Here are 3 ways to avoid holiday weight gain. I'm not going to tell you to eat lettuce for 30 days, and I'm not going to suggest that you need to workout relentlessly to keep excess weight at bay either. I am, however, going to dish a few tips that will hopefully help reinforce few healthy habits that will keep you looking and feeling great from now through the New Year.
1) Don't exercise longer, exercise smarter: Long cardio-based workouts really don't do much good for permanent weight loss. In fact, research has shown that excessive "easy" cardio can actually burn muscle and increase body fat. As a personal trainer, getting people to understand that they can get greater body-shaping benefits out of a 45-minute workout vs a 2-hour workout is always a challenge. It's only after I work with them for a six or more weeks that they really see a difference in not just how they look, but how they feel.
Don't just shrug this off! Coming into the holidays, finding time to workout for long periods of time can become difficult. Wouldn't you rather spend your time with family, shopping for gifts of making healthy meals?
Working out for 60 minutes or less four times a week can change your body - if you're willing to give it all you've got! I'm a big believer in high intensity interval workouts. Just about all of my workouts revolve around them in some way, shape or form. I'm also a big proponent of people being able to use their own body - and nothing else - to get in a great workout. Below are three workouts for you to try. Give them a shot. Let me know how you do.
2) Avoid grains: I was going to suggest you should avoid sugar (which I think you really should), but coming into the holiday season, avoiding every piece of chocolate and every piece homemade fudge might be a little unrealistic (or is that just in my house?). By all means, take it easy on sugary foods or you'll regret it, but until you're past January 1st, avoid grains. Believe it or not, it's not nearly as difficult or sad as you think it will be. So you'll have to forgo a few sandwiches, but it will be well worth it. I'll get to why I think sandwiches are pure evil in another post. Until then, trust me on this one.
Most grains create an acidic environment in our body, and have a tendency to produce inflammation. If you're struggling with long term weight gain, there's a strong chance you could be dealing with chronic inflammation. You may not know it, but it's probably there. If you can reduce chronic inflammation related to allergies, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, high blood pressure, ulcers, etc., weight loss will be easier.
Common grains to avoid include:
- Beer (sorry)
3) Avoid Beverage Overload: Whether it's alcohol, specialty coffee drinks or just juice, a few high calorie drinks a week can add pounds onto the scale very quickly. Here is a little food for thought:
- Coffee drinks add up fast: Just one specialty coffee, like a grande peppermint mocha, weighs in at 410 calories with 54 grams of sugar (13 teaspoons). Ouch! Just two drinks a week add up to one additional pound in a month. One pound may not sound like a lot, but losing unnecessary weight gain is always a challenge to lose.The solution? If your goal is to keep weight off, stay away from specialty coffee drinks. If you've got to have caffeine, try a small coffee with milk (preferably organic) and stevia, or green tea.
- Alcohol stops fat metabolism: If you're drink of choice is a beer or glass of wine (or two), watch what you're eating. Pairing fatty foods with alcohol increases the likelihood that you'll store fat. Why? Alcohol trumps fat when it comes to breaking down calories - no matter where the come from. Our body gives preference to the calories in alcohol before fat. In other words, if you had a couple of beers with a couple slices of cheesy pizza, guess what will probably get stored for the long haul? That's right. Pizza. A better solution? Drink responsibly and eat light. It's ok to have a couple drinks over the holidays, just make sure you're not sitting down to a heavy meal as the drinks are poured.
- Fresh-Squeezed Juice vs Store Bought Juice Aren't the Same: Juicing a few fresh apples or oranges can be a really healthy addition to any meal. A small glass of fresh-squeezed juice is loaded with living nutrients straight from the fruit. Many bottled store-bought juices are often not entirely juice and typically loaded with added sugar. Don't be surprised if all that extra juice goes straight from the glass to your scale.The solution? Drink plenty of water and eat whole fruit instead, or add a splash of juice to sparkling water for a less-sugary fizzy drink.