More than 65 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. If you're in the majority, you may already be anticipating the challenges of managing your weight during the holiday season. Factors such as stress, hunger, activity level and the number of holiday parties attended contribute to holiday weight gain. Recent research, however, suggests activity level and hunger have the greatest influence over weight gain. Contrary to popular belief, Americans probably only gain about a pound during the winter holiday season, but this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait until New Year’s to make a change.
Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and fit over the holiday season.
Stay Active. “Get out and play an hour a day”. Just because you live in upstate New York doesn’t mean you have to hibernate all winter. You can keep off the winter layer by enjoying a variety of outdoor activities with your family and friends. Visit www.albany.com/parks for places to have fun and get fit in upstate New York.
For example: A 150 pound person can burn 500 calories by:
a. Snowshoeing for 60 minutes
b. Ice skating for 60 minutes
c. Cross country skiing 60 minutes
d. Sleigh riding for 60 minutes
Try Interval Training. Too busy to work out? Think again! Recent research has shown intermittent bouts of high-intensity activity, followed by a brief recovery period has long-term fat burning effects. Try cycling or running intensely for 20 seconds, then recover for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 – 16 times and you will be amazed how 4-8 minutes can help keep you from stacking on the holiday pounds.
Avoid Overeating. Here are few tips to prevent you from overindulging at holiday gatherings. Before going to a holiday party or family gathering, try eating a handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts) 20 minutes before a large meal. The healthy fats (Omega -6) found in nuts, signal the satiety hormones (Leptin) in your brain and prevent you from reaching for another slice of grandma’s pie. If you’re feeling hungry, try drinking a glass of water. Your brain may be telling you you’re actually thirsty. Also, fill your plate with high-fiber fruits and veggies. High-fiber foods will slow down digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer. For a list of whole-grain foods, visit www.wholegrainscouncil.org
Skip the Sweets at Work. Holiday season usually means someone in the office is bringing in cookies or candies. This year, skip the bowl of sweets and go for some healthier options. Avoid the temptation by keeping emergency foods at your desk. Try drinking a cup of V8 Juice or eating fruit and veggies to fight the urge. Also, foods like guacamole and nuts contain unsaturated fats (healthy fats) that will help satisfy your cravings.
If you have any other suggestions on how to “Stay Healthy and Fit Through the Holidays”, please feel free to share your thoughts on www.gotosynergyfitness.com/bryans-blog.html
Bryan has authored health and fitness columns for the BID Digest. He was previously a co-host of "Weigh-in on Wellness", a live talk radio program focused on optimal health. Follow his blog for the latest, most accurate health and fitness information.