How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Most people who read the following statement will let out a sigh or a groan, which puts me in the minority: The holiday season is quickly upon us.

I look forward to the lights, the hot cocoa, the cheesy commercials, the wearing of scarves, the pervasive warmfuzziness that would be nauseating at any other time of the year.

One of the things most people dislike (read: loathe) about the holiday season is the annual dreaded weight gain. Let’s face it—the extreme ease of putting on a few pounds during the holidays is akin to osmosis—we practically gain the weight just by being around food.

But as you know, I’m always looking out for your best interest, so I’m here with a few tips from my own personal experience on how to deal with constant presence of food during the holidays. As a nonsupermodel (read: average human being), I’m not immune to the weight gain either, but there are some tricks I’ve picked up throughout the years that help me keep things in check.

1. Plan Ahead
Planning is so key to success. Most people don’t know how many calories they should consume each day in order to maintain their weight. Find out—google “calories needed per day” and check out a few sites to find an accurate number. If you have an iPhone, download an app like Lose It! to help you track your calories. Then, divide that number and plan how many calories you’ll consume at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and include two snacks!). When you map out your daily caloric intake, you know the exact number that you have to stay within to maintain your weight. I know this one sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, most of us are eating more calories than we realize when we sit down at dinner during the holidays. Knowing your numbers and planning are crucial.

2. Pack Your Snacks and Meals
Remember last year when Linda from HR showed up with cookies right before the holidays—and you ate four?

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about bringing your lunch to work that makes us feel like we shouldn’t waste it. If you prepare a lunch and two snacks that are within the calorie range you mapped out, you’re more likely not to snack on all those cookies that Linda brought in. And when you’re driving five hours to see Grandma, pack some healthy snacks to eat along the way.

3. Stay Active
Staying active is a great way to spend time with family, too. Take a walk together, go for a jog, play a game of football, go sledding, have a snowball fight—there are more opportunities to get moving than you think. Remember that aerobics scene in Dan in Real Life? Didn’t that look fun?

If you’re more of a gym person, find a local gym in the area you’ll be visiting. If your chain doesn’t have one in the area, see if you can get a weeklong trial membership at another local gym. But whether you choose to sweat it out in the gym or work out with family, make no excuses. Staying active isn’t just good for your waistline, it’s great for your overall health, mood, and longevity.

So, here’s to keeping those extra pounds off during the holidays. And here are a few tools to help you throughout the season (and during 2011!).


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