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5 tips to keep off the holiday weight

December 11, 2018 - 1:01 pm

It's true: most Americans gain 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  An NIH study found that 75% of post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan veterans are overweight, so frankly, we don't have the room in our pants to gain a couple more pounds.

Weight gain - or loss - isn't mysterious.  If you eat too many calories to support your level of movement, you gain weight.  It's that simple.  But there are several things you can do that don't scream "diet!" to keep the extra pounds at bay

Keep to your healthy routine.  

If you normally work out or exercise - keep it up. Feeling the rush of adrenaline from exercising will help you make good choices throughout the season. 

Continue your meal planning.  Pack healthy lunches and plan nutritious dinners.  Just because there are treats and parties to tempt you, that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel.  

Substitute healthy alternatives.

If you're throwing the party or bringing food for the potluck, look for ways to keep the spirit alive, but keep the food choices healthy.  The little things add up. (psst: that's how you gained the weight)  Think:

  • Cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes
  • Grilled fruit instead of pie
  • Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Whole grains instead of white flour
  • Coconut sugar instead of refined sugar

Look for fitness deals.

Give yourself a gift:  join a gym.  This is a slow time of the year for gyms (people drop off in droves because they choose parties and shopping over their fitness).  Take advantage of the discounts and deals.  At the very least, it'll get you ahead of the January "resolution" crowd who will join the gym to take off those extra winter pounds after the first of the year.  

Here's a secret though:  exercise alone will not help you lose weight.  You need to change what you put in your pie hole.  Exercise will build muscle (which burns fat), but you can out-eat that workout with a side order of french fries in 10 minutes flat.

    Sleep

    Yes, get more sleep.  Studies show over and over that people who sleep less are more likely to be overweight.  Sleep can boost your metabolism, regulate hunger hormones, and reduce inflammation. Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night, especially if you are working out.  When you work out, you stress your system.  When you sleep, your body rebuilds muscle. Your mom was right:  You. Need. More. Sleep.

    Go Booze-free during the week

    Wine, beer and alcohol are sugar.  They are empty calories that add up quickly.  But certainly, you've got holiday parties and events to attend.  Balance those splurge events by skipping that glass of wine with dinner on Tuesday, or that happy hour beer on Wednesday.  Eat and drink "clean" during the week so you can enjoy the weekends.

    And lastly, when you are ready to get into a great nutrition and fitness routine, use the VA's MOVE! program.  Read it now, commit to it on January 1, 2019.