Exposing The Holiday Weight Gain Myth
By Bob Wells, CPT, PES
The rumors of the “holiday weight gain” are greatly exaggerated. This notion has been foisted upon us like that of the existence of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny--entertaining and very profitable to fitness professionals, but false nevertheless.
The five to eight pound weight that many fitness professionals warn against is in reality much less. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average weight gain during the holiday period is about one pound. This minuscule weight gain is hardly the doomsday scenario that many portray.
Despite this new evidence, you should not view it as carte blanche to consume whatever you want during the holidays. While the actual weight gain during this period is quite harmless, it is the after effects that can be quite pernicious.
In addition to reinforcing bad dietary habits, such as skipping meals to eat a much larger, more delicious one later, holiday weight is not usually taken off in the subsequent year. Your one or two pound gain this holiday period becomes five to ten pounds in the next few years.
Dr. Jack A. Yanovski, MD., who is the head of Growth and Obesity at the National Institutes of Health, says that those small weight gains can cause major medical problems. More than half of Americans are overweight, and excess weight sets the stage for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The real challenge for the epicureans out there is to balance enjoying the holiday delicacies without the angst that can come with the battle. Instead of bemoaning your fate, try these tips to make your next holiday a healthy and a delicious one.
- Don't skip meals. The idea that you can save calories for the next meal went out with powdered wigs and the horse and buggy. You are simply priming your body to be a fat storing machine, since mealtime can't be predicted and calories must be preserved. Eat small meals every 3-4 hours to maintain normal blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of binge eating. (For more info, check out Sculpting the Perfect Body : One Bite at a Time)
- Don't stress the dessert. If you're looking forward to that slice of pumpkin pie, enjoy it. Constantly depriving yourself of such culinary delights will make you miserable and actually decrease your willpower.
- Work it out. Whether you take a walk after dinner or sign up for a Turkey Trot, exercising has multiple benefits. Exercise makes you feel better and can be a fun way to keep you cognizant of your fitness goals.
Follow these steps and take a sensible approach to food and drink during the holidays. You will make your next one happy, healthy, and delicious!!