Thanksgiving is behind us but many more holiday parties, end-of-year dinners and family get-togethers lie ahead.
The National Institutes of Health estimates the average American adult gains one pound during the holidays, so it’s important to understand how to keep from sabotaging your healthy progress from the past year.
“If we’ve already established a healthy lifestyle, based around activity and quality eating there’s very little impact of two or three big meals during the holidays,” says Bill Hartman, Physical Therapist and Co-Owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training (IFAST).
IFAST has been named one of the “Top 10 Gyms in America” three times by Men’s Health magazine. Clients include professional athletes, like Roy Hibbert and the Indy Eleven, as well as athletes from almost all professional sports.
IFAST co-owner and President of Robertson Training Systems, Mike Robertson, says the first trick to preventing holiday weight gain is to join a gym now – don’t wait until the new year.
“It might seem counter-intuitive, but the thing that you see is people who join now are super-motivated, so they come in, they get a great head-of-steam going and when the first of the year rolls around, then they’re already rolling,” says Robertson.
For someone who is already exercising regularly, Robertson encourages them to stick to their current routine with the focus of maintaining hard-won progress.
“There are times when you’re really trying to make progress, then there are just times when you dial back and you’re just trying to maintain,” says Robertson. “This is a time you try to maintain because you’re just not setting yourself up in a really good environment to see significant weight loss.”
Another trick for keeping holiday weight gain at bay is to keep a food log. Research suggests people who keep a food diary six days a week lose about twice as much weight as those who keep food records one day a week or less.
“If you’re only eating excess food on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and one or two holiday parties, then it’s not that big of a deal, but if you’re literally eating sweets and candies every single day, then that’s where it tends to accumulate on you,” says Robertson. “The food log helps you keep a general idea of what you’re eating.”
The IFAST team suggests enjoying yourself but getting back on track the very next day after a big meal.
“People have this tendency to think that ‘well, I’ve already ruined my plan, I might as well just go for it’ — but the reality is you don’t have to feel that way. Enjoy yourself, and then get back on the program,” says Hartman.
For other quick tips to keep from sabotaging your healthy progress:
1. Establish an at-home workout for busy days when you can’t make it to the gym.
2. Incorporate more physically active events with your family.
3. Always plan ahead and never go to a party hungry.
4. Use smaller plates for meals and ensure half of the plate is filled with greens.
5. Drink plenty of water to help you feel full.