Posted on 12/06/2016 at 01:17 PM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in many respects, but holiday weight gain is one tradition many of us could live without. Researchers have found that people gain about a pound from November to January. Although it may sound insignificant, that extra pound lingers.
"In the same study," TIME reports, "researchers found that people don’t tend to shed that winter weight by the next year. After a few sugary Christmas seasons (plus the year’s other indulgent holidays, birthdays and anniversaries), those pounds add up." Tim Suchan, Athlete Development Coordinator at the YMCA Healthy Living Center, shares some of his favorite tips for staying healthy during the holidays.
Office parties, family gatherings, holiday shopping — with such a hectic season, make sure you schedule your workouts and commit to being there like you would for a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. If your calendar isn’t cooperating, sneak in workouts like post-dinner walks with the family, living room dance parties, snowball fights and backyard touch football.
Not finding success with vague goals like Be healthier? Try getting specific: I’ll run a 9-minute mile by Jan. 10. I’ll hold a plank pose for 60 seconds by Feb. 1. I’ll pack a fresh lunch three times a week — and then consistently measure your progress. Take advantage of the expertise of our Y wellness coaches, personal trainers, and group exercise instructors to hone in on the steps necessary to reach your finish line.
If you feel better (and get results) working out in the afternoon or evening, keep at it! But if your routine isn’t working, try adjusting your morning habits. "Morning exercisers tend to stick with their exercise habit," Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise, says. "By doing the bulk of exercise first thing in the morning, you get your exercise in before other distractions can intrude. We can all relate to that -- because once the day gets going, it's hard to get off the treadmill called life." Bonus: exercising in the morning may also reduce cravings throughout the day.
If someone’s waiting for you at the gym, you’ll feel more compelled to get off the couch and go out in the cold. Partner up with others who are looking to stay active so you can keep each other motivated and share triumphs (and struggles).
When you have a holiday event in the evening, avoid overindulging on delicious but empty calories by having smaller, nutrient-packed snacks and meals throughout the day. Holidays or not, keep healthy snacks on hand at home and the office (pre-cut and portioned); if a bag of chips is more convenient, you’ll probably go for that instead. And — always good advice — keep a water bottle with you wherever you go.
Register today for a race, competition, or group hiking/biking outing so you have extra motivation to get and stay well over the holidays. There are many family-friendly events coming up in central Iowa — consider the Ice Breaker Triathlon (Jan. 29) or YMCA Red Flannel Run (Feb. 11)!
How do you juggle the holidays with healthy living? Share your tips in the comments!