I’ve some good news for you. It is a myth that we pile on weight during the holidays. The actual average weight gain is a pound or two. That said, why not enter the New Year more svelte, or at least no less svelte once the festivities are over. But first, we need to bust a couple more myths that are not quite so jolly.
MYTH: I can exercise off that extra slice of pecan pie.
FACT: Exercise does not cancel out the energy overload of that pecan pie. Yes, do exercise, but keep in mind, weight loss is around 80% what you put into your body and 20% what you sweat off. Do the math. An average slice of pecan pie adds 450 calories – 30 minutes of power walking burns 175. Got it?
MYTH: On Jan. 2 I will go back to my healthy eating ways.
FACT: That’s a valiant goal, but the kicker is this. Sugar triggers a desire for more sugar. It’s very addictive. If you have been mainlining stuffing, eggnog and gingerbread for weeks on end, you are not going to smoothly shift into lean, clean eating mode.
On top of that, eating too much sugar and fat messes with the good bacteria in your gut. When that’s out of whack, everything is out of whack, making it more difficult to burn fat and bounce back.
So, what can you do to keep from adding on extra weight during the holidays? Here are 10 hacks to help ease you back into the New Year:
- Start each day with a healthy protein rich breakfast [i.e. no glazed doughnuts]. This will give you a sense of fullness. It also prevents a blood sugar drop that can trigger a craving for sweets.
- Stay hydrated. When you are thirsty, your brain interprets that as hunger. That craving for a tasty snack is, in fact, your body calling out for a drink of water.
- Fill your dinner plate with healthy non starchy veggies and clean proteins. Eat those first. This will fill you up with good fiber. You will feel fuller, eat less and your blood sugar will not spiral out of control.
- Pick your poison. Avoid bread, booze, dessert and dinner carbs like rice or potatoes, during the day. At dinner, pick just one, or two if you must, but no more.
- Savor don’t gulp. This is not your last piece of cheesecake, OK. Take it slow. Enjoy every bite. Eating slowly will keep you from stuffing yourself and will give your brain time to register a sense of fullness.
- Don’t linger by the buffet bloated with goodies. Hang out with people, not food. This will get your mind off all the sweet things calling your name.
- Do not go back for seconds. One and done.
- Drink 16 oz. of water for every 12 oz. of beer, wine and champagne (or 4-6 oz. of liquor). This will not only keep you from overindulging (which can lead to acting in ways you later regret), but it will head a hangover off at the pass.
- Keep up an exercise regimen. No, you can’t out exercise your fork, but exercise stokes your metabolism and maintains your muscle mass. Incorporate as much activity into your day as possible — running up the stairs, instead of taking an elevator, for example.
- Blew it? Get back on track with your very next meal. No shame and guilt allowed. Those emotions will cause you to spiral into a, “What the heck, I blew it. Why try? Pass the pie.” You’ve got this; there is grace in the journey.
Cheers to a healthy, head start on your New Year’s resolutions. And don’t forget to check with your health professional before making any diet and lifestyle changes.