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Holiday Survival Guide

lauren_hodgesBy: Dr. Lauren HodgesDirector of Corporate PerformanceSPECTRUM, Inc

Though the holidays is one of the most magical times of the year, it’s also a time associated with the infamous “holiday weight gain.” With the parties, sweets, elaborate holiday dinners, cookie exchanges and so on, overindulgence is a fair fear. According to a recent NY Times article, the average American only gains one pound over the holidays; but, the average overweight American is estimated to gain 5 pounds during the holidays. Add up 10 years of holiday feasts and that’s a minimum of ten pounds gained in 10 years without accounting for any other weight gain during the year—this can add up! Here are ten tips to ward off the extra pounds this holiday season:

1. Do not skip meals.
It’s important to eating often throughout the day. This helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels and increase metabolism. It also helps you feel fuller for longer.

2. Include protein in every meal.
Like snacking, protein is a vital nutrient for various reasons. Most relevant to this discussion, protein regulates blood sugar and hunger throughout the day to ward off the sweet cravings. Include lean meats, cheese sticks, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, soy, or even a protein powder to help take in protein.

3. Plan ahead to combat sweet temptations.
Planning ahead prevents impulsive decision making or unhealthy fast food trips. Planning meals and snacks is key to losing weight as well—take a day every week and write out a meal plan.

4. Enlist coworkers and/personal friends to help.
There’s nothing better than a little friendly peer pressure and accountability. Enlist your office mates and friends to help you stay on track this holiday season—this might eliminate pressure to try this cookie or that cake during the dreaded afternoon lull.

5. “Triage” your holiday favorites.
No one should have to go without Grandma’s famous pecan pie! “Triage” your holiday favorites and politely decline the other, lesser temptations in between.

6. Don’t slingshot and go cold turkey.
Statistically speaking, a whopping 98% of diets fail. This is partly due to the fact that they are not sustainable nor realistic. Don’t cut yourself off from all things Holiday: be reasonable and enjoy yourself to prevent a binge or feeling of failure.

7. Move and hydrate before indulging.
If you do want to fight the urge to reach into the candy jar at work, try this: (1) walk the stairs twice, (2) drink a glass of water, and (3) stretch. Still want it? Eat it!

8. Make movement a part of your day….you’re not simply “paying your dues.”
Exercise and movement throughout the day is good for mind, body, and soul. Exercise should never be viewed as payment toward some “bad” eating. There’s no such thing.

9. Start your New Year’s resolutions now.
What are you waiting for? If you’re New Year’s resolution is to start exercising daily, why not start now by adding one day of exercise in during the week? Then the pressure of January 1st won’t be as potent and intimidating when it comes to fruition—it also helps instill healthy habits ahead of time to increase the chance that you stick with it.

10. Don’t stress it.
The holidays aren’t about weight gain or loss; they’re a time of slowing down the rat race, giving back, and remembering what we’re really living for (which is not a flat belly). Remind yourself of your real purpose for being here and enjoy yourself this holiday season. Moderation, movement, and planning are key.

Happy Holidays!

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