4 Tips to Keep Off Holiday Pounds

turkey dinnerBy Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH

When I see patients in clinic this time of year some are really bummed that they didn’t meet the weight loss goals they had made last January. And they’re worried that the holidays are coming up. But I tell them to think of it this way: If you don’t gain weight over the holidays, come New Year’s you’ve really lost weight. Why? Because when Jan 1 comes, you’re not starting behind the eight ball having to lose the holiday weight gain.

We’re all so focused on losing weight, we forget how important it is to stop gaining the weight – I think that’s as big a deal as losing weight. It’s not just about getting the weight off – we have to keep from gaining the weight in the first place.

So what should you do?

You already know a lot of easy tricks. Even if you were only able to maintain the healthy changes for a few weeks, don’t focus on the fact that you fell off the wagon – focus on what worked in those few weeks and tweak the plan to last longer this time.

scaleChoose when you’re going to splurge (and do it with small bites). Again – the calories you don’t eat count as weight you now don’t have to lose. Little changes, like filling up on high fiber foods and protein like apples and a handful of nuts when you’re at a holiday event, make a difference. These foods will keep you full. And don’t eat anything high calorie unless you love it—it’s just not worth it.

Limit your alcohol – Try a “one drink per event” rule. You’ll limit your food grazing and the next morning you’ll have the energy to have a productive day and maybe get a little exercise in.

Figure out your New Year’s resolutions now. And start making mini changes to ramp-up. So, if your goal is to start walking 5 days a week – start walking once or twice a week now, with the aim of figuring out any kinks ahead of Jan 1st. And what I mean is – maybe you realize you need better shoes. Maybe you need to work on recruiting a friend or coworker to exercise with you to keep you company. If you want to exercise more in the morning – you may want to do more prep the night before. Get all those little things going now so that come New Year’s you’re ready to roll.

So, as we finish out the last couple of months of 2014, remember – if you get to New Year’s with no more weight gain this year then you’ve really lost weight. Congratulations!

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