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 Dieting is outdated thinking so forget about super low calorie restriction as research shows many people end up increasing their body mass index even further.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,
Strengthening our muscles requires more than just varying our exercise routines. Maintaining and increasing our strength requires that our muscles recover from a tough workout. Recovery from a tough workout is all about getting the right combination of rest and movement to circulate blood, yet not so much activity that we are implementing a new challenge to the body. Below are three interesting ways to let your body rest so you may become stronger.
1. Hot-Cold Therapy
Hot-cold contrast therapy is a method for rapidly flushing blood through the body. This is because immersion in cold water removes blood quickly from the limbs (and carries waste products from training away along with it) and immersion in warm water brings new blood back in. This accelerates the circulation of blood through the body. The problem is that most people have neither the means to access hot/cold baths nor the desire to do these types of regimens. Fortunately, there is a way to get the benefit of hot-cold contrast treatments for specific parts of the body. You’ll just need a good old-fashioned hot water bottle and wet washcloths.
- Put the washcloths in the freezer until they are frozen. Hang them on the door of your freezer so it freezes flat or place open flat on the racks.
- Once the cloths are frozen, put hot water in the hot water bottle
- Place the frozen cloth on or around your desired area of treatment for five to eight minutes
- Put the used frozen cloth back in the freezer and put the hot water bottle on your body part for five to eight minutes.
- Place the second frozen cloth on or around your desired area of treatment for five to eight minutes.
- Repeat step 4 and keep switching the cloths back and forth for several cyles.
3. Sleep – No Guilt
During sleep our body releases hormones designed to enhance our ability to recover from work. People vary in how much sleep they need, but research suggest that most of us require 7-8 hours of sleep. When I am in training for more vigorous tennis play and have a particularly hard day/week of training I love to sleep 9-10 hours! I know it’s not too cool to admit I enjoy sleeping this much, but it’s how my body recovers best.
For those who can’t seem to get to bed early enough to get the required amount of sleep, know that contrary to popular belief, you do not need to get all of your sleep in dose. What seems to matter as much for health and recovery as the total amount of sleep is the number hours of continuous wakefulness. Meaning, if you’re up for a high number of hours continuously, your body will be less than pleased. I love this as naps are my favorite pastime on the weekends after long hours on the tennis courts. Tip: Have no guilt for sleeping and utilize nap time as a way to get in your required sleep amount that is perfect for you.
3. Move and Have Fun/Enjoy
Movement brings blood flow for healing. But do not think of movement in the traditional sense such as, in a gym; And do not think of healing as in the case of injury. Rather, think of “fun recovery” from a good workout as healing the body and soul so that you may recover and get even stronger! Fun movement that you enjoy doing and that is not too physically demanding actually helps healing while immobility usually prolongs recovery and delays healing. Think fun. Think enjoyment. For me that means being outside riding bikes, walking with my husband, walking with the pups, or tossing a frisbee on the beach! And what about you? I would love to know!
Who Get’s Hip Pain?
Hip pain is a common problem for both ultra active people and sedentary people. It is the extremes of living at both ends of the activity spectrum that gets us into trouble with hip pain.
Chronic pain is a sign that there is irritation or injury at a site. There are a multitude of conditions that can cause hip pain, from trochanteric bursitis to osteoarthritis. The great news is that movement is the solution for many of these conditions.
When I have personal training clients with hip pain I often see that they are overly active/run/ walk/bike 40 miles a week or more, or are living a sedentary lifestyle sitting for many hours at a time. It’s hard not to be sedentary a lot of the time in today’s world. As I sit here and type this newsletter, I am sedentary. My hips are folded and collapsed as I slightly round my lower back and hunch my shoulders forward to type. If I were to stay in this position like many office workers do for extended periods of time, I could expect hip pain, and back pain to eventually creep into my daily life.
I once had hip pain so excruciating that I had given up all activity except light stretching for several weeks and then finally more movement based training as the inflammation subsided.
Though chronic hip pain is frequently improved through movement training, other causes of hip pain can be caused by serious injury. Make sure you see a doctor first if the pain is substantial.
Three Common Causes of Hip Pain
1) Chronic Sitting
The average American sits 13 hours a day. This staggering amount of inactivity causes an imbalance of the hip musculature. The hip flexors remain in a shortened position, while the glutes and deep hip rotators remain elongated. Add to that chronic dehydration and the result is tissue that more closely resembles beef jerky than healthy muscle tissue.
This tissue lacks the necessary flexibility and elasticity to allow for smooth and efficient movement. It tears more easily and becomes overstressed more easily, and the rigidity of the tissue leads to more rubbing against bone and bursae.
2) Strength Imbalance
A strength imbalance is not the same as tightness or in-elasticity. A strength imbalance occurs most often when one’s exercise regimen is consistent and unvaried. Runners are an excellent example of this type of athlete. Whether running 12 miles a week or 45 miles per week, runners often feel like they don’t need more or different exercise. The repetition of the same movement without variation builds strength in some muscles, while neglecting others. This imbalance puts an unnatural amount of strain on those muscles, resulting in overuse injury.
3) Skeletal Imbalance
Skeletal imbalance refers to the uneven stature or movement pattern that many people demonstrate, which can be caused by so many things, including old injuries and leg-length discrepancies. When movements are not even or balanced bilaterally, one side will be the victim of added pressure, tissue friction or workload. These clients often fall victim to conditions such as bursitis or piriformis syndrome.
Fortunately, the fix for many of these hip issues can be found in the right movements.
The best fix for immobility is mobility. Focus on improving range of motion of the hip flexors and hip rotators with gentle dynamic movement. For example, bodyweight squat and lunges.
||Bodyweight Squat Variation
||Bodyweight Lunge Variation
||Bodyweight Deep Hip Opener
|Healthy and strong
||Wide, deep squat
||Walking lunge with contralateral Rotation
||Walking lunges or split-stance squat
||Suspension trainer deep squats
|New or older exerciser
||Suspension trainer and/or box squat
||Modified split-stance squat
||Pain-free: suspension trainer and/or box squat
In my personal training business I aim to improve the elasticity of that beef jerky-like tissue by giving my clients stretching homework as well as weight loaded exercises to do daily between sedentary periods of time. Two to three hours of movement each week is not enough to undo 100+ hours of inactivity each week. My homework assignment for clients often looks like this:
||Static stretch shortened muscle tissue for more than 60 seconds at least once daily.
||Stand up and perform 10 bodyweight squats or chair sits every hour to get the muscles working and moving.
||Drink water all day. If you are well-hydrated, the hourly movement will pull water into the muscles, turning the jerky back into elastic tissue.
I like to tell my clients not to underestimate the importance of pure strength. Improving the overall strength of various types of lifts and squats can be a great contributor to regaining skeletal balance and achieving strength balance. Getting back to basics is often the best medicine. I believe that strong is good. And I also believe that contrary to some movement professionals that machine weights vs free weight/ body weight exercises can be tremendously helpful in conditioning the muscles to move in various planes safely while increasing the strength of the muscles and joints.
With any injury, use pain as your guide. If a movement hurts, don’t continue. And realize that sometimes small aches and pains do subside as you continue in a movement. If you are ever unsure, just give me a call, email or text and I’d be happy to help you make sense of it.
All My Best,