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How to Keep the Pounds Off Over the Holidays

Murrieta Family YMCA

The holidays are almost here … Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, the recipe for weight gain is set. For many people, a gain of 5 to 10 pounds is common during the holidays. However, getting the weight off can be a challenge. Having a game plan going into the holidays is the key to success. Here are a few tips to help you keep the pounds off.

Don’t deprive yourself. Just have three or four bites instead of three pieces of pie. Remember, everything in moderation. Moderation is the key to not feeling deprived and keeping yourself in balance. Whether it pertains to your exercise program, your healthy eating plan or any other activities, making small, but consistent adjustments will help you stay on track, feel better and perform at your best. Studies show that the more deprived a person feels, the more preoccupied they become with food. If you allow yourself to have a few bites instead of depriving yourself, you will feel less like eating the whole pie later.

Step up your activity level to offset the extra calories. The holidays are a busy time, so try to make it a priority to get to the Y, if that’s not realistic, challenge yourself to find an extra 30 minutes in your day for physical activity. By burning 300 calories per day beyond what you normally burn, you will offset some of the extra calories you will inevitably take in. According to the American College of Sports Medicine you can get your exercise in 10-minute segments of time and it is just as effective as if you exercise for a full 30 minutes. During the holidays it is hard to fit a block of exercise time into a busy schedule, but we can all find 10 minutes to walk, bike ride or just being more active.

Eat Slowly. Do not rush the meal. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that you’re full, so any meal should last at least that long! Take your time, eat slowly, and enjoy your family and friends.

Find healthy and low calorie recipes to take to holiday dinners. The buffet is usually loaded with delicious high calorie comfort food. With a little planning and creativity, you can make an addition to the buffet that tastes good and is healthy. When in doubt, bring grapes, raw vegetables and low-calorie dip, or other healthful dish. You know that you will have something to eat that is good and good for you.

Have a healthy snack before a holiday dinner so you don’t eat so much. Snacks have gotten a bad rap for ruining appetites, but it’s a charge that is undeserved. Snacks can actually help curb your appetite so that you do not overeat during a meal or dinner party. The right kind of snack, such as a handful of walnuts or almonds, can also regulate blood sugar and keep hunger away.

Don’t skip meals. During the holidays it is often tempting to skip meals. However, if you eat regular meals, you allow your body to maintain a consistent blood sugar level. It is important to plan your meals and snacks throughout the day. Starving yourself all day and then eating all evening is not an effective plan for weight maintenance. It has also been shown that people who eat breakfast fare better throughout the day than people who do not.

Don't go back for second helpings. Whether you're at a buffet table or an appetizer table, fill your plate once and do not go back.

Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. Studies have proven a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. People who don’t get enough sleep often have a challenge curbing feelings of hunger. Leptin, the hormone that tells the brain there is no need for food decreased 18 percent in people who are deprived of sleep. These same people had the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger, increase by 28 percent.

Plan what and how much you will eat at parties. Choose to take a small piece of cake, but skip the chips. If you have a general plan, you will be able to enjoy the party and meet your self-imposed expectations and goals. You will feel in control before, during and after the event.

Drink water – It has zero calories and can prevent mindless eating. Water has many benefits. We need water to feel hydrated, which may keep sleepiness at bay. If we drink water before meals, we will also feel less hungry.

Remember that drinks do count towards your calorie intake. Be conscious of how many calories you take in from hot toddies, holiday punches, or other drinks that contain sugar or alcohol. While these drinks add significantly to your calorie intake, they may not curb your appetite for food. If you want to enjoy a little more food, save the calories from the drinks and choose water instead.

Be easy on yourself. If you veered off track at the family gathering on Saturday, there is no reason for you not to get back to your goals on Sunday. Don’t get discouraged and punish yourself psychologically; it is counter-productive.

Keeping the above tips in mind will help you keep the pounds off and enjoy all the holidays have to offer--without the guilt. If you have any questions regarding this article, or you’re having difficulty reaching your goals, feel free to contact one of our Fitness professionals for assistance.

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Murrieta, CA 92563
(951) 239-4605
November 2015
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