By Carol Penfield M.S. Nurse Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritionist
Owner of Chatham Health & Swim Club

The average American gains 10 pounds during the holiday season from Halloween to New Years. Fifty percent of an individual’s yearly weight gain occurs during this festive time. WHY? Social gatherings often include more food choices, larger portions and alcohol that weaken “willpower”. Healthy eating patterns become difficult to maintain. The people who gain the most weight during the holidays are those who abandon their exercise routines.

It is important to first focus your mind on trying to only lose the new weight gained. Dieters often get overwhelmed with an unrealistic long-term goal and therefore prematurely give up on a weight loss regime. Staying consistent and working on a 500-calorie deficit per day will lead to reducing your body fat by one pound per week. This can be achieved through eating 250 calories less and burning 250 calories through exercise daily.

Take the pressure off yourself. Fat does not disappear overnight. Making small changes such as eating one less donut per week can lead to a loss of 3 pounds in a year. Consider walking 8 minutes extra each day and in one year you will lose 4 pounds.

Trying to get your motivation back during the holiday season is another challenge. The following are a few tricks to try.

1) Minimize your choices.
Freeze or give away your leftovers. Consider periodically trying meal replacements such as a Slim Fast shake, nutrition bar, or Weight Watchers meal. With meal replacements, your portions are defined for you and temptation is minimized.

2) Tricks for overeaters used to “volume”.
People who are used to eating large portions can try increasing their vegetable intake. Fill yourself with low calorie vegetables, rather than other calorie dense foods. It has been shown in studies that successful dieters consume greater that 20 vegetable servings per week. Drinking a large glass of water before your meal can also trick your stomach into feeling full.

3) Train your body to be satisfied with smaller portions.
One technique is to try small frequent snacking. Snacking during the day may keep you from getting too hungry and eating more than necessary at the next meal. Fueling your body with small meals will help boost your metabolism. Eating a large volume of food at once, such as more that 1000 calories, will lead to storing the excess as fat. It is important to stay within your total daily calorie allowance when planning snacks. Most individuals will lose weight on an intake of 1500 calories per day.

4) Don’t stop exercising or you will not lose the weight!
Schedule time during your busy day to exercise above your usual activity. Walking is the most common form of exercise chosen. Walking will improve your health and fitness level but many are not exercising at the level it takes to lose weight. Consider trying interval exercises. Interval exercise groups have shown to lose fat at a higher rate than endurance exercise groups. Walking and other endurance exercises do effectively burn calories, but interval exercises have shown to not only burn calories but also boost your metabolism after the exercise regime.
Interval exercising involves alternating between high and low intensity exercises for a specific short length of time. For example, changing the speed of your activity, doing exercise stations or light weight lifting. The exercise to recovery ratio should be 2:1. For instance, if you walk up stairs for 30 seconds your rest portion would be twice as long or 60 seconds before repeating the activity. When doing interval exercises it is important to exercise at an intensity level that you feel is “somewhat hard” or 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.

5) Be accountable.
It is hard to lose weight on your own. Over 100 studies have indicated that people
who join groups or seek periodic professional consults for diet and exercise show the greatest weight loss success. Checking your weight only once a week is recommended.

6) Recognizing stress and depression.
Family and social issues often arise during the holidays. Many individuals overeat or binge-eat to relieve stress. Depression can potentially interfere with motivation to lose weight and it can be treated. Consider seeking professional help to assist in recognizing and possibly treating depression.

Losing weight during the holiday season becomes a “growing” challenge every year. Developing healthy eating patterns, routine exercise and making modest behavioral changes will lead to success. It is difficult to stay motivated and lose weight on your own. Do not give up on trying, your health depends on it!

If you are interested in learning more about losing weight, controlling overeating and fat burning circuit exercises, come to a free workshop on Saturday, January 2th, 10 –11 am, at the Chatham Health & Swim Club, 251 Crowell Rd., Chatham.
Call 508-945-3555 to reserve a seat.
If you are unable to attend, and are interested in a 6-week weight loss challenge starting Jan. 4th with Carol Penfield, Nurse Practitioner and Program Director, call her office at 508-945-7761.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s