It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is upon us. That means lots of social gatherings, eating, and lots of eggnog. For some it means snuggling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and some popcorn or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
How can you not love this time of year? Maybe you’ve heard that the average American gains five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Average weight gain
Don’t panic! I’m here to tell you that there isn’t any real data supporting those irrational claims. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine the average weight gain around the holiday was only 0.80lbs, that’s less than a pound. I know it’s hard to believe, for a long time we’ve all heard that the average weight gain around the holiday is five pounds.
If you are still worried about the holiday pounds here are 3 simple strategies to follow.
Remember what makes the holidays special
First it’s important to stop and think about what makes the holidays special to you. I bet 99% of you enjoy reuniting with your extended family and reminiscing about the good ol days. Chances are you’ve been hearing the same stories for many years and could retell them in your sleep. Each year those stories and memories become more special.
Stay active during the season
Secondly find new ways to stay active. Many people are active for half the year when the weather is nice. People are out walking, golfing, swimming and even busy with yard work. When winter comes into town people tend to hibernate. That’s almost like working out for six months and then resting for six months. So, you can see how easy it is for the pounds to sneak on over the years.
Did you know that 80% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of weekly exercise?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. If you divide 150 minutes of exercise into a full week, that’s only 21 minutes of continuous movement a day. For example, you could walk 10 minutes down the street and then turn around and walk back home. Sounds simple right? Yet only 20% of Americans meet the recommended dose. A twenty one minute walk might not be intense enough to give you sculpted abs but it can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and even some cancers.
Savor what you eat
Lastly, enjoy all the goodies, but be sure to savor each scrumptious bite. I drive my wife nuts with this. I have a habit of eating slow but according to my wife, I chew really fast and loud. She says I can make eating mashed potatoes sound like fireworks. It sounds like an oxymoron but when I’m eating something that I enjoy, I never want that bite to end. So I just keep chewing and savoring every bite. I’m like Tom Brady in the 4th quarter with 2 minutes to go and down by 3, I’m super focused.
Treating each bite like a masterpiece may help you to feel more satisfied and even eat less. When you are distracted you are more likely to overeat and ignore hunger cues. Have you ever sat down with a bucket of popcorn to watch a movie and then look down baffled to what happened to all the popcorn? Sure, we’ve all have and it’s always a sad moment when your fingers hit the bottom of the bowl.That’s exactly what happens when we are eating and scrolling through our cell phones or watching tv.
When you are present and fully engaged with what you are eating not only does the food taste better but you're usually are more aware of your fullness cues and less likely to overeat. FYI if you have to unbutton the top button of your favorite jeans you've missed that boat.
Enjoy the holiday season
Right now is not the time to deprive yourself and to go on a diet. Save that for your New Year's resolutions. I’m kidding! Enjoy this season, embrace your loved ones, and count your blessings and bites.