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The Truth about Holiday Weight Gain

Millions of Americans will once again gain those extra lb.s over the holidays.

For many it’s an expected gain that comes along with the season. “Oh I always pack on a few winter pounds.”

It seems almost American that we overeat too often and exercise too little this time of the year. Between holiday parties or colder weather the motivation to workout becomes smaller and less frequent. The excuses become easy to find and then we start packing layers of clothes on to hide the fact that we are neglecting our bodies. The mentality is, “I’ll worry about it in the new year.”

While the holiday weight gain is not always dramatic, getting rid off the extra pounds afterwards can be a real challenge.

“Americans probably gain only a pound during the winter holiday season — but this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life,” finds one study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In other words, even a little uptick in body weight each holiday season can add up over time until it becomes a potential health problem.

For people who are already overweight the situation can be worse. Research done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that the average weight increase in this group was as much as five times higher. “These results suggest that holiday weight gain may be an important contributor to the rising prevalence of obesity,” the NCBI study concluded.

Yikes that is scary!

If you are a member at Crave you may have had your body fat taken when you became a member or perhaps recently. If the results were higher than normal body fat percentage then you fall into this catergory.

Men this generally above 20% and women above 32%.

Most Americans who gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve generally don’t lose that weight ever again, says also Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Some meals people eat during the holidays can add up to 2,000 calories or more, according to Dr. Oz, so they could actually put on an extra pound every day if they keep indulging like this. Once they become used to the higher calorie intake, it may seem like normal and they continue on that level.

So what can be done to prevent us from falling into the same trap year after year?

You may not want to start a diet in these months because it would be your most challenging start date but there are plenty of ways you can combat the weight gain, enjoy the holidays and avoid becoming a statistic for obesity.

#1 is keeping the snacks out of the house. Do not buy the gingerbread cookies from Trader Joe’s. If someone sends you the giant tin of popcorn grab a serving and then donate it or even re-gift it. LOL. Often these types of snacks are welcomed at book club, bible study, kid’s play date. Take the snacks and leave them. Try only indulging in holiday favorites if you are out.

Beware of calorie-dense drinks like eggnog, which can have 350 calories or more per glass. Avoid those holiday creamers being in the fridge. Every little bit adds up. Have your Starbucks indulgence once this month and then move on!

When you attend a party where lots of food will be served, “ruin your appetite” before you get there. Rather than arriving hungry, grab a protein and veggie snack, maybe some almonds about 30 minutes to an hour prior to your party so when you get there you can choose just a few finger foods instead of devouring the whole spread.

Also, don’t forget to maintain your exercise schedule between your partying. In fact, you may want to increase your workout efforts a bit for counterbalance. If you want to indulge you’re going to need to work for it. And guess what? You’ll appreciate it more and feel less like a slug for having all those cheat foods. Nothing is better than earning your cookies!

Last but not least, don’t forget to get enough sleep. Your full social calendar can wreak havoc on your body. Lack of sleep results in exhaustion and that can contribute to weight gain as well because you are less likely to exercise when you’re tired, more susceptible to getting sick which keeps you away from the gym and the cortisol levels that regulate weight loss or gain will be out of wack and can work against you.

The more you are aware of your “weaknesses,” the easier it will be to work around them. Always have a plan ready for how much you are willing and able to consume without having to deal with dire consequences later.

Remember that the holidays are primarily there to reconnect with family and friends and to celebrate good times. Enjoying delicious food is certainly part of that, but it shouldn’t be the main focus. Instead of standing around the buffet, you can hit the dance floor, or simply enjoy a good conversation with old friend.

Happy Holidays!

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