December 09, 2016
Two things we know: 1) The holidays are an eventful (sometimes stressful) time of year, and 2) The rates of obesity among Americans is growing every year, to have reached a new high of over on third of Americans (36.5 percent to be exact). Is there a connection between those two things that we know?
Why we gain weight over the holidays
For many the process of gaining weight is not done overnight, it is a yearly series of two to five pound increases that often occur at that eventful, stressful, food filled time of year -- the holidays. Despite our best intentions, for many people the 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and News Years is when this small increase in weight occurs. This means that weight gain over time isn't always a matter of our daily choices, but rather the result of five years of gaining two to five pounds over the holidays (and not losing the weight later). That's an increase of 10-25 pounds!
Tips for preventing weight gain
So, what do we do? Plan to prevent the weight gain in the first place.
Depriving yourself of holiday treats likely hasn't worked out too well in the past, so don't! Life is truly about balance. Partake in the joys of the season, but do so mindfully. Some strategies for minimizing overconsumption can be found in this tip sheet written by CSU's Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center.
In addition mindful eating, here are a few tips that can curb weight gain through physical activity.
1. Walk instead of drive during the holidays when possible and safe, of course.
2. Invest in an activity tracker, or give as a gift to others.
Set a goal, 10,000 steps per day is recommended. Having the numbers to show your progress can help motivate you and tap into your competitive side. You wouldn't go to bed if you only need 400 more steps to get to 10,000, would you?
3. Turn shopping into your workout.
Plan to walk up and down every isle of the grocery store, and walk the whole mall instead of making a beeline straight to the stores you need.
4. Prepare for holiday parties by getting your steps in before you go.
If you overindulge and want to fight back, consider a post meal walk. Research shows that physical activity after eating is particularly effective at clearing sugars and fats from the bloodstream.
This year could be different, we might just get to have our cake and eat it too.
By Kimberly Burke and Barry Braun
Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see http://hes.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/adultfitness/
Barry Braun, Ph.D. is the Head of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University.
Contact: Barry Braun