We’ve all heard the songs. It’s the most wonderful time of year, they tell us. But for those of us that are watching our weight, having a holly jolly Christmas can set us back in our long term goals. Studies suggest that, during the holiday season, the average American can gain anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds. In fact, the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a holiday dinner. And that’s just the one dinner!
With gingerbread lattes beckoning from bright red cups and eggnog prominently on display at every grocery store in town, this is the time of year when people say to themselves, “hey – it’s the holidays! Everything in moderation, right?” At the same time, when the winter months hit, people tend to stay indoors and skimp on their exercise regimen. And those pounds can add up over the years.
When you are considering a healthy diet and exercise routine, it’s important to keep to your plan, even during the holidays. Let Santa be the one with the bowl full of jelly while you get a jump start at the gym before the New Year’s Resolution crowd invades it in January.
Here are a few thoughts to consider this time of year:
- Ho-ho-hold Your Weight: Remember to maintain SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-oriented. This time of year, a most realistic goal may be to maintain your current weight rather than shed the pounds. If your grandma’s pecan pie is you favorite holiday tradition, avoiding it could lead to more frustration with your diet than simply adding an additional 15-minute walk to your weekly routine. Set goals that you can maintain without giving up the joy of the holidays.
- City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks: Chances are that your hometown is filled with tinsel, lights and holiday displays. Get out there and see them! Walk around the square downtown and see how many Christmas trees you can find, build a snowman or go sledding. This is the time of year to take up exercise opportunities you won’t have in August. Some communities offer holiday 5Ks (the best ones even give you hot chocolate afterward!), considering signing up for one of these to keep your goals to the forefront.
- Say… What’s in This Drink?: One easy way to rein in excess calories is by choosing healthier alternatives in holiday drinks. Order that pumpkin spice latte with skim milk rather than the full fat alternative. Alcohol can increase hunger so choose wine or beer over heavy cocktails and eggnog. Of, as an alternative, use diet sodas and sparkling water as a mixer when possible.
Maintaining your healthy weight loss goals doesn’t mean that you have to have a blue Christmas. Just make sure that you have a plan in place to avoid overindulgence. Once the holiday season is over, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the satisfaction of knowing you kept yourself on track. How’s that song go again? Make your list and check it twice.