Many of us who walk do so at least in part due to the weight control benefits we get from walking. Walking can help you lose weight and then keep it off. It can also help you avoid putting on those pesky holiday pounds. Try these tips this year for preventing holiday weight gain.
1—Add 10 minutes a day of brisk walking to your regimen. Those ten minutes will burn an additional 30 to 40 calories per day. If you do this (in addition to your regular exercise), you will burn an additional 210 to 280 calories per week, approximately. For more precise calorie-burning numbers, read Formulas for Burning Calories with Walking.
2—Add some strength training to your routine. Start with simple things you can do without buying equipment. Wall pushups, crunches, squats and lunges are great exercises that you can squeeze in while watching TV or in-between kitchen chores. Strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories (even while you are sleeping).
3—Drink water to stay hydrated. Many experts say that we overeat because we are really thirsty. Don’t let yourself succumb to the high-calorie nibbles you’ll find everywhere during the holiday season just because you haven’t had enough water.
4—Just say no. If you don’t buy or make those holiday goodies, you won’t be able to polish them off at bedtime while watching television or during your afternoon rush to meet your deadlines. Try to limit yourself to one treat per day, eaten and thoroughly enjoyed. You’ll find it so much more satisfying than inhaling 12 pecan tartlets just because they are there.
5—If you cook or bake during the holidays, try these tricks:
--Make things you don’t personally love. For example, I make good banana bread, according to others. I wouldn’t know because I do not like banana bread. I do love pumpkin bread or zucchini bread and if I make it, I will eat it. So, I make banana bread and let others enjoy it.
--For other holiday treats you make, either serve it soon (Make pies the day of or the day before an event) or give it away immediately. I make what is lovingly called “Christmas Crack Candy” every year and give it to family, friends and even business clients. It is highly requested (addictive even–hence the “crack” in the name). I make it at night and it has to cool, which takes hours. Then, I get up the next morning and package it and deliver it that day. If it stays in my house, I keep going back for more. So, I make sure it gets out of here fast.
6—Weigh yourself. It’s tempting during the “treating season” to skip weigh-ins until January. Sort of a psychological “out of sight, out of mind” trick we play with ourselves. If we don’t really know we’re gaining weight, we can pretend we’re not. So, make a pact to weigh and record your weight once a week. In this case, knowledge is power.
7—Veggies and hummus. If you keep healthy alternatives on hand, like cut up veggies and hummus or your favorite healthy dip, then you will be much less likely to grab the chocolate chips and eat them right out of the bag when the holiday stress gets to be too much. Veggies give you that satisfying crunch that helps so much during stressful times and you get vitamins and fiber, too.
8—Choose beforehand what you will eat. Make decisions about what you really want to enjoy eating during the holidays and forego the rest. If you really want your mother’s cornbread dressing, have some, but skip the green bean casserole or the mashed potatoes you feel so-so about. Ditto for dessert: Have a small slice of your favorite and relish it. Skip the ones you don’t really enjoy.
9—Plan calorie-burning activities. Almost everyone looks forward to time with family and friends more than the food anyway, so plan some activities where you can enjoy each other’s company and burn off some of those calories. A game of touch football, a walk in a nearby park or around the block, a scavenger hunt outdoors, a leisurely bike-ride and other physical activities can create some great memories and is good for everyone. Stuck indoors? Try charades, Simon Says or some activity games on the Wii.
10—Don’t pay the cable bill. Or, just turn off the television. Odds are, you’ll find yourself being more active naturally, and think of all those “in front of the TV” calories you won’t consume. At the very least, watch & walk. Stand up in front of the programs you love and walk in place while you watch. You may still gain a few pounds, but not nearly as much as you would if you just put your health programs on the back burner until January 2.