Avoiding weight gain over the festive season
It is often written that the average person gains 4lbs over the festive season. In fact, it is less – studies of large numbers of people indicate that on average around 1.5lb is more likely – but the fact remains that the holiday season is a great opportunity to sink a diet and grow a waistline.
The reality of diets is that there are times when a person is strong and times when a person is vulnerable to slips in the regimes we tend to put ourselves under. Holidays, starting in Thanksgiving and ending on new years day, are a vulnerable time for all of us. For those who are already overweight or just starting their exercise regime, it is a time to be especially careful. Studies have shown that people who are already overweight can gain as much as 6kg (13lb) over the same period. Whether you are already at your goal weight, about to start, or on the treadmill to make change, now is the time to put plans into effect to make sure you don’t have that terrible feeling come January.
Rule 1 - Move
As Carol Welch once said “movement is a medicine for creating change in a persons physical, emotional, and mental states”. Compared to a person who is sedentary or works in an office all day with no exercise, a lightly active person will burn an extra 160 calories a day. An active person will burn an extra 500 calories a day. So don’t take the life, take the stairs. Walk when you could get a taxi cab or an uber. Do something. Remember, if you are moving you are burning, and burning calories is what makes all the difference.
Rule 2 - Don’t snack
Lets be honest. You don’t need to eat between meals, and especially not sugar or fat laden treats. Common snack foods such as crisps, biscuits or bread based snacks contain high levels of sugar, fat and salt, and simply don’t work for maintaining weight levels. A slip can add 300-400 calories to the slate, and doing it every day is a recipe for massive weight gain. If its 3.30pm, you had a good lunch and you are looking forward to dinner, but the hunger pangs simply won’t give in, make the time for a low carb protein shake. Your body will thank you.
Rule 3 - Get plenty of sleep
Yes, we are serious. This really matters. One study found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, even though their calories stayed equal. Not enough sleep and you won’t lose weight, and everything we say from now won’t matter. So cut the coffee and the late night movies, and hit the hay.
Rule 4 - Control your stress levels
Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a lack of time, a lack of money and the pressure of gift giving over the festive season. How you feel impacts on your quality of life, and it impacts on your weight. Stress increases the release of cortisol in your body, which in turn stimulates your appetite and, for a variety of complex reasons, makes you crave fats and sugars, and also causes your body to release adrenaline into your bloodstream. The end result is the release of glucose into your blood stream and weight gain. Whats worse is that having cortisol in your system also makes it harder for you to lose weight. A huge stress related weight gain cycle.
So be ready for it this holidays. Acknowledge the stress, reach out to those who love you and communicate authentically, be realistic about what you can and can’t do,, stick to a budget and above all, plan ahead. Life is not a dress rehearsal and stress is a major contributor to ill-health. It is entirely within our control to limit it.
Rule 5- Defer to Protein and watch the carbs
When all else fails and you can’t avoid snacking, defer to protein. Protein decreases hunger and appetite in two main ways. Firstly, it increases the levels of appetite reducing hormones, and secondly it helps you feel full for longer. Whether its meat, non-meat protein options, or a protein shake, be smart and take the protein option. .
Rule 6 - Limit the liquid calories
Ah, is there anything better than a cold alcoholic beverage in the holiday season? Well….no….but be smart about it. We don’t advocate drinking to excess, but if you are to imbibe, the lowest calorie forms of celebratory drinking involve vodka or gin, are mixed with diet soda or water, and involve a glass of water in between every beverage. Stay away from the cocktails, sweet wines and sugar treats.
The holiday season is a great opportunity to recharge, find our feet and get ready for the new year. As always, spare a thought for those first responders and defence personnel who don’t get the chance for a holiday season and for those that can’t be with their loved ones for whatever reasons.
For the rest of us, xmas is the time where we need to re-double our training efforts and think through our goals for the new year. Grab your Old Man Strength gear here and train hard. Stay old man strong.