5 Easy Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Army fitness run.
Soldiers from Task Force Sinai and the Guam Army National Guard start the 2,000 meter run portion of a 9/11 memorial workout in Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt on September 11, 2019. (U.S. Army/Mark Scott)

It's easier to gain weight during the two-month period between Halloween and New Year's Day than any other time of the year.

From colder weather to football season, holiday parties, having snacks all over the house and office, and huge feasting holidays, it is no wonder why everyone is ready to start a "resolution" by the time the new year comes.

The list below includes ways to stay ahead of the weight gain curve by considering a few minor tweaks to your day:

1. Don't Quit. The most important thing is to keep the habit of working out or physical activity on your schedule. Stick to your workout even when extra travel, late work hours and excessive social events interfere with the best intentions. You may have to be flexible and do something for a shorter time before or after work, even if it is only walking or a quick PT pyramid. The best way to avoid holiday weight gain is not to get out of the exercise habit.

2. Walk It Off. Keep walking or add walking throughout the day in multiple sessions. Walk before every meal, even if only for 10 minutes. Walk longer in parking lots (be safe) when at work or shopping. Take regular breaks every hour at work to walk to the bathroom. A good way to remember to do that is to drink water throughout the day so you have to get up regularly. Otherwise, set a timer for 60 to 90 minutes and remind yourself to walk for three to four minutes around the office, up and down stairs, or to your car and back to get some fresh air. You will find this quick getaway helpful with productivity as well.

3. Like Football? Keep Moving. Football season gets many Americans to sit still for hours several days a week. Try to get up during commercials, walk during halftime or actually bring the treadmill or stationary bike into the TV room. If you walk during commercials, you will accumulate about 20 minutes of activity per hour of watching television.

4. Avoid Game-Time Snacking and Drinking. This is a tough one and requires discipline. It is easy not to move for hours during a game and add in another 500 to 1,000 calories of soda, beer, chips and other game-time foods. Keep moving, as detailed above, and you will limit your ability to put food and drinks into your mouth. After a game, you can break even or have a 500- calorie surplus or deficit -- it just depends on how you control snacking and being sedentary.

5. Twenty-Minute Challenge. When time is tight, try to get at least a daily minimum standard of activity, even if it is just 20 minutes. See how much you can do in 20 minutes. How far can you walk in that time (or total accumulated walks)? How far can you bike or swim in 20 minutes? How high can you move through the PT Pyramid in that time? Can you get into the gym and do a 20-minute gym circuit of as many machines as possible?

Any of these ideas will help you burn off steam and make you feel like you did something. Fit this 20 minutes into your lunch, before work or after dinner if you have to. You will find that you will sleep better as well.

In the end, it comes down to discipline. You need discipline not to break old training habits while creating new bad habits of binge-eating and binge-watching television (without activity). I know it is easier said than done, but this season will not last forever, and you will wish you had not forsaken your health and fitness once the weather turns nicer.

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