine provides St. George and surrounding areas with a contemporary, high-energy publication for young adults, families and seniors interested in wellness, recreation and outdoor living.
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