How to Prevent Weight Gain in the Midst of Tempting Holiday Meals

Holidays: the worst nightmare of dieters…

We’re constantly bombarded by yummy treats, from Christmas tree cookies to Thanksgiving stuffing, and I don’t believe any of them are on a sensible diet plan. I know what they say… it won’t ruin your whole day if you have ONE cookie, but if your family is anything like mine there is not just ONE cookie to choose from but TEN different choices (and let me tell you, it’s hard to just eat one). The holiday season is a time where temptations are high and exercise is the last thing on your mind when you have shopping, family parties, friend gatherings, and work festivities to attend. And what is the one thing that all these activities have in common? Eating and drinking are the two most common answers. Exercise just seems to fall on the back burner by default.

Holiday weight can can be prevented!

The 6-week period between holidays is optimal for packing on the pounds.

When I started writing this post, it occurred to me that my family could be an exception, so I did a little research. And what did I find? That the average American gains approximately 1 pound every year over the 6 week period from Thanksgiving to New Years, but most of the volunteers in the selection were convinced they had gained almost twice that amount. When New Year’s comes around and you feel bloated and uncomfortable, don’t freak out! You most likely didn’t do as much damage as originally thought.

The most obvious thing that can help or prevent the weight gain is to find time to exercise during the next few weeks. The tips below can be helpful for everyone from those of you that have a regular exercise routine to those that would just like to maintain their weight through the tough holiday months.

Tip #1: Park Farther Away from the Door

When you are crazy busy with shopping, going in and out of stores to try and find just the right gift, don’t take the closest parking spot you can find. Try to park in the back and get some more walking into your routine. The more walking you do, the more weight you will shed. I know what you are thinking…how is such a minimal thing really going to help me? But if you take a minute to think of all the shopping you have to do this season — from getting groceries for a party to a gift for your grandma — all the stops and parking will add up.

Tip #2: Don’t Go to Parties Hungry

Don't go to parties while you're hungry.

Eat healthy snacks before tackling the cookies!

If you know that tonight is your big work party and that your co-workers will bring wonderful, delicious, and calorie-packed foods, then try to eat something light and healthy before going. For example, an apple, yogurt, cheese stick, or carrots are good choices to get you satisfied (and without stuffing yourself). Not to mention, it’s always good to have a little something in your stomach. Especially if there are alcoholic drinks available at the party.

Tip #3: Take Family Walks the Morning After a Party

Take family walks the morning after a party.

Walks allow you to catch up on conversation and exercise.

Taking a walk with your kids or significant other is one fun way to catch up with them and squeeze in some exercise. During the walk, you can discuss the funny aunt that always brings the same gross pie or what your cousin is up to. This is a great way to slow down the fast pace of the holidays and get that cardio workout you’ve been putting off.

Tip #4: Don’t Fret Over the Time You Have to Exercise

If you can only find time to get on the treadmill for ten minutes, then don’t beat yourself up about it. Anything is better than nothing! You can fit a lot of movement into ten minutes, such as jump roping, jogging, stretching, light quick weight training, etc. A few minutes here and there will add up over the course of the holidays.

Other fun anti-weight-gain suggestions for time-pressed schedules:

  • Do a hundred jumping jacks before dinner every night
  • Wake up ten minutes earlier and do crunches and push-ups before you start your day
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Bring a healthy dish to pass so you know what to pile on your plate
  • Take ten minutes out of your lunch break to meditate and try and relieve the stress of family holidays
  • Play out in the snow with your kids or younger family members
  • At parties, try not to sit or stand next to the food area

These are just a few small ways to prevent weight gain during the holidays. Do you have any suggestions? Or is there something you try to do every year?


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  1. Jill Tooley

    Awesome tips, Ellyn! Thanks…I’ll definitely need them tomorrow!

    I think the easiest one is #1. It doesn’t take much effort to park further away from a store (and face it — the closer it gets to the holidays the further you’ll have to park anyway) and all of that walking really will add up during the season. I also love the idea of bringing your own food to parties so you know exactly what’s in it!

    Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • Amanda

      Agreed! Bringing a dish that you like and is healthy is an awesome idea for controlling the calories! Another top I’m going to use is to take smaller portions of each dish. I like to take some of just about everything, and by the time you get through each dish, your plate is piled high. So instead, I’m going to take smaller scoops of each, so I can still have everything, but not get stuffed!

      Great post Ellyn!

  2. amy

    My family and I are the biggest dorks every. We always go for a walk after our Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner, even if it’s 20 degrees and snowing out. After a while we just get tired of sitting, eating, sitting, eating, sitting, eating all day. So, hopefully we’ll see a few more people out and not feel like the weirdo neighbors out walking at 7 PM on Thanksgiving LOL

    Your other tips are great too! Eating something before a dinner is a great way to avoid gorging yourself once you’re there.

  3. Scooby

    I just walked in on three ladies meditating. Weird. I did try to do a few jumping jacks, however, 10 was 9 too many.

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I love tip 4, and that’s one that I need to start practicing myself. I’m usually under the mindset – even though I know it’s wrong – that ten minutes is pointless. However, if I can do just ten minutes a day, that really does start to add up.

    Thanks for the tips, Ellyn! I know I’ll need them tomorrow and for the myriad of holiday parties coming up!

  5. Jen

    Ellyn this is perfect timing! You mentioned some really great ideas here and you’re totally right about the little bits of exercise adding up. Great post!

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