The Holiday Hold ‘em Challenge

Reports of weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s tend to be all over the map. I’ve read that the average person puts on as much as 7-10 pounds, and I’ve also read reports that show the average gain is closer to 1 pound.

Whatever you choose to believe, it is undeniable that this is a time of year when our health can take a backseat to a) the temptations of holiday feasts, and b) the hustle and bustle that can suck up free time, making it more challenging than usual to eat right and stick with your workout regimen.

One study suggests that these holiday-season challenges are toughest for those who are already overweight. The Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that overweight or obese people typically put on close to 5 pounds during the holiday season. Another frightening finding of this study was that regardless of the amount of weight put on during the holidays, participants struggled to take it off, with holiday weight gains accounting for 51% of annual gains. Yikes!

The diet and exercise challenges of the holiday season are multi-fold:

  • The holiday parties filled with calorie-dense foods, liquid calories, and sweet temptations.
  • Then there’s the challenge of finding “me time” for working out.
  • Relentless shopping and other errands force many of us to eat on-the-go.The fast-food and processed foods that are most readily available at shopping malls tend to be higher in unhealthy fats, sugar, and other simple carbs that can be converted to fat in our bodies.

So, let’s get ahead of this, shall we?

This year, I encourage you to avoid that weight-gain by resetting your expectations with our Holiday Hold ‘em Challenge. Accept the fact that the challenges of the holiday season are very real. It’s hard enough just to maintain your current weight during the holidays. So put your weight-loss goals on hold and devote yourself to the more realistic goal of holding a consistent weight (or body-fat number) throughout the holiday season.

The American College of Sports Medicine reports that people who set smaller, relatively achievable fitness goals are far more likely to succeed at meeting them. So live a little. Enjoy the holidays.  Spend that oh-so-important time with friends and family. And don’t feel like you can’t eat any of the delicious food that comes your way. Just make sure you keep the treats to a minimum, and find time amid all the parties and shopping for a few workouts per week.

Though the holidays are about giving to others, don’t be afraid to make time for you. Remember that staying healthy benefits everyone you love.

To accept the Holiday Hold ‘em Challenge, here’s all you need to do:

  • Weigh In. Weigh yourself this first week of December and write down that starting weigh on the calendar.  Writing down your goal is an important step – it underlines your commitment and will help you succeed. That starting number is also your goal. All you have to do is maintain it.
  • Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of veggies, fruits, lean protein. Drink lots of water and limit empty carbs. And watch those treats.
  • Exercise. Continue to exercise 2-3 times a week. A 15-minute workout is better than no workout at all.
  • Weigh Out. Weigh yourself the week of January 1st to see how you did. Remember, body weight can vary depending on the time of day and the scale you use. So, if possible, weigh in and out at the same time of day and on the same scale.

Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

Paul Romeo, ACE-CPT

Master FitCoach


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