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How to prevent holiday weight gain

How to prevent holiday weight gainIt’s that time of year again.Most large fall races are over and the holiday season is upon us. We spend less time running and more time eating, which often leads to a very unwanted holiday guest: weight gain.

The average person gains 1-2 pounds in the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, while people who are overweight tend to put on a little more on average. A pound or two doesn’t seem like much, but the problem is that we rarely lose this extra weight so it adds up year after year. Losing weight – and maintaining that weight loss – is no easy task, so it’s best to avoid holiday weight gain all together.

This approach, of course, doesn’t sound fun at all, especially when pumpkin pie and other delectable treats are within arm’s reach. However, avoiding extra pounds doesn’t mean you’ll have to say “no” to all of your favorite holiday goodies. These simple strategies can help keep holiday weight gain at bay:

  • Focus on short, intense workouts. When you’re crunched for time, do speed workouts or hill repeats. These intense workouts burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than steady state runs.
  • Sign up for a resolution run. Register to run a New Year’s Day or early January race. Having a race on the calendar will help you stay consistent with running during the hectic time of year.
  • Do some activity every day. Some days, you may not have an extra half hour to take your running shoes out for a spin. So, just focus on staying active. Move as much as you can during the day – do as many errands on foot as possible and take the stairs over the elevator. If you have any down time, do a few sets of lunges or jumping jacks – anything to get your heart pumping.
  • Load up on healthy foods. It may be tempting to skip lunch in order to “save” your calories so you can eat more during holiday dinners. But this approach is a recipe for disaster. Skipping meals will leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat and choose more fattening foods when you finally eat. Instead, fill up on fruits, vegetables, and other foods high in fiber before you head to the gathering.
  • Only indulge in your favorite foods. If Aunt Kathy’s “famous” sweet potato casserole has never been your cup of tea, don’t allow it on your plate. Only eat the indulgent foods you really look forward to every year.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Holiday cocktails and festive coffee beverages often contain as many calories as indulgent desserts. If you can’t resist a spiced cider or peppermint mocha, have it in place of – not in addition to – pie or cobbler.
  • Don’t dwell on slip-ups. If you overindulge the whole weekend or skip exercise sessions for an entire week, don’t consider the whole holiday season a wash. Instead, acknowledge the slip-up and start fresh by making healthy food choices and resuming workouts as soon as possible.

Do you have trouble sticking with your fitness and eating habits during the holidays?

Written by Jen Matz.