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Which holiday weight-control plan will work best for you?


The Latest Idea Food and Nutrition Tips mentions that a study by the National Institutes of Health, one of the world’s foremost medical centers, shows that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day (six weeks) accounts for 51 percent of the typical American’s yearly weight gain.

You might be reading numerous tips but still find it hard to follow even a single strategy because it wouldn’t match your weight-control progress status and self-control skills. In fact, how you’ve fared during the previous months will play a big role in how you can effectively control your weight during the holiday season.

Scenario 1

You’ve lost a significant amount of weight this year and would love to continue weight-loss efforts even during the holidays.

Strengths: Now you have more control over food and/or can make time for exercise, so you can manage to eat smaller and choose healthier options during parties and family gatherings. You also know how much physical activity you need to burn extra calories.

Biggest challenge: Your ability to resist food temptations will depend on your diet history, change of food environment and weight-control skills. If you are feeling deprived with the diet that made you lose a significant amount of weight, then a sudden change of environment, schedule and companions might make you forget about your goals.

Your holiday action plan:  To avoid feeling deprived, don’t be too obsessed with losing weight. Aim for weight maintenance so you have time to taste your favorite Christmas foods (while applying portion control) without feeling guilty. This is a good time to focus on balancing your life physically and emotionally so you have more reasons to continue a healthy lifestyle.

I strongly recommend that you start your lifestyle journal so you can stay on track. Do body weight exercises like squats and pushups to avoid muscle wasting. Choose walking as an alternative exercise.

Scenario 2

You just maintained your weight or did not lose much weight this year, but you’ve made efforts to control your eating and managed to exercise consistently.

Strengths: You might not have discovered your best eating strategy, but you have made exercise a part of your lifestyle.  Your fitness level has significantly improved, so you can try different workouts to sustain motivation and burn more.

Biggest challenge: You might be hungry most of the time because of your exercise load, so food availability will be a big challenge this season. You might even stick to your old thinking of eating whatever you want because you can still burn it with exercise. However, holiday foods are really high in calories, and will be harder for you to burn.

Your holiday action plan: Try to do a moderate but more frequent exercise, so you don’t really get so hungry during the day. Make sure that healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads, seafoods, poultry and lean cuts of meat are readily available at home.  Eat on time and have some healthy 150- to 300-calorie low-fat snacks like yogurt, fruits and wheat crackers/bread.

You need more real foods for energy and effective recovery instead of sweets, alcohol and junk foods. Read nutrition labels and orient yourself with the calorie values of holiday foods, so you don’t eat so much of these and you don’t over-exercise.

Calories from Christmas foods:

6 oz prime rib, 600; a piece of deep-fried chicken breast with skin, 350; slice of cheesecake, 500; a scoop of ice cream, 300; a 30 g slice of Queso de Bola, 90; 1 serving bibingka, 600;  a cup of hot chocolate, 200; a bottle of beer, 150; single shot of liquor, 125; a glass of soda, 150.

Scenario 3

You’ve repeatedly lost and gained weight during the year (maybe you’re even heavier now than at the start of this year).

Strengths: Your motivation is always high when it comes to achieving your weight-loss goals. You will do everything whatever it takes just for you to lose weight. Because of the numerous strategies you’ve tried, you can now tell what worked and what did not for you.

Biggest challenge: Since you haven’t achieved your goal yet for this year, you might get tempted to start your weight-control attempts in January and just enjoy the rest of the year by indulging in your favorite holiday treats, and/or discontinue your workout program. You might also have the all-or-none thinking that would consider a slight lapse as a total failure, so you might as well quit for now and just try again next time.

Your holiday action plan: Condition your mind to think in moderation, instead of obsessing on the weight. The holiday break can be a good time for you to ask help from a weight-loss coach or counselor to address some underlying issues that cause weight obsession, extreme dieting and emotional eating. Stay away from fad diets and start creating the best eating plan that suits you with the help of a professional.

Scenario 4

You did not really exert any effort to control weight this year, and just recently got inspired to lose weight.

Strengths: You might really be so inspired right now to change your lifestyle because you choose to control your weight during the most challenging time of the year. This is also a good sign that you will have a good start for the year. You will make strong efforts to lose or control weight.

Biggest challenge: Since you are just starting and you did not really have enough weight-control foundations during the year, it will be very easy to stop your efforts anytime when faced by Christmas buffets, family meals and long vacation.

Your holiday action plan: Start your program right by consulting with a doctor first to rule out health problems, and then by seeing a weight-loss and exercise professional who can guide you on your journey. This is the perfect time to get a gym membership or sign up for exercise sessions in specialty exercise studios. It is also advisable to get a like-minded weight-control buddy or support group to strengthen your exercise motivation, food control and assertiveness from food pushers.



E-mail the author at mitchfelipe@gmail.com Follow her on Twitter @mitchfelipe.

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Tags: Food , Holiday , Lifestyle , Nutrition , weight control

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