Weight control during the holiday season

As the leaves begin to fall in Atlanta, many of us are once again faced with keeping the numbers on...

As the leaves begin to fall in Atlanta, many of us are once again faced with keeping the numbers on the scale from climbing as the winter months approach. Weight control is especially challenging from Halloween to New Year's Eve.

The holidays are a fun time to socialize and celebrate, but for some those celebrations come with a heavy price. It is not uncommon to pack on 5, 10 or even 15 pounds during the winter months, and then struggle the next year to drop that extra weight. So as you break out the cozy sweaters and curl up with your favorite latte, remember these tips to keep your weight in balance while you enjoy the upcoming festivities.

Get moving

The basic science behind weight gain is taking in more calories than you are burning. You store some of that remaining energy as fat. If you know you don't have bionic willpower and are going to reach into that cookie jar, you need to turn up your level of exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, bump it up to 45 minutes or an hour. And if you just don't have that extra time available, the solution is to make your normal workout periods more intensive.

Exercise doesn't have to be boring. Check out these local fitness choices in the Atlanta area. If you give something new a try you may discover Pilates is something you really enjoy, or that a kickboxing class at your local gym gets your heart and your adrenaline pumping. You can also get a lot of free programs to do at home from the web without having to buy any expensive equipment. Whatever you decide, just remember to make it a habit and stick to it. If you start to miss a few days it can quickly turn into weeks.

Note: If you have not exercised in the last 6 months or more please check with your doctor before beginning a fitness program.

You really can eat just one

Of course you can eat just one! Buffets and sugary gifts are everywhere you look during the holidays, but always remember that the reason for the season is not the food. First and foremost, try to redirect your focus out of the kitchen and onto spending time with friends and family. Never go to a party starving or you may fall victim to gorging. When you do fix a plate, pick the smallest size plate and fill it with mostly veggies, fruits, and lean meats. Then pick out a treat you just have to have and add that in. It's not about deprivation it's just about limits. You can also make a healthy version of your seasonal favorites and bring them to the party. Then you're helping yourself, and others, to keep their weight in control.

Limit alcohol consumption

Holiday cocktails can be so very tempting, but think twice before pouring that glass. Eggnog, for example, can tack on 450 calories in a single glass - that's as much as a full meal! Alcohol can also dehydrate your body causing it to hold on to water (can you say bloated?). So what should you do? Make smarter choices, know your limits, and drink plenty of water. Drink water before an alcoholic beverage and then another glass after. Alcohol may help you loosen up at the company Christmas party but remember the price you pay for pounding them back. As a rule of thumb limit your drinks to 100 calories a glass (light beer, liquor and club soda on the rocks with lime or a wine spritzer). Red dry wines are your best choice if available, and if sweeter wines like Riesling are your preference, try mixing half soda water and half wine.

Keep a food diary and weigh yourself

Weighing yourself every other day can warn you of creeping weight gain and allow you to react quickly by getting in an extra workout or passing on the gravy boat. Keeping a food diary is another great way to keep you from getting out of control (hint: there's an app for that). Having a good picture of what you've eaten in a day can help you decide which treats to have and which to pass on.

Stress management

The holidays are not always a piece of cake. Traffic, long lines, crazy relatives, screaming kids and spending money can really take a toll on the nerves. For that reason it's no wonder so many people turn to the nearest calorie-rich food in sight. Form a game plan now on alternatives you can do to relieve stress without reaching for comfort in pie. Take a warm bubble bath, curl up with a favorite book or allow yourself a little time to unwind with your favorite guilty pleasure on TV. Or even betterturn your frustrated energy into positivity by exercising. It's the perfect way to blow off steam and aggression, and boosts your natural feel-good hormone levels.

With the right game plan and willpower you can successfully navigate the dessert table and be proud of yourself and your weight control in the spring.

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