The holidays are an amazing time to enjoy the company of family and friends. Typically one of the key components to holiday celebrations is the food. It becomes a time that we splurge on treats that we may not often consume during the rest of the year. This can take a particular toll on the waist line. So how do we keep the weight off, even during those tempting holiday feasts?
The most obvious choice for preventing weight gain is avoiding overeating. Note that 1 lb is the equivalent of 3,500 calories. If you plan on not only avoiding weight gain, but possibly losing some weight during this challenging winter timeframe, your caloric intake will need to be reduced by 500-1000 calories per day in order to lose 1-2 lbs per week. “But the food is so tempting!” you may think. I’m not disagreeing with you. If at all possible, limiting caloric intake will help you avoid gaining weight; however, there is an alternative. If you plan on consuming those extra calories over the holidays, then you have to expend more calories. In other words, you’re going to need to burn off those calories with activity.
Activity does not have to be a particular structured exercise program like lifting weights or running on the treadmill, but you have to expend enough energy to burn off the extra calories that you have consumed. You may choose to play in the yard with your children or grandchildren, go on a brisk walk and look at Christmas decorations, or even shovel snow off the driveway (depending on the accumulation this year). The important thing is to balance how many calories you bring in compared to the amount you expend. Just because you have been active for the afternoon does not necessarily mean that you have been active enough to consume everything that you may desire. Keep that in mind when you are loading your plate; and especially if you are not particularly fond of exercise or being active, you may want to rethink the extra helping of mashed potatoes.
If losing weight and keeping it off are your goal, then both diet and exercise/activity should become a more regular part of your daily routine. 30-60 minutes of moderately intense activity at least 5 days a week will make maintaining or losing weight more sustainable. The dieting portion of the program can be more challenging during the holidays; but if you find yourself falling off of the bandwagon, then don’t be afraid to hop back on. Weight loss is not an overnight venture. It takes time and commitment. You may falter, but that does NOT mean give up ENTIRELY. Also note that GRADUAL changes in diet and reducing calories will be more effective and sustainable than trying to keep a very strict reduction in calories right away. Reducing your caloric intake to TOO low of a level may actually result in your body losing muscle rather than fat, decrease the likelihood of you getting all of the proper nutrients that your body needs from food, and may leave you more prone to binging when you feel starved.
The health benefits to losing excess weight are definitely worth the struggle. If your goal is to lose 20% of excess body weight, that’s great; but even a 5% loss will begin to demonstrate health benefits. These benefits may include improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. In addition to these health benefits, weight loss can also assist in your energy level, mobility, mood, and self-confidence. For more blogs related to weight loss and exercise, check out the following links: exercise for health or weight loss, different forms of exercise, childhood obesity, and obesity continued.
If you have any questions on this topic or any others in which you are interested, feel free to leave any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thank you for reading and stay active.