The holiday season is in full swing, and that means that the average American will gain approximately 1.3 pounds before the calendar flips to 2017 - pounds that generally remain with us throughout the new year. To avoid "being average" this holiday season but still enjoy all of the festivities that this time of year brings, I have 3 simple steps you can follow for the entire month of December to avoid holiday weight gain without sacrificing fun with family and friends.
Step #1 - Establish your Daily Bare Minimums and stick to them every day in December, no matter what. Most diets fail because they are too restrictive to follow long term, and certainly the holiday season is not the time to try to enforce overly stringent diet and fitness rules. Daily Bare Minimums (DBMs) are simple, healthy habits that you do on a daily basis, regardless of how hectic and chaotic your life is. It is critical that your DBMs are easy enough that you are 90+% certain that you will be able to successfully complete them every single day. They should focus on areas of your life that need improvement so that they help you progress on your health and fitness journey. I recommend choosing three DBMs and no more - one that focuses on nutrition, one that focuses on fitness/movement, and one that focuses on lifestyle. My December DBMs, for example, include eating produce (a fruit or veg) at every meal or snack, engaging in purposeful movement for at least 20 minutes every day, and limiting my daily to-do lists to only 3 items. Once you check the box on your DBMs, regardless of what happens the rest of the day, consider that day a resounding success!
Step #2 - Create a rule around alcohol consumption. One of the biggest culprits of holiday weight gain is alcohol, not only because alcoholic drinks can be calorie bombs in themselves (one cup of spiked eggnog can add up to more than 400 calories, which is a quarter of the daily calorie allotment for the "average" woman), but also because drinking can lower your inhibitions and cause you to munch (and munch, and munch) on lots of high-calorie foods (and consume greasy and fattening breakfasts the next day to "cure" your hangover). This holiday season, I recommend creating a "rule" for yourself when it comes to alcohol consumption. That does not have to mean avoiding alcohol completely (although it could), but it may mean limiting yourself to 1-2 drinks per day (which is what is recommended from a health perspective, by the way). Or drinking a glass of water after each drink before having another. Or only drinking at parties and never at home. Or having no more than 7 drinks each week. Pick your poison and follow your self-designed rule for the entire month, and you will save yourself hundreds - if not thousands - of calories, and probably a hangover or two (which makes sticking with your fitness DBM much easier, too!).
Step #3 - Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. As a new mom to an infant and a puppy who is trying to start up a blog, training for her kettlebell instructor certification, and keeping a household in (somewhat) working order, I can fully relate with those of you who find getting the recommended 7-8+ hours of sleep every night a challenge. With the stress and chaos of the holiday season, however, there is likely no other habit that will benefit your health more than getting your zzz's. The studies are clear - the more sleep-deprived you are, the more weight you are likely to gain, not only because sleep deprivation causes your body to release cortisol and hold onto fat, but also because getting insufficient sleep causes you to eat more (some 300 calories more a day - which adds up to a 2 1/2-pound weight gain during the month of December!) because it increases your hunger hormone (ghrelin) and decreases your satiety hormone (leptin). It is also unlikely that you will be as physically active during the day if you did not get enough sleep at night, so if there is one thing you can do this month to help stave off the holiday weight gain, it is to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every single night. No matter what.
There you have it. 3 simple steps to avoid being average this December. Here's wishing you an amazing (and weight gain-free) holiday season!
Until next time, be happy and healthy,
Hello, friends! I’m Kathleen, the Kettlebell Mama. Welcome to bells & peppers – a blog dedicated to all things related to fitness, nutrition and healthy living. As an athlete, trainer, nutritionist, cooking instructor, attorney, senior executive and new mom, I have learned how to balance my personal health and fitness goals with paying the bills, spending quality time with family and friends and pursuing a demanding career – without losing my mind! My goal is to inspire, empower and provide you with simple strategies to help you become your healthiest self in a balanced, realistic and sustainable way. Feel free to read more about my story here. Thanks for visiting bells & peppers!