Holiday Weight Gain: The Slow Creep

It’s that time of year again (again, ALREADY???), yes, the holidays; the best time of the year for celebrations and parties, and the worst time of the year for ones waistline. In fact, it has been shown that up to 75% of yearly weight gain comes between November and January!!! Just to be clear, that means that in only 3 months people gain more weight than the other 9 months combined…that is pure craziness.

While that sounds terrifying, when you dig deeper into the numbers it’s really not all that bad. It is often reported by the media that people gain between 7-10lbs over the holidays, and when asked, people self-report that they believe that they gained 5-7lbs. Those that are overweight/obese or that once were overweight/obese tend to be the most at risk, gaining 5lb or more during the holidays (that goes for children and adults). The reality is most people only gain between 1-2lbs over the holidays. In fact, the typical person only gains 1-2lb per year. Not a lot, but when added up year after year it leads to what is called “creeping obesity”.  It is not all doom and gloom though, read on to see why.

Causes of Holiday Weight Gain:

  • Social Pressure/FOMO (fear of missing out): The desire to attend every party invited to. It’s ok to say no. J
  • Psychological Cues: People tend to naturally eat at a “group average” meaning if people are eating more than you usually do,  you will trend up to eat as much as them
  • Stress: Thanks family, haha. Stress releases Cortisol which triggers belly fat storage
  • Calorically dense foods/alcohol: Most will eat more sweets and drink more sugary alcoholic beverages during the holidays than the rest of the year combined
  • Out of Routine: with travel, family obligations, and whatever else may come up, it can be easy to fall out of dietary and exercise routines. BE DILIGENT!!

Remedies to Holiday Weight Gain:

  • Have a plan: Sometimes that may mean skipping a party or determine you will only have one type of dessert or “x” amount of drinks. When you do this, STICK TO YOUR GUNS
  • Eat before the party and drink lots of water during the party. Be too full to overeat
  • Alcohol: Skip the sugary, fattening drinks like Egg Nog, and instead drink vodka with soda water and citrus (I am realistic, I know you’re going to drink J)
  • Start with Veggies: Before eating anything else, have a plate of vegetables with hummus or easy on the dressing. Don’t think there will be that option…BRING THEM YOURSELF!
  • Don’t Stress: If you do cheat, it’s ok, just make it a one-time event, do not let it derail you
  • Slow Down: Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Chew each bite at least 10 times and savor the dish. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you are full, enjoy the moment.
  • Track your food: A pain, I know, but a proven method to stay on track
  • EXERCISE!!!!!!: Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, anything is better than nothing
  • Wear form fitting clothes: The more you do, the more aware you are of how they fit and can adjust your intake accordingly…getting tighter, eat less, exercise more

Think that the holidays will ruin your waistline? Here is the good news! If, for example, you gained 2 pounds over the holidays, all is not lost.

v  2 pounds of fat equals 7000 calories

v  Subtracting 500 calories per day will equal a 3500 calorie deficit in a week (500×7)

v  Just 2 weeks of eating 500 fewer calories per day equals a 7000 calorie deficit (500×14)

v  The 500 calories can be a combination of an increase in caloric expenditure (exercise) and decrease in intake (eating)

What does all this mean??? The holidays CAN be a diet booby trap, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you were to gain a few pounds, within just a few weeks, with diligence you can lose them. Don’t be a victim of holiday creeping obesity….have fun, be safe, enjoy yourself, and keep these tips in mind.

***A holiday message from J Nichols Fitness…Don’t be a dumbass, don’t drink and drive, call an Uber or a Lyft. Nothing ruins a good time like a DUI or worse. Merry Christmas.


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