Top Ten Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Did you know the average American gains 5-7 pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day? That equates to ingesting at least 17,500 more calories than you burn on a daily basis during that time period. At a minimum, that equals nearly 500 extra calories per day on average over that stretch of days.

Usually, the added weight comes in fancy cookie trays or creatively decorated gift baskets from clients, friends and family. The sound of Christmas music and arrival of cold weather encourage us to partake of traditional holiday fare and simply move less. This combination leads to tighter fitting pants and feeling sluggish.

Now is the time to fight back! Don't wait to start your exercise program after the New Year begins. Initiate better exercise and eating habits now, because the weight is always harder to take off compared to preventing the gain beforehand. See the list below for tips on staying trim during this holiday season.

1. Perform strength training workouts at least 3 times per week.

2. Build in extra cardiovascular training if you decide to stray from your normal eating patterns to offset the extra calories.

3. Limit alcohol consumption as it will cloud your eating judgment and predisposes you to cravings and overeating.

4. Limit the number of holiday parties you attend.

5. Eat a small nutritious and fibrous snack prior to arriving at holiday parties. This way you will eat less because your stomach will feel full faster.

6. Do not buy holiday snacks for your house. If it is available, you will graze all day long without even noticing.

7. Plan events such as the Jingle Bell Run that keep you focused on training and exercise amidst the hustle and bustle.

8. Try to limit eating out when possible. With shopping, it becomes easy to dine out and partake in heavier foods and desserts.

9. Go to bed early or on time. Studies suggest that getting too little sleep will affect metabolism and prompt late night eating.

10. While at the mall, take additional time to walk after your shopping is finished.

Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS, is a respected author, physical therapist and fitness expert. You can sign-up for his free online newsletter @ http://www.thefitnessedge.cc.

Copyright © 2004 Brian Schiff

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