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Have Yourself a Skinny, Merry Christmas

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Holiday time almost always means weight gain for many of us. However, the truth is that the hugest increase is one that doesn’t occur. Let me explain. In an article in the New York Times from quite a few years ago, Tara Parker-Pope referenced actual studies rather than opinion about weight gain during the holiday season.

Opinion clearly claims weight gains of anywhere between 7 and 10 pounds during the time between Thanksgiving and New Years. If you ask people how much they actually gain, they report more like 3 to 5 pounds and some studies show the average person only gains about a single pound during the holiday season.

But the truth is whether it is only a single pound or ten pounds, the extra weight is unwanted and swiftly becomes part of our New Year’s resolution to lose weight and make healthier choices when it comes to food. So the question isn’t really one of how much but rather more of how to avoid weight gain entirely.

For millions of us, this is no easy feat. There are foods that some of us wait all year long to partake in and keeping things within a healthy proportion when it comes to them is not easy. For a large number of people, the weather is also a deterrent to outdoor exercise this time of year and it doesn’t take much to discourage those of us who are not really athletically inclined.

Now add to the desire to eat and drink preferred foods and the hindrance regarding exercise, the hustle and bustle of the season with parties and shopping and such; the likelihood that the average person will increase their overall caloric intake is pretty much a sure thing.

So, what’s a weight-conscious gal to do? If the goal is to stay on course with a weight loss regime, is there no hope?

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is that while exercise is extremely important for weight loss as well as health in general, caloric and fat intake are the heavies when it comes to weight loss. If you are serious about keeping extra weight off, you’ll have to consume fewer calories and less fat…no two ways about it.

Of course not! Here are a few simple practices that should keep your weight loss efforts fueled and your weight loss results a happy holiday surprise if you’ve struggled with this and have not been successful in the past.

• Substitute Lower Fat – Lower Calorie Recipes - If your house is like ours, there is a lot more cooking and baking going on this time of year. By working with lower calorie, lower fat versions of your favorite foods (and the internet is loaded with them in both save and print options,) you can still have the foods you love without packing on the extra pounds.
• Go the Distance – While many of us won’t make the special effort to go out and exercise, once we are already out and running errands and such, we don’t have park close to the door. By taking on walking a bit more or taking stairs rather than elevators or escalators, we can keep our metabolism running a little bit faster.
• Two Step for Holiday Cheer – With holiday music to be found filling the air waves more every day (the internet also is a great source for finding your favorite holiday tunes,) don’t forget that dancing is a great and fun way to burn calories. Even if it is just bopping around the room, the extra movement will get your heart rate up.
• Watch your Impulses – There is bound to be extra food at places you normally frequent like the company break room or friends’ and family’s coffee tables. Make the effort to be mindful of what you’re eating and why. If you’re not really hungry, do with less or maybe even without.
• Liquid counts as Calories too – It is easy to forget that many adult beverages (especially those that contain alcohol) are usually high in calories. If you’re trying to keep daily intakes down, don’t forget to include beverage calories that you consume in your totals.

The truth is that food and drink are sideshows to a happy holiday, not the main attraction. Keeping things balanced and in proportion will help you have a wonderful guilt-free holiday!

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