The holidays are almost upon us, and you know what that means; lots of hours spent in stores buying gifts, traveling long distances to visit relatives and eating lots and lots of food. Of all of these traditions, the one involving food is arguably deserves the most attention. Many people indulge in sugary and fattening foods over the holiday season, a habit that contributes to one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions – to lose extra weight.
Admittedly, it takes much willpower to lay off the cookies, turkey, cranberry sauce, eggnog, candy and other popular holiday foods. This temptation is simply too much for most people to bear, which may explain why you might so many new faces at the gym come January (whether these new gym rats stick with their new habit is another question entirely). If you find yourself carrying around some extra pounds after New Years Day, the following tips might prove helpful in slimming down to your pre-holiday weight.
Cut Back on Calories – The reason why most people gain weight is hardly rocket science. Simply put, people generally get bigger after consuming more calories than their bodies need on a daily basis. Of course, all of those sugar-drenched baked goods are packed with empty calories. Making matters worse is that some people acquire a nice collection of leftovers during the holidays, allowing them to snack on holiday-themed treats well into the new year.
Once the holidays are complete, try to throw out these unhealthy items. If you can’t bear to part with them, at least place these foods in the freezer. By doing so, you can spread them out over a long period of time. This tactic can help limit your daily calorie intake.
Add (More) Fiber to Your Diet – There’s good reason why fiber-rich foods get so much positive publicity. While it may not make for pleasant reading, the body needs a sufficient fiber to help regulate its bowel movements. As an added bonus, foods high in fiber can do a number on your appetite, significantly reducing your snack-food cravings.
Keep a Food Diary – Keeping track of what you eat might seem like a somewhat strange idea, but evidence suggests that it may be well worth the effort. Such was the opinion of researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, who published their study in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This report found that these “food diaries” went hand-in-hand with better weight loss results. Specifically, the participants who regularly documented their food intake lost twice as much weight as those who did not.
Lay off the Alcohol – Given its potent effects on the human body, it’s always a good idea to drink alcohol in moderation. To put it mildly, excessive amounts of alcohol can easily lead to impaired judgment and diminished cognitive abilities. Aside from these drawbacks, here’s another reason to put down the post-holiday eggnog – alcohol is generally high in calories.
Consider that alcohol contains 7 calories per each gram. This figure is almost equal to the calories found in a gram of fat (9 grams); likewise, each gram of protein and carbohydrate holds 4 calories each. Because of alcohol’s high caloric content, even a single alcoholic drink can feature a sizable amount of calories; for example, a 12 ounce beer can have 150 calories, whereas downing a 3.5 oz. glass of wine can quickly add 85 calories to your diet. In lieu of alcoholic drinks, it’s better for your waistline to substitute zero-calorie drinks like tea (provided it has no sugar or cream) and water.
Stay Active – A number of people fall out of the habit of exercising over the winter holidays. This is perfectly understandable, given how much people have on their plate during this time of year (both figuratively and literally!). Getting off the couch and into in the gym can make shedding extra pounds a much more achievable goal. If possible, try to work out a little harder than usual.
Even something as basic as walking can be helpful in this regard; a 160 lb. person walking at a speed of 3.5 mph can burn over 150 calories in just a half hour.
Swap Big Meals for Smaller Ones – Some people have successfully lost weight by jettisoning the “three-meals-per-day” approach in lieu of five or six smaller meals. There are many potential benefits to adopting this sort of diet, such as a less ravenous appetite, increased energy levels and a better overall mood.