With all the parties, eating, and slacking on your exercise routine, it can be pretty easy to put on a few pounds during the holiday season. Most people gain about two to five pounds during the holidays. It takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound. Therefore, an additional 500 calories per day can cause two pounds of weight gain in two weeks. About three homemade cookies and a glass of milk add up to just about 500 calories and some can people consume around 2,000 calories per meal during the holidays. That means someone could actually put on a pound per day! So how can you cut those extra calories and get back on the right path? Here are some tips to help you along the road to holiday recovery.
- Don’t get discouraged: Abandon the guilt and accept that it’s OK if you put on a couple of pounds during the holidays. Holidays can be a stressful time and lead to mindless and emotional eating. Pay attention to what you’re consuming and you’ll be back on track in no time.
- Cut 100: Instead of restricting yourself too much right away, set a reasonable goal of cutting out just 100 calories per day. This can be simply skipping the cookie or brownie for dessert, switching to a low calorie salad dressing, not adding cheese to your sandwich, using mustard instead of mayo, or ordering a small “skinny” latte instead of a regular one.
- Plan healthy meals for the next week: Plan healthy meals that consist of lean proteins such as chicken or fish and lots of vegetables. Snack on fruits or nuts instead of the leftover holiday candy and sweets.
- Make time for some exercise: Start back slowly to avoid muscle soreness/injury and tiredness. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to restart your workout routine at full blast. Take a week or two to get back to where you were pre-holiday season by starting with lighter workouts and gradually increase back to your usual intensity.
- Get the holiday food out of sight: Give some away at work or donate it to your church. You can even freeze some of the leftover goodies and take them out for special occasions.
- Get some sleep: Sleep often gets cut short during the holidays with all of the parties and Christmas shopping to be done. Sleep is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. Stress can lead to overeating, so the more sleep you get, the less stressed out you will feel. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep at night.
The most important thing when trying to shed holiday weight is to not get discouraged! It may take some time, but keep a positive attitude, control your portion sizes, and get some exercise – you will be back on track in no time!
For more info on diet and health, visit us at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville.
Shelly Edens is a registered dietician with Memorial Hospital.