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I was just reading the other day that, on average, Americans gain a pound every year from late November to early January. That might not seem like a huge deal, but that’s only over the span of about a month and a half. And most people generally don’t lose that extra weight in the following months. So by the time you’re hitting your 10 year reunion—at bare minimum—you’re sitting 10 pounds heavier. Can you see why obesity is such an epidemic in America? 

We’ve talked before, but it’s worth stating again that obesity leads to all sorts of health issues. It can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, cancer and strokes. Yikes. But it doesn’t just take a toll on your physical health. It’s also linked to depression, anxiety, distorted body image, and low self-esteem. It’s a BIG concern.

I say all that, because it’s important to know WHY we talk about it so often. Why trying to avoid gaining weight over the holidays is so important. Not because we don’t want anyone to have fun or enjoy themselves. Far from it. What we actually want is for people to be able to have the longest and fullest life possible. That’s harder when you’re battling chronic pain and disease.

Let’s take a look at a few ways to avoid putting on the pounds during the holidays.

PLAN PLAN PLAN. Throughout the holidays, sweets and high fat foods are EVERYWHERE. During the rest of the year, you’ll find at least one veggie tray at a potluck. It doesn’t seem to be that way in the holiday season. There’s not a healthier alternative to be seen! So you’ve got to get ahead of the game. If it’s potluck style, bring a healthy dish to share! Then you’re covered knowing you’ve got at least one thing you can eat! If it’s not, make sure you don’t arrive hungry. That’ll only lead to poor choices and wanting to nap after dinner.

On that same note, if you know you’re going to be attending an event where you can’t bring your own food, plan it into your day. Maybe a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad with lots of lean protein for lunch. Then, when you get to dinner, you know you’ve got a little wiggle room.

AN OPEN BAR IS PROBABLY NOT A GREAT IDEA. In case you haven’t heard, calories in drinks actually do count (I know, mind blown!) And those calories usually contain lots of sugar and additives with precisely zero nutritional value. So it can easily add up to hundreds and hundreds of extra calories without having eaten a single thing! Moderation is always key when it comes to keeping your food in check and it’s even more important when it comes to alcohol (for a whole host of reasons.) So if the drinks are going to be aplenty, it’s best to make the decision beforehand (there’s that plan again!). You can keep the club soda and lime flowing all night.  

MORE OF THE GOOD STUFF Unless you decide to completely abstain from all holiday treats, consuming some level of higher than normal calories is slightly inevitable. BUT you can help your body fight through it with a great defense. More exercise and more vegetables in your diet should be added in ASAP. I mean, all throughout the year it’s a pretty great rule as well. But especially during the holidays, it’s like a special power boost. If you normally shoot for 2-3 workouts during a week, sneak in another 30 minutes on the weekends and another weekday workout. If you regularly hit 5 servings of veggies (hey, I can dream, right?) then up it to 7. The more defense built up you can have, the better.

Make a plan, limit your alcohol, and bring on the veggies and exercise. Simple, yes. Easy, no. But absolutely doable. If you can keep the end-goal in mind, it makes those cookies (that probably aren’t that great anyway!) seem like less of a temptation. 

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