Half of the weight you gain over the Christmas period sticks around until the summer, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. Not quite a lifetime on the hips, but certainly longer-term consequences than that moment of pleasure is worth.
Learning to exercise self-control even during the holidays will help you protect your weight loss results and maintain them long-term.
Here are Dr. David Chappell’s eight top tips for maintaining your weight loss while making the most of the holidays:
1. Start the day well.
A healthy breakfast, rich in fiber will keep you fuller for longer, helping you say no to snacks and treats, and line your stomach for those impromptu liquid lunches.
2. Keep track.
Many studies show that it is easy for us to underestimate how many calories are in the food that we eat and overestimate how many calories we burn during exercise. These miscalculations can quickly add up to a surplus of energy intake, which leads to laying down fat. To stay in control, keep track of your energy in and energy out with fitness trackers and apps designed to help. And record everything, even when you would rather not know how many calories really were in that croquembouche.
3. Keep moving.
With all the social engagements and extra items on our to-do lists, your regular exercise regime might drop down in your list of priorities. Some exercise is better than none, so fit in what you can. If it’s 15 minutes instead of your usual 45, take the 15. Don’t drop the workout altogether. Stop worrying about what you haven’t done, and think about what you are doing now.
4. Indulge yourself, but make it worth it.
Christmas is a time to indulge a little in the finer things in life. The operative word, though is little. Totally depriving yourself while everyone else parties the season away can be demoralizing, but abandoning all self-control can be disastrous. Make sure you allow yourself to say yes to your ultimate dessert, a few glasses of champagne, or the cheeseboard. To make your indulgences really count, say no to the ones you could take or leave, and consciously savor the treats you choose.
5. Get enough sleep.
The holiday season is full of excuses to burn the midnight oil. Your social calendar will be teeming with family events, the office Christmas party, and gala dinners. Between real life and all these additional social engagements, sleep can take a hit. Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the production of hormones that control appetite and satiety signals, leaving you less likely to say no to snacks or sugary pick-me-ups.
6. Manage your stress.
It may the season to be jolly, but parties, Christmas expenses and family politics can also lead to an increase in stress. Learn to say no to social engagements and make time for enough “R and R” to combat these stresses.
7. Be prepared.
Don’t find yourself regretting pigging out at the buffet table or ordering take out on the way home from after work drinks. Always have healthy snacks on hand to curb cravings, and eat a healthy balanced meal before going out.
8. Avoid a liquid diet.
Alcohol can impact your weight in multiple ways. First, it contains a lot of empty calories. Second, it is often mixed with sugary juices or sodas. Third, it lowers inhibitions and affects your decision-making, leaving you open to indulging in temptations you would otherwise avoid. Set yourself a drink limit before you go out, and stick to it. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water, and opt for low-calorie and low-sugar options like clear liquor and a sugar-free mixer or a glass of champagne.
Feel free to enjoy yourself
The holidays are for enjoying time with friends and family, and fear of weight gain is no reason to avoid letting your hair down. With some careful planning and adjustments, you can enjoy the foods and drinks you love this Christmas, but still be the same weight when you ring in the New Year.
For more information on how Dr. Chappell and the Institute for Health Management Aesthetics in Petaluma, California, can help you manage your weight, please contact our office today to make an appointment.