The holidays are upon us again. Where did the year go? The holiday season began on Halloween (candy, anyone?) and ends around January 2nd. During this time, most people look forward to the endless stream of parties, football games, get-togethers, and gatherings, all of which means food, and lots of it. That also means the dreaded holiday weight gain. Did you know that the average person gains 7 pounds during the holidays? That doesn’t have to be you. There are steps you can take to have fun while avoiding putting on the pounds.
- Stay Active. Exercise. Every day. Get up and exercise first thing in the morning. Go to a kick-boxing class after work. Take a walk on you lunch break. Form a walking group at work or with your neighbors. Go to the neighborhood gym and get a free 1 week pass and try out the classes and equipment. Walk 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes after work. Swim laps at the community pool. Is the weather bad? Walk the nearest indoor shopping mall and enjoy the holiday window displays. Lift weights or do floor pilates while watching your favorite evening television show. There’s no excuse not to exercise. You have to burn off those calories from all of that food and drink in order to prevent the weight gain.
- Mini-meals. Eat small, frequents meals throughout the day. This will keep your blood sugar level steady and your energy level high, which will prevent you from getting ravenous and wanting to eat everything in sight.
- Eat Breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast are more likely to succeed at long-term weight loss. Also, eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism for the day and prevents overeating later in the day.
- Fill up on produce. Every mini-meal should have some kind of fruit and/or vegetable. These foods are low-calorie, high-fiber, and high-water, which means you’ll feel full on less calories. An added bonus is that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and many forms of cancer.
- Go for the whole-grain goodness. Whole grains are good for the heart and may help erase belly fat. These high-fiber foods, like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice, fill you up. Just don’t overdo the portion size. One serving of whole-grain is ½ cup (cooked). Aim for 3-5 servings of whole grains a day.
- Be a lean, mean fighting machine with lean protein. Protein helps to keep your blood sugar level steady, when eaten with your produce and whole-grains. You need a little bit of protein at each mini-meal, between one and three ounces. Your best sources are fish, beans, soy, skinless chicken and turkey breast meat.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water, herbal, or green tea throughout the day. How much should you drink? The old rule was eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. But that doesn’t apply to everyone. Some need more (like athletes) and some can get away with less. Check the color of your urine. If it’s clear or very pale yellow, then you’re hydrated. Any darker than that, then reach for a glass of water and drink up. Also, drinking a glass of water or tea before you eat will help fill up your stomach so that you eat less.