The holiday season can be stressful enough without worrying about your weight. If you’ve caught yourself feeling guilty about eating extra cookies (who wants to pass up delicious, free homemade goodies?) or worrying that you’ll never fit into your skinny jeans because of all the eggnog, here’s some good news: research shows you probably won’t gain as much weight as you think during the holiday season. The average person only gains about one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Even though this is much less than most people think they’ll gain, this pound tends to stay on from year to year. Overtime the annual holiday pounds build up on your waistline. That doesn’t have to happen, however.
In spite of the overwhelming amount of weight management information you’ve probably heard, it all comes down to one simple concept: Burn more calories than you eat. You can do this by eating less, burning more, or a combination of the two. Since few people want to deprive themselves of once a year tasty treats, burning more calories becomes the most realistic holiday weight management strategy.
Before you blow off the idea of cramming more gym time into your already packed holiday schedule, you might want to consider new ways of increasing your physical activity. Burning more calories could simply be a matter of being creative and working with what you’re already doing. To get started, try one these easy techniques for sneaking extra activity into your schedule.
1) When you’re doing your holiday shopping pick a parking spot at the back of the parking lot or park in a garage a few blocks away from where you’re going.
2) Instead of walking around juggling lots of shopping bags, make frequent trips to your car to drop off packages. In addition to logging in a little extra walking you also decrease your risk of being singled out by holiday thieves looking for easy targets.
3) Before you start shopping take an extra lap around the mall or the block. Walking briskly will make up the extra time.
4) If you’re wrapping a huge pile of gifts take a 30 second break every few items to run in place or do jumping jacks.
5) If you’re making frequent trips to the basement or attic for holiday supplies go up and down the steps an extra time.
6) If you’re doing a lot of decorating stop every 15 minutes to do 5-10 muscle toning activities like calf raises, lunges, sit ups or pushups. Muscles help burn calories.
7) While waiting for your baked goodies to come out of the oven use your counter or kitchen wall to do a few standing pushups.
As with all exercise it’s recommended to ask your doctor the best plan for you and to only do what your body tolerates. Remember: no matter how slow you’re going you’re moving faster than the people on the couch!
© 2011 Donna L. Hamilton, MD
A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.ManifestExcellence.com or www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com