Cookies, cakes, sweets, and treats: the holiday season is not just a time of joy and celebration but also over-indulgence.
Whilst we might be enjoying the summer months now, you could still be suffering the effects of last Christmas. Overeating, piling on the pounds, and finding yourself out of shape when the new year turns is often people’s holiday experience, and it can be hard to shift any weight you’ve piled on during the festive period, which is often revealed as you unveil your beach body!
Even for the fittest of people, Christmas can also pose challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. With tempting treats, lavish feasts, and a break from regular routines, it’s easy to lose track of your fitness goals. However, getting to an acceptable weight should be part of your festive planning, and simply staying at the same weight should be your Christmas goal. With mindful planning and moderation, it’s entirely possible to enjoy the festivities without compromising your weight.
Here are some practical tips to help you keep your weight steady during the holidays.
Set Realistic Goals
Rather than aiming for weight loss during the holiday season, shift your focus to maintaining your current weight. This puts the focus on losing weight before the event and then simply maintaining the status quo, much easier than trying to lose weight.
Indeed, realistic goals are key to avoiding disappointment and maintaining a positive mindset: this applies to losing weight as well. For instance, you may weigh in at around 180 pounds and want to drop to 140 pounds. However, you may find this a significant challenge, as you may have a set point weight of 160 pounds. A set point weight is the weight your body feels it is comfortable with, a weight it will then fight to maintain, making your weight loss journey hard. If this is the case, setting an unrealistic goal below your set point weight can lead to demoralization and weight gain.
Maintaining your set point weight is far easier, especially at Christmas, so instead of depriving yourself entirely, aim to indulge sensibly and stay within a reasonable range. Trying to do too much will only lead to disappointment, and besides, you do want to enjoy some of what the holidays offer.
Prioritize Portion Control
During festive meals, it’s important to practice portion control. There’s a common train of thought that suggests eating almost anything in sensible portions will help you maintain weight; even good weight loss programs now suggest a balanced approach to diet, rather than fads or cutting some things out completely. It means that you’re okay to indulge in certain so-called naughty foods during the holidays, but just understand how much you’re having, and what else you’re eating as well.
During Christmas dinner, try to fill your plate with a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including lean protein, whole grains if available, and colorful vegetables. Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid going back for seconds unless you’re genuinely hungry. Try to eat slowly, savoring each bite, which will make you feel fuller, and listen to your body’s signals of satiety. Once you’re full, stop.
It can be easy to remain sedentary during the holidays, and not get out for a run, or down to the gym. If you want to maintain your weight, don’t let the holiday season disrupt your exercise routine too much. Nobody is suggesting you should be out on the tarmac at 8 am on Christmas Eve, or hitting the gym when you should be with family at home.
Still, you can ensure you stay active, and help burn a few of the extra calories you’re putting into your body. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, even if it means going for a brisk walk after a meal or engaging in a family activity. This includes Christmas Day – an after-dinner walk around the block with the family can be just what you need, especially if you’re done playing games and watching television! Staying active helps burn extra calories and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Limit Liquid Calories
Be mindful of the calorie content in holiday beverages such as eggnog, hot chocolate, and festive cocktails. They can be loaded with sugar and calories, and instead, you should opt for healthier alternatives like herbal teas, infused water, or sugar-free versions of your favorite drinks. You don’t have to practice complete abstinence, but by limiting liquid calories, you help prevent excessive calorie intake and support weight maintenance.
If you’re thirsty, try to up your water intake. Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, and often, thirst can be mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary calorie consumption. Stay adequately hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. Additionally, if you choose to drink alcohol, alternate alcoholic beverages with water to reduce overall calorie intake.