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How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

By Lindsey House, RD LD Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise

Many people make broad resolutions to change things in their life. Instead, it is often more helpful to focus one's goals so that you are not overwhelmed. Here are a few practical rules that can help you lose weight, exercise more, and even get healthier during the holidays. That's right...why wait until January 1 to start?


  1. Set Realistic Expectations: There is no way to be perfect during the holiday season. Try not to beat yourself up if you have a Halloween treat or Christmas cookie. A realistic expectation is to allow yourself permission to have that taste of a candy or cookie and NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT. Often people will have a taste of something and then feel they blew everything and then they overindulge more.  We want to stop the all or nothing approach and integrate a healthy, realistic expectation.  Therefore, if you feel you really want to try something, allow yourself to have it knowing you will not miss a beat with your eating and exercise plan.  And if you have a little more than a small bite, be sure to incorporate more activity that day to balance your indulgence.
  2. Give Away Leftovers: Do not become the human garbage disposal (hundreds of extra calories are better in the garbage than in your body)! Choose only the foods that you absolutely LOVE and get rid of the rest. If you cannot stand the thought of pitching or wasting food, give it away to neighbors, coworkers or friends. Most likely they will throw it away, but at least you do not have to know about it. Better to throw it away than to have to work it off your body. 
  3. Do Not Turn Shopping Trips Into Eating Sprees: Going out to splurge on shopping sprees during the holidays is not an excuse to splurge on unhealthy foods. Carry almonds, fruit, protein and/or fiber bars or other healthy foods with you to avoid starvation and fast foods.
  4. Make Time For Exercise: Yes, you may be busy, but are you really too busy to fit in 20 minutes of fitness? At the very least, throw on a pedometer to provide motivation to park further away or take the stairs. Every little bit counts when it comes to movement!
  5. Watch Your Liquid Calories: Choose your foods wisely. Choose your drinks even more wisely or you could consume over 1,000 calories in just beverages before the day is done. Calories to consider:
  • Apple Cider (8 ounces) = 120 calories
  • Eggnog (6 ounces) = 168 calories
  • Light beer (12 ounces) = 110 calories
  • Red wine (5 ounces) = 125 calories

Who knows...with some simple strategies like these, you may not only avoid weight gain during this holiday season but you may indeed continue on your weight loss journey.