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Battling the holiday bulge

Set a strategy and you can enjoy the occasional splurge

Posted: November 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Results Fitness client Marty Strawser jogs to warm up for her workout. Regular exercise is crucial to staying fit during the holiday season.

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How many times have you heard that the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day?
Luckily that is a myth, but there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the most recent research suggests that the average person only gains a couple of pounds over the holidays. So, why worry about it?

Because the bad news is that studies also show that they never lose those pounds. In fact, most people gain 1 to 2 pounds a year on average over their lifetimes.

The research goes on to state that if you recently lost weight or are overweight you will have a harder time maintaining over the holidays and may gain 5 pounds or more.

Again, a couple of pounds may not seem like a lot. The problem is that if you gain 1 to 2 pounds over a period from Thanksgiving to New Year (six weeks), it is most likely not temporary bloat, but it is instead a layer of fat that will be much harder to lose than it was to gain. And according to the studies, you never will lose it.

I used to say, “It isn’t what you eat between Christmas and New Year; it’s what you eat between New Year’s and Christmas.”

But if you don’t have a strategy, this quote may not stand true.

Why not come up with a strategy to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat over the holidays while most people are gaining?

Take 10 minutes today to formulate a plan and set yourself up for success. Here are some tips:

1. Most importantly, do not drop your workouts this time of year.

The people who stay consistent with their exercise are much more likely to maintain or lose weight over the holidays. As busy as this season gets, you have to keep your workouts a priority.

The only reason you can get away with a few holiday splurges (see below) and still change your body is because you are consistent with your workouts and keeping your metabolism revving.

Make a commitment to get to the gym at least twice a week. I recommend getting it done early, before anything else gets in the way. To keep you motivated, Results Fitness has decided to offer Santa Clarita Valley residents a way to get one workout a week in while helping those in need. Every Saturday until Christmas, bring an item for the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter and take a class for free at Results Fitness. The program starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

2. Think ahead the next couple of weeks through the holidays.

What splurges should you absolutely plan on? Pull out a calendar and check it out. You have 42 days until Jan. 1 — six weeks starting on Sunday — to get through the holidays. In order to lose 1 to 2 pounds over this holiday period, your food needs to be 90 percent healthful, with 10 percent splurges.

Here’s how: If you are eating five meals a day (which is what you should be eating to get your metabolism revving), that is 210 meals, which means you have 21 meals over the next six weeks that you can splurge on and still be eating healthful, nutritious foods 90 percent of the time.

To be successful at this, think ahead and strategize. Go through the calendar and put an X on each meal you plan to splurge on, using up to 21 splurges over the next six weeks.

The rest of the time, eat foods that fuel your body  and give you energy and vitality — lean protein, fruits and veggies.
Bottom line: You can enjoy every food you love, every experience you want to have and everything about the holidays, yet not completely blow it.

3. Be aware of black-and-white thinking.

On or off, good or bad, or maybe this sounds familiar: “I may as well not even try, and just start in January.” Do  not do this. You will be sorry when you have an extra 1 to 5 pounds to drop in the new year.

Start now by visualizing yourself at your office or at a party and mentally rehearse that you will not eat the tempting treats (unless it’s a splurge meal). Then visualize yourself wearing the sexy holiday outfits you want to wear.

If you start to go into black-and-white, on-and-off thinking, catch yourself and get back into action.

Using the above strategies will help you come out of the holidays in a fit, healthy way and feeling fabulous at your New Year’s Eve party.

Starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving, bring an item in for the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter and you can take a class for free at Results Fitness. This drive for the homeless shelter will take place every Saturday until Christmas. Results Fitness is located at 24420 Walnut Street, Newhall. Info: (661) 799-7900 or www.results-fitness.com.

Rachel Cosgrove is the author of “The Female Body Breakthrough” and co-owner of Results Fitness. The views and opinions expressed are those of Cosgrove and do not necessarily represent the views of The Signal.

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