Holiday Weight Gain Sucks! (And how to avoid it)

It's that time of the year again; lights are going up, gifts are being wrapped, and the line at Starbucks is wrapped around the building. Yep, Christmas is here. Its many people's favorite holiday because of presents, family, and food. It's also the time when people put on the most weight. Who can blame us, right? With all of the delicious food and Mom insisting you have seconds, it’s no wonder the holiday season is one of the toughest times to maintain a healthy body weight. Unfortunately, holiday meals may not be the sole offender. There are many factors that contribute to weight gain during the holiday season. I'm here to reveal why food isn't the only thing to blame when your LBD won’t zip up on New Year’s Eve. Check out these hidden fat traps and tips for avoiding them.


STRESS

Most holidays include an element of stress (with the exception of Cinco de Mayo…no one is ever stressed on Cinco, am I right?). Endless Christmas shopping in crowded malls, holiday parties with diet sabotaging foods, traveling, hosting too many family members under your roof. It can all be so overwhelming. When you stress, you produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases blood sugar and suppresses your immune and digestive system. Constantly producing cortisol guarantees you will pack on the pounds, particularly around your midsection. Try these tips for stress-management.


1. Breathe…ahhhhh

An easy way to reduce stress is to take a few deep breaths. Long, slow breaths are a great way to help lower the production of cortisol. Take a few minutes out of your morning to sit in a quiet place and breath deeply. 

2. Walk it out

Walking has a soothing effect on the body. This low impact cardio improves your sleep, health and decreases anxiety. Want bonus points? Walk outside. The sunlight will help boost your mood and provide your body with the vitamin D it craves during these cold, winter months.

3. Squeeze!

There is a squishy area between your thumb and index finger that is home to a major pressure point. Pinch that area to apply pressure for 30 seconds. This will reduce upper body tension by up to 40%. So when you’re sitting across the dinner table from Aunt Marge this Christmas and she begins dishing unsolicited relationship advice to you, just pinch that stress-busting pressure point and smile.


LACK OF SLEEP

Sleep is directly linked to your level of stress. With only 24 hours during the day and so many things we have to do during the holidays, sleep generally falls low on our priority lists. Sacrificing 3+ hours of sleep may benefit your to-do list, but it certainly won’t benefit your waistline. Lack of sleep is another cause for cortisol production and, therefore, is another cause of weight gain. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep most nights of the week. Here are some tips to ensure happy dozing.


1. No electronics before bed

Make your bedroom a place for sleep only. TV’s, cell phones and laptops all produce a blue light that signals to your brain it isn’t bedtime yet. Try to put away all electronics 1-2 hours before bed. Resisting the urge to check emails at 11 PM will pay off, we promise.

2. Practice math

Some nights, our brains just don’t want to shut off. Thinking about tomorrow’s business meetings and what you’ll have for lunch is going to keep you up all night. When your brain is overly active, try subtracting 13 from 100 (Hint…it’s 87!). Good job, now subtract 13 from 87 and so on until you drift off. Focusing on simple math problems will distract you from your more pressing thoughts while allowing your brain to turn off for the night. Math has always made me yawn anyways.


STEROIDS

I know what you're thinking, “I don't and never would take steroids. I want to be toned, not bulky!” While steroids that bodybuilders take obviously cause weight gain, I am not referring to anabolic steroids. I'm talking about the steroids that are prescribed for cold and flu treatment. The flu runs rampant during this time of year and steroids are a great way to combat the flu symptoms. The bad news is that these medications can cause weight gain. The good news is that this weight gain is usually not permanent. The extra pounds that are caused by these steroids will generally fall back off in a few weeks, but who wants to put on weight at all? Here are some tips for combating this initial weight gain


1. Exercise 

Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight and improve your immune system so that you don’t get sick in the first place. Try exercising 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes to keep colds and the flu at bay.

2. H20

Drinking water will keep your body hydrated and prevent you from retaining water weight. This will help flush waste and toxins from your body to keep you feeling light! Aim for 8 glasses a day.


 

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