The holiday season is an exciting time to connect with friends and family at gatherings over food. Food has the power to bring comfort and unite us together, but with the holiday season comes stress. Sometimes the stress of undoing your weight loss journey can feel overwhelming. The thought of gaining weight from being around the family and lots of food for a prolonged time can be the root of anxiety and stress for many people. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prepare yourself and feel ready to tackle the holiday without stress. By feeling mentally prepared for the season, you don’t have to punish yourself with a restrictive diet and exercise regime when 2022 begins.
How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays
As the holiday season looms closer, it’s entirely normal to feel excited and overwhelmed simultaneously. It’s that time of year when you want to connect with friends and family and naturally indulge in some food. The colder season typically comes with more indulgence than the rest of the year. This can be very stressful as you don’t want to undo your hard work over the holidays. At the same time, you don’t want to deprive yourself of food either.
Holiday weight gain occurs all over the world. Even though different cultures celebrate the holidays in their own way, they still experience weight gain. Research found that German, American, and Japanese participants gained about 0.5 percent body weight ten days after Christmas.
Going into the holidays with the right mindset can be just what you need to navigate any festivities. The holiday season can be tricky because there tends to be a series of events where you’re indulging instead of a one-off occasion. Finding the balance between enjoying yourself and limiting weight gain is key to feeling more in control.
4 Actionable Steps to Handle the Holiday Season Without the Stress of Gaining Weight
The holiday season can feel hectic at the best of times. But you can keep moving forward towards your goals and reduce the stress and anxiety you feel. It’s entirely normal to worry about gaining weight over a time where there is a lot of focus on dining events. When you mentally prepare yourself for the holidays, you can tackle the season without the stress of gaining weight.
Continue Resistance Training
Throughout the holidays, keep moving. Go for a brisk walk or head to the gym for a holiday workout so you can stay active. Incorporate resistance training into your routine to maintain your metabolic rate. Research shows resistance training significantly increases resting metabolic rate after several weeks of training. Your resting metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn when you’re at rest.
Remember Positive Thinking
One of the hardest parts of the holiday season is not becoming discouraged if you overindulge. Although it feels like you have to restrict your diet or go hard on your next workout, try not to let it get you down. After every dining event, there is a new day. Keep that in mind when you’re feeling a little low after a meal. Even if you have indulged, don’t let it discourage you and weigh on your mind. Instead, say, “screw it, I will start again on Monday” or “I will restart in January.” Maintaining your mental health is just as important as maintaining your physical health.
Try Mindful Eating
Before you head to a dinner party or event, think about your portions. This is especially true for buffet-style and self-serve dinners. When making up your plate, be mindful of your portions. Often, the eyes are bigger than the belly, and it’s too easy to overeat because the plate is so full. Start by prioritizing protein and a veggie portion. Eat that until you are about eighty percent full while enjoying everything else you desire. Try to eat slowly and chew thoroughly, so you can stop when you feel full.
Aim for Consistent Sleep
Studies show that even one night of sleep deprivation can affect your hunger levels and appetite hormones. If you get plenty of sleep, it will mean that you are less likely to crave unhealthy foods. Getting consistent and quality sleep can be easier said than done. Going to bed at the same time and creating a sleep routine is a good place to start. The Sleepyhead USA copper topper is a useful sleeping accessory, especially for drawing extra heat from the body, and it’s bed bug resistant.
Enjoy the Holiday Season Without the Stress and Anxiety of Gaining Weight
The winter holidays are a great time for families to get together and share meaningful experiences. Although it can be a time of stress and anxiety of undoing all your hard work, you can take small steps to prepare yourself mentally. Trying healthy holiday breakfast ideas instead of sugar-laden recipes is a great place to start.
Holiday Stress in itself can impact your eating habits. With unrealistic expectations and added responsibilities, it can be a stressful time. It’s easy to forget to work out and eat well, which are both good ways of dealing with stress in the first place. Acknowledge that you may need to adapt your everyday routine if you have a busy social calendar. But there’s no need to throw it all out the window and be “perfect” come January. Instead, try to engage in healthy behaviors while enjoying yourself throughout the holidays.
Between Thanksgiving feasts and holiday parties, the last few months of the year can be challenging for even the most disciplined. It’s normal to overindulge, but the important thing is that you don’t let it get you down. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The bottom line is that if you are mentally prepared and come with a set of actionable steps, you can feel more in control. You’re way less likely to feel disappointed and stressed when trying to tackle this amazing but sometimes overwhelming time of the year.
Why People Make Weight Comments at Holiday Gatherings & What to Do
By Silvia Carli-Reese MS, RD, CSCS
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