22 Essential Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Many people experience weight gain during the holidays.

With colder weather, comfy sweaters and family gatherings it’s easy to pack on a few pounds.

Please tell me I’m not alone here.

But you can still enjoy the holidays and avoid holiday weight gain by following these essential tips.

22 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

1. Eat a protein-rich snack before you go out.

If you arrive at a holiday party famished you’re likely to overeat. Avoid mindless snacking by choosing a healthy snack, such as the one of the following:

  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • a handful of healthy fat-rich nuts, such as almonds, pecans, cashews, or walnuts
  • an apple with peanut butter, or other nut butter
  • a protein shake, like My Favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • jerky
  • hummus and veggies

2. Stay active.

Many families enjoy sitting around and watching parades, Christmas music specials or ballgames during the holidays.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with these traditions, all this inactivity can lead to weight gain. This is especially true if we’re also eating too much rich food (1)

Rather than lounging around all day, consider:

  • taking a family walk, either outside or inside a mall
  • going ice skating
  • building a snowman with your kids
  • going sledding

These activities will burn calories while giving you the opportunity to bond with loved ones.

3. Pay attention to portion sizes

With all the delicious foods prepared during the holidays, it can be tempting to overeat.

But, people who eat larger portion sizes tend to gain weight more than those who don’t (2).

Makes sense, right?

Read food labels to discern correct portion sizes. Use measuring cups and spoons to measure your food.

4. Get adequate sleep.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain and a slowed metabolism (3, 4)?

When we don’t sleep enough we tend to eat more and exercise less. Our hunger hormone levels increase and this raises calorie intake.

5. Don’t hang out by the food at a party.

If you linger by the delicious dishes and desserts, the temptation to indulge is greater.

But if you step away from the food and focus more on talking to people you’ll save calories, and you just might have more fun. 😉

I’m reminded of the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”.

The same thought applies to your pantry at home. Throw out the junk food so it’s not there tempting you to eat it.

avoid holiday weight gain
Shake it off! Reduce holiday stress.

6. Keep stress under control.

The holidays are stressful sometimes.

There are people to see, presents to buy and wrap and recipes to make.

But it’s important to keep our stress levels under control.

When we are chronically stressed, our levels of cortisone go up. This can cause us to eat more and gain weight (5).

Focus on activities that reduce stress, such as exercise and deep breathing techniques.

I found an app that helps you focus on reducing stress. It’s called Calm.

7.  Prep a healthy dish to share.

Bringing a healthy dish to holiday gatherings can give you something healthy to eat even if everything else is rich or sugar-laden. This can help you keep your healthy eating goals in check.

It also gives others the opportunity to try a delicious and healthful recipe!

8. Use a smaller plate.

Using large plates often leads us to consume more calories. If not kept in check, this can lead to weight gain (6).

Using a small plate helps you control portion sizes and reduce overeating.

9. Avoid processed food.

This includes most foods packages, boxes or bags of food.

Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients. And most have added unhealthy fats, sugar and preservatives.

10. Keep a food diary.

Write down everything you eat, or use an app to help you.

If you’re like me, I often underestimate how much I eat in a day.  Keeping a food diary helps me stay on track with my goals and be more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.

My favorite app is MyFitnessPal. You might like to try it.

11. Weigh yourself weekly.

Okay, so there are conflicting viewpoints when it comes to weighing yourself. Some people weigh a few times a week. Some never.

It’s good to keep in mind that weight fluctuations are normal day-to-day.

But, many people find it helps them stay accountable and makes them more aware of their progress if they weigh weekly (7).

12. Watch your beverage and alcohol intake.

Soda, juice, alcohol and other beverages are full of empty calories and sugar. These factors contribute to weight gain (8).

The best thing to drink?

You guessed it….water!

13. Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly.

Eliminate distractions, such as electronics, and eat mindfully, savoring each delicious bite (9).

14. Keep a consistent workout routine.

Stick to your regular fitness routine as much as possible. Consistent training produces better results.

And that leads me to tip, #15.

15. Stay positive even if you get off track.

Don’t beat yourself up or stress about it. Simply restart your commitment a healthy life and get back on track.

Simply focus on your health and fitness goals and keep moving forward with your plan.

It might help to use Motivational Quotes And Power Phrases.

16. Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks.

Sometimes we think we’re hungry when our body just needs water. Drinking water fills us up and helps prevent overeating (10).

17. Leave a few bites of food on your plate.

Are you a member of the “clean plate club”?

It’s okay to admit it, I used to think I had to clean my plate too.

Try leaving a few bites of food on your plate. You probably won’t even miss them and the calories you’ve saved add up and can help prevent weight gain.

18. Eat loads of veggies.

Filling up on plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits can help prevent obesity (11). They’re filled with vital nutrients and vitamins as well as healthy fiber.

19. Lift weights.

Building muscle is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories.

A great way to build muscle is by doing a kettlebell workout.

You may want to check out 20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout to learn more.

20. Fill up on fiber.

Eating more fiber fills you up faster which can prevent you from eating as much and gaining weight (12).

Fiber-rich foods include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes
  • whole grains.

21. Buddy up.

Find a friend who has similar health goals and give each other accountability.

Having someone to work out or swap health recipes can help you stay on track.

22. Avoid sugar and simple carbs.

Eating too much sugar is a common cause of weight gain and obesity (13).

When you come face to face with the desserts this holiday season, focus on selecting only your favorites and leaving the rest.

This will save you from sugar overload and help keep your blood sugar in a manageable range.

The Takeaway

What are ways you try to stay healthy during the holidays?

Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this, you may want to read:


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The Quick Guide To Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern. It is not a diet.

It’s not about what you choose to eat. But it’s all about when you eat (or don’t eat).

It’s eating, or not eating, in a strategic way.

Though it has recently gained a huge following it has been around for ages. We were once hunters and gatherers who might go for days without food. Our bodies are well-oiled machines, designed to withstand feast or famine.

Modern day eating often centers around a fast-paced life. Eating frequent meals and snacks of highly processed and fast foods is the norm for many of us.

But this doesn’t give our bodies time to rejuvenate and repair the damage these chemicals can do over time.

So in many ways IF is a more natural way of eating.

Anyone can do it. It’s especially popular with weightlifters and elite athletes, likely because it allows you to retain and even gain muscle while losing fat.

The Most Popular Methods Of Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting
It’s all in the timing!

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work? (The Sciencey Stuff)

When you eat a meal your body spends several hours processing and digesting the food. During this time, the body takes energy from the food you’ve eaten.

When you’re eating, or in a feeding state, insulin production tends to be high; This prevents your body from burning stored fat.

But, when our body is in a fasting state the blood sugar and insulin levels are reduced dramatically. There is a sharp increase in human growth hormone.

All these physiological changes turn the body into a fat burning machine…and benefit we love!

Will I Be Hungry While Intermittent Fasting?

Some people experience hunger pangs the first few days while the body is adjusting to the new eating pattern.

Like anything else, when your body becomes accustomed to doing something for so long, it takes a little time to re-calibrate and adjust to the new schedule.

Initial hunger may be stronger in some people and not obvious to others.

If you decide to try IF I urge you to stick with it for a week or more before you make up your mind. Once the initial adjustment to the calorie restriction is over you may find yourself wishing you’d found it sooner. (This has been my experience!)

Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

There are several impressive benefits of IF:

  • weight loss (1)
  • fat loss, especially in the belly (2)
  • stronger insulin sensitivity (3)
  • increased human growth hormone (HGH) production (4)
  • increased metabolic rate (5)
  • changes in gene function related to longevity (6)
  • cellular repair (7)
  • may reduce inflammation (8)
  • better brain health (9)
  • may protect against cancer (10)

Other Benefits of IM

  • less time-consuming because you spend less time preparing food and eating meals
  • less expensive because you eat less
  • simplifies your life and gives you more time to do the things you love (or need to do)

Special Considerations

Certain people should consult their physician or avoid intermittent fasting altogether. This includes:

  • people with eating disorders or anyone who is underweight
  • people with blood sugar issues, such as hypoglycemia (personal note about this below)
  • women who are having problems with fertility – Some women who do IF experience amenorrhea. Their menstrual period stops temporarily, but typically resumes after they return to an ordinary eating schedule.

Please keep in mind that every one is different and there are exceptions.

For example, although I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia two years ago I’m loving IF (the 16/8 schedule). I’ve found it is beneficial for my blood sugar issues. During the fasting periods, I’m cognitively sharper, have more energy and find it easier to concentrate.

If you’re not sure if it’s right for you it’s always best to check with a medical professional.

intermittent fasting
If you’re a weightlifter make sure to eat plenty of protein.

A note to weightlifters and gym rats: Keep in mind that you’re probably eating fewer calories overall. Make sure you’re consuming plenty of protein so you don’t run the risk of losing muscle mass (which I’m sure is the last thing you’d want to happen).

Supplements such as caffeine (pre-workout), BCAAs, Glutamine and Creatine are good ones to look into.

You might like to try this Healthy Coffee Drink Recipe before your training sessions.

If you’re not sure whether IM is a good choice for you, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional who can help you figure out what’s best for your unique self.

Please keep in mind it does not take the place of eating a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods and plenty of protein to fuel your body.

Wrap-Upintermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has some pretty impressive health benefits including increased longevity, fat loss and weight loss, blood sugar regulation and brain health.

You may want to try it yourself and see if you like it.

IM is an eating pattern which can help people health-wise.

Have you tried IM? Do you have questions about it that weren’t answered here. Please leave your comments and questions below. I love hearing from you!


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Extreme Weight Loss And Metabolism: “The Biggest Loser”

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If you’ve ever tried losing weight you might know how difficult it is.

Truth be told, weight loss is often more challenging and complex than the simplified “eat less, work out more” mentality would have us think. Anyone who has tried to lose “those last ten pounds” can attest to this.

Effects Of Extreme Weight Loss On The Metabolism

A recent study published in the medical journal, Obesity, measured the effects of extreme weight loss on the basal metabolic rate (BMR),  resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition of fourteen former contestants from “The Biggest Loser”.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, the study focused on where the contestants were six years after losing all the weight. (1) Four of them now weigh more than when they were on the show, and all but one of the contestants have gained a significant amount of the weight back.

One contestant, Danny Cahill, lost an astounding 239 pounds in seven months. I didn’t even know this was humanly possible! But in the years since his extreme weight loss he has gained more than 100 pounds back.

When a person loses an extreme amount of weight it is normal for their metabolic rate to slow down because one who weighs less requires fewer calories to maintain the same weight than someone who weighs more. Makes sense, right?

Normally we would expect the body to adapt to the weight loss and the metabolism to adjust to the new weight. But that’s not what happened with most of the former contestants in the study.

The researchers found even after the contestants gained a significant amount of weight back, their metabolic rate continued to slow. It was lower than other people who weighed the same.extreme weight loss and metabolism

It was as though their bodies were doing everything possible to prevent them from losing more weight, or even maintain their new weight.

What Do We Know About Our Metabolism?

Our metabolism includes all the processes our body goes through to convert the food we eat (calories) to energy our bodies can use.

You may have heard that each of us has a magic weight, or a set point. This is the weight our body wants to stay at. It’s comfortable and easy for our body to stay at this weight, but it makes weight loss very difficult.

When we lose weight our BMR slows down. It reduces the amount of calories we burn when we’re at rest. (2) Some of the former Biggest Loser contestants had a BMR much lower than would be expected of someone who had the same body composition and weight.

This is also why we hear “yo-yo dieting” isn’t good. Each time we gain and lose (and gain and lose) weight it impacts out metabolic rate and body composition.

The Biggest Loser contestants lost an incredible amount of weight. Many of us gain and lose only ten or fifteen pounds at a time, but even so, it can change our BMR. And doing this repeatedly can make it more difficult to lose weight the next time.

Despite these findings, there is hope for anyone wanting to lose weight. In fact there are many things we can do to help increase our metabolism and lose weight.

What You Can Do To Speed Up Your Metabolism

1. Strength Train! extreme weight loss and metabolism

The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.

In addition to lifting weights or using resistance bands, there are so many body weight workouts you can do that will help build lean muscle mass. There are many free workouts available online.

I have a couple of fitness apps on my phone that I love. Most don’t require any equipment and are free. Currently I’m using:

  • Seven This one is based on the 7-Minute Workout concept. It works all the major muscle groups and only takes 7 minutes to complete.
  • 30 Day Push Up Challenge Push ups are great for building and toning muscles in the arms, (obviously) core and back.
  • 5 Minute Planks Call me crazy, but I love planks! There, I said it. 😉 They’re great for building muscle tone in the abs and back.
  • SWORKIT  One of my favorites! This one allows you to choose between strength training, yoga, stretching, or cardio workouts. You can also specify how long you want the workout to last.

I tend to use one for a while, get bored with it, then try another one. (Just keepin’ it real) Do what works for you!

Please keep in mind that your body needs plenty of high-quality protein to build muscle. You might like to try My Favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake for a delicious and sustaining boost of energy.

2. Eat Whole Foods (And Stay Away From Processed Junk)extreme weight loss and metabolism

Consuming processed foods like prepackaged snack foods, artificial sweeteners (or artificial anything) can slow your metabolism and mess with your thyroid and hormones. The body treats them like toxins, so we need to limit them.

Focus on eating a diet rich in whole foods such as grass-fed beef, eggs, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, (such as coconut oil) nuts and seeds. These foods have all the building blocks our bodies need to support a strong metabolism.

3. Get Plenty Of Sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep your metabolism slows down to save energy. (3)

Also, when we don’t get enough sleep our bodies aren’t able to regulate our blood sugar as effectively. This can lead to hunger pains and increased cravings for food.

Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night and keep your metabolic furnace burning.

If you liked this article, you might like to check out 17 Ways To Lose Weight Faster and 5 Health Benefits Of Whey Protein.

What do you think about “The Biggest Loser” Study? Please share your thoughts below.


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17 Ways To Lose Weight Faster

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Can you guess what America’s number one New Year’s Resolution was for 2015? If you guessed losing weight you’re 100% correct! This is one of my goals too. 🙂

So what are the best ways to lose weight and keep it off?

Many believe the key to weight-loss is burning more calories than you eat. But sometimes there’s more to it. Sure, this works for many people, but sometimes there are more factors to consider, including toxins, motivational and time factors, and problems with the thyroid.

So, if you’ve tried to lose weight in the past but didn’t have success with burning more calories than you eat, then you might want to look into other areas that could be slowing your weight loss to a crawl. Believe me, I’ve been there!

Here Are 17 Ways To Lose Weight Faster:

  1. Drink a glass of water before each meal. Our bodies function more efficiently with plenty of purified water. Drinking water helps with the digestion process. The general recommendation is to drink 8 8-ounce glasses per day, or 2 liters, but depending on your size and activity level you might need a slightly different amount. Here is a more detailed explanation to help you decide how much water you should drink.
  2. Eat breakfast and include protein. This is a tough one for me to follow because I’m never hungry until about noon. I love to drink my coffee in the morning, but if it weren’t for my sweet husband reminding me to eat breakfast (and sometimes making me a protein shake), I probably wouldn’t. The thing is, when I don’t eat breakfast I have blood sugar issues, feel lousy, and eat more the rest of the day than I would if I’d eaten a protein-rich breakfast.
  3. Fill up on fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble winding down at night, taking a hot bath or shower may help. How much sleep should you be getting? Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
  5. Only buy healthy whole food. Stay away from pre-packaged foods that have a long list of ingredients. This usually indicates many artificial additives which can wreck havoc on our bodies.
  6. Find opportunities to move your body throughout the day. Examples are taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your destination so you can log the extra steps, or doing crunches (or other exercise) while you watch TV.
  7. Fill up on healthy soups, like these. They are quite satisfying and lower in calories than other options.
  8. Eat nuts. My personal favorite is pecans. They’re so rich and delicious! Other healthy options include walnuts, almonds and pistachios.
  9. Drink whey protein. It has many health benefits. Just make sure it is all natural and does not contain harmful sweeteners, like Splenda or Aspertame.
  10. Eat spicy foods. They can fire up your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories.
  11. Chew your food well before swallowing. We’ve all heard this before but it works, so it’s worth repeating. 🙂
  12. Eat your meals on a small salad plate instead of a typical dinner plate.
  13. Keep a food diary. Writing down everything we eat makes us much more aware of our caloric intake, as well as whether we’re eating enough fiber, protein, and essential vitamins. My favorite way to keep track of what I eat each day is myfitnesspal.com. I also love that it syncs with my Fitbit so I’m sure I don’t miss anything important.
  14. Avoid white foods, such as white flour, white sugar, white bread and white rice. They can dramatically alter your blood sugar and cause weight gain.
  15. Drink green tea. It has substances that cause fat cells to release fat, especially with exercise. How cool is that?
  16. Include full-fat foods in your diet. This includes grass-fed beef, coconut, eggs and avocados.
  17. Drink coffee! It speeds up your metabolism and causes you to burn more calories (1).

lose weight fasterI hope this list helps you meet your weight loss goals and become the healthiest you can. Please let me know if I can help you in any way on your journey to health!

 

Do you have weight loss tips to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you below in the comments section!

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