For months, you have tracked your food and exercised regularly to improve your health and alter the shape of your body. More than a “diet” or a fitness fad, you have created real behavioral modifications, lifestyle changes and built the confidence that you can stick with it for the long haul. So why is the winter holiday season so intimidating—even scary—for so many?
The answer is complex. Sure, there’s the food. Unlike other food-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day or Halloween, the winter holiday season lasts for weeks. There are more parties, more potlucks, more food gifts, more cookies and well, just more everything! And these temptations won’t be going away any time soon. Then there’s the stress. Buying gifts, volunteering, decorating, cooking and party hopping often take the place of cooking healthy meals at home or hitting the gym. Like an infant sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, it’s no wonder we’re scared of the holidays and the infamous weight gain they encourage. How can we keep up with a healthy diet and fitness program—let alone lose weight—with all of this going on around us, day after day?
Most Americans gain at least 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Though this may not seem like much, over time the extra pounds accumulate. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday weight gain can contribute to obesity and chronic diseases later in life.
Drop those holiday pounds by adding a healthy breakfast to your morning routine. A 2002 study in “Obesity Research” found a common factor among participants who’d lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than one year: Seventy-eight percent ate breakfast every day. The study also found that breakfast eaters engaged in more physical activity than nonbreakfast eaters, another key to weight loss. Harvard Medical School recommends eating a breakfast containing at least 6 grams of fiber to lose weight and prevent chronic diseases.
When you burn more calories than you consume by adding physical activities and exercise into your daily routine, you’ll lose those extra holiday pounds. While even 30 minutes of exercise per day offers health benefits, weight loss generally requires about 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise or 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Bulk up your diet with healthy, fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Not only do these foods make you feel fuller — a sensation you probably got accustomed to during the holiday season — most offer vitamins, minerals and nutrients without a heavy caloric impact. For weight loss, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, upping your whole grain intake to at least half of your total grain intake and increasing your consumption of beans, peas and lentils.
Set Realistic Goals
Of course you want to drop pounds quickly, but setting unrealistic goals can actually thwart your progress. A 2009 study in the “American Journal of Medicine” found that setting personalized, realistic goals led to less frustration and greater long-term weight loss. Aim for a loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.
If you want to lose those holiday pounds and keep them off permanently, think of weight loss as a long-term lifestyle choice. According to the Mayo Clinic, achieving weight loss — and better overall fitness — involves mental, emotional and physical commitment along with the realization that the process doesn’t happen overnight. Keep yourself motivated by tracking your progress in a weight-loss journal and by engaging a supportive group of friends and family in your efforts.
Article Source: Healthy living AZ Central