Shed That Holiday Weight Gain
by Darcy Sullivan
It all started with Halloween candy. Then there was the Thanksgiving dinner: candied yams, cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. December was filled with parties and get-togethers: signature cocktails, rich dips, decadent desserts. Face it… you’ve stuffed yourself silly for two months but, by following our experts’ advice, you’ll be back in your skinny jeans in no time.
The extent of your movement during the holidays may have been limited to raising your fork, but it’s important to get moving now. Exercise not only burns calories but also puts you in a positive mind-set, which can help you make smarter food choices, says Joy Bauer, the Today show’s nutritionist and author of Your Inner Skinny: Four Steps to Thin Forever.
After binge eating, you may feel like skipping meals entirely. But that will only make you hungrier, says Louis J. Aronne, M.D., author of The Skinny: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry, which will make it harder to stick with a healthy eating program. After a calorie blowout, make sure to start your day with protein. Include eggs, cottage cheese or yogurt in your breakfast to satisfy your appetite through the day.
Put your goals on paper.
Give yourself a specific goal, and write it down, says fitness expert Frank Sepe. “Once you write it down, it becomes real and verifiable.” Just saying you want to lose five or 10 pounds isn’t specific enough; saying you want to lose five pounds by February 1 is. And as long as you’re in the writing mode, make sure you write down all your workouts and what you eat. You’ll be surprised by how much a commitment to logging your meals reduces mindless eating.
Toss the holiday leftovers.
After the holidays, get rid of all the holiday food. “If you’re going to lose weight, you have to get rid of the temptation,” says Sepe. Replace the cookies and fruitcake with fruit and healthy snacks.
Eat your vegetables.
Vegetables are natural appetite suppressants, says Aronne. Bread, on the other hand, is an appetite stimulant, which is why you’ll usually find it on the table in restaurants.
Avoid the white stuff.
Cut out white bread, crackers and bagels from your diet. “When your body isn’t used to the extra salt and sugar, it holds on to a lot of water,” says Bauer. “Once you get rid of that water weight, your energy levels come back up.” Even better news: You’ll start to feel a difference in less than 48 hours!
Make a plan.
Deviating from your get-healthy goals is harder when you plan out your workouts and meals. “If you know you’re going to be on the go, bring your own food,” says Sepe. Carry some fruit or an energy bar when you’re running errands, so you don’t hit the drive-through. If you know you get hungry later in the evening, plan for a snack; then brush your teeth and designate your kitchen as off limits.
Cut yourself some slack.
We all know that a big part of the holidays is catching up with family and friends and eating comfort food like Mom’s stuffing. And that’s okay, says Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. “Enjoying the holidays and being too busy to work out comes with the territory, and it’s nothing to shame yourself about.” Accept that and move forward.
Drink it up.
Water, that is. Valerie Orsoni, founder of the weight-loss program lebootcamp.com, says that most of the time we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. In addition to helping you feel fuller, water also helps flush out the “bad” stuff you’ve been eating as you transition back to a healthier lifestyle.
Changing your diet also changes your body’s weight-regulating mechanisms, says Aronne. This makes you hungrier, and it makes it more difficult to stick to your healthy diet.