Holiday Weight Gain: Knowledge vs. Implementation
During the holidays, people are aware of what they should or shouldn’t be eating, and aware of how much simply snacking on alternative healthy snacks can make a difference in holiday weight gain. But, few make the move to implement this practice.
When people are time constricted, in convivial carefree spirits, and there are festive foods and drinks all around, it can take a huge amount of will power and motivation not to over indulge and gain weight.
Here’s the thing: food and drink tips are obsolete if we cannot implement them. What to do? Here is a 3 step approach that is practical and smart.
- Develop a new perspective. The holiday season is no time to expect herculean will power. Accept that this time of year you are at a high risk for holiday weight gain and for not maintaining your fitness goals. Be realistic. Have a plan but do not be too hard on yourself.
- Develop a plan for weight maintenance. Ironically we have a plan for most everything in our lives but when it comes to health maintenance we expect a healthy weight should come naturally. Dieting is outdated thinking so forget about super low calorie restriction as research shows many people end up increasing their body mass index even further.
- Develop an off course plan. Many people are stuck in the self berating system of punishment for overindulgence or poor eating practices. They may engage in silly behaviors such as longer and more difficult workouts, as well as severely restricted daily calories. Do the opposite. A few days of poor eating and drinking practices calls for a few days of pampering ourselves. It is difficult on the mind, body, and soul to feel out of control of our normal routines, so why would we punish ourselves further? My off course plan: One day of low intensity exercise such as walking, biking or strolling outdoors. Then, also do the following:
- Lots of water including my favorite Pellegrino mineral water.
- Reading time that gets me thinking forward again.
- A warm bath just prior to bed and before an early 6 pm dinner.
- Early to bed and lots of rest.
My Personal Plan for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain:
- Make a weekly schedule of parties/dinners attending.
- Plan on exercising longer the day of the event. I use this technique not as a calorie burner but as a confidence builder. I am less apt to eat and drink poorly if I feel good about myself. Exercise is a confidence builder and keeps me centered.
- Schedule tennis or another activity with a friend the morning after an event. I disappoint myself if I feel I played poorly due to poor eating/drinking habits. For me competition is a huge motivator to eat and drink modestly
- Lastly, I consistently ask myself what I want to feel like when the holidays are over. I never want to feel I am beginning over. I understand how food and drink overindulgence can change life’s outlook on life, and I know there is a direct correlation between what I eat and drink and how I feel about life. It makes all the difference.
- If I overindulge I am quick to get right back to my regular routine and even throw in a little self pampering. Research shows that people who quickly get back to their dietary routines and exercise are the most successful at maintaining their health and their weight. See step 3 below.
Considering dietary tips to prevent weight gain during the holidays is important. But what is more important is gaining a healthy lifelong perspective and having a few individualized tactics to help you along during “high risk” times such as the holiday season. Consider spending time during the holidays to find your own motivation and create an individualized plan of health and happiness for you.
So happy to post this inspirational letter from a 30 Day to Lean member (a year after our working together):
“I am a 70 year old man enjoying my family, my faith, golf, the beach, gardening, reading, music and yes, food. I have both an engineering master’s degree and an MBA and worked for over 30 years using both degrees. When I married my wonderful, caring wife 50 years ago, I was 6 feet tall and weighed 135 lbs. The thin man days faded away during my working years as I gained 60 pounds, stopped exercising, and slowly but surely took on high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. In 2001, my wife and I retired and moved to Florida where we met Kim Miller, founder of Body Smart. Kim has always encouraged me to eat and work out smartly but, as is often is the case, I had difficulty internalizing her message.
In 2010, on the golf course, my hand went numb. I had suffered a very mild stroke that fortunately left no side effects. I weighed 215 pounds and was taking both blood pressure and high cholesterol meds. I became determined to lose some weight and get more exercise. I tried cutting back on the eating and using the treadmill more. And through my efforts, although a little haphazard, I did lose 15 pounds. So, in 2015 I still weighed 200 lbs and had low energy.
It was at that time that I became aware of Kim’s 30 Days to Lean Program. I thought at the time, this may work for me – a prescribed meal plan with recipes, no mandatory meetings and I’d get some coaching from Kim. So I signed up. Over the next few months I went from 200 pounds to 170 pounds and never felt hungry and always felt energetic. The recipes are appetizing and filling. Even more importantly, on top shedding pounds, my cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are now normal.
These kinds of messages inspire me to keep doing what I am doing. Have you sustained an injury and found it tough to get back on track?
It’s never too late to start the process. Read my post on Getting Back Into Shape After an Injury.
And, if you want to find out more about my 30 Days to Lean program, you can go here on my site or reach out to me via email
All my best,
It’s never too late to gain strength. Our bones and muscles have an innate capacity to respond to stimuli by growing in size, density and strength.
Here’s how to smartly begin.
In the beginning stages of a weight training routine, it’s necessary to take 3-4 weeks to learn proper technique while keeping the weights light.
Think of this process as setting the stage for smart progressive gains in strength, muscle tone, and muscle density. Skipping these two factors of proper technique and light weight in the initial stage increases the occurrence of injury. Injury is the number one reason people stop training. Don’t let this be you.
Keep the weight light enough that you can practice good form without any struggle. The temptation to increase the weight amount will be looming, but realize it is the tendons and ligaments of the body that really need sensible conditioning in these opening weeks. Be patient. Be smart.
To Hire a Trainer or Not ?
If there was ever a time to hire a trainer it’s in the opening weeks of a weight training routine. A good trainer will show you what machines to use, how to set them up, and what weight to start with. A really good trainer will help you in those opening weeks to make sense of a routine suitable for you. This should involve asking many questions about your lifestyle, how much time you can commit to exercise, what type of job you have, past injuries, health status, motivation levels, reasons for initiating a strength program and other pertinent information that willhelp develop a plan that is suited for you and you’ll likely implement consistently.
A really good trainer will also add perspective on how best to adhere to the program and will transition you through various aspects of learning to strength train. A good trainer is well worth the money as making sense of the implementation of a strength routine is paramount when considering that most people do not continue a strengthening program for longer than a few weeks.
Going It Alone?
If, for some reason you need to begin a strength program on your own, most gyms have attendants that can show you how to use the machines. There should be no cost for them to show you how to set up each machine. If you never strength trained before in your life, and you will be training on your own, have the gym’s attendant or preferably a personal trainer show you these five exercises.
Getting Started On Your Own
Leg Press– press through the heels and keep head back.
Latissimus Dorsi Pull Down-keep chest upright throughout and lean slightly back.
Chest Press– keep head back and engage chest muscles to press.
Seated Shoulder Press With Dumbells – back supported and palms facing in.
Standing Bicep Curl Against Wall– knees slightly bent and stand against wall for support.
Repetitions and Sets
Practice 15 repetitions of each exercise in the order as desribed above. Repeat this cycle one more time. Practice slowly and deliberately and use a light enough weight that 15 repetitions are not a strain.
Practice this routine 2-3 times a week for the first three weeks preferably having a day or two off in between. Increase the weights by no more than 15% each week. Remember, your goal in the opening weeks is to practice good form and allow your tendons and ligaments to get adjusted to the increased workload to come.
When you leave the gym you should feel like you could easily continued doing more. Don’t be tempted to increase your weights, repetitions or sets. This is a mistake that will ultimately increase the likelihood that you will dread going to the gym your next session. We are not just training our bodies, but we are also training our minds. It’s a process of adjustment and by honoring this you’ll increase the likelihood of making strength training a lifelong habit.
All My Best,