You know the upcoming holiday season is full of treats and good eats, and that often means extra pounds to drop come New Year’s. But did you know that you’re likely to be at your lowest weight of the year right now?
That’s right, a new study shows that the period before Thanksgiving and Christmas is the low point in an annual weight gain pattern that peaks right after the holidays.
The average person puts on 3.5 – 6 pounds and takes nearly half a year to shed this weight. And we can’t just blame it on going into hibernation mode over the winter – the same is true for other cultures during special holiday periods no matter the time of year.
But let’s face it – dieting and losing weight during the holidays is unrealistic. How about making it a goal to maintain your weight instead? This way, you can avoid struggling to slim down by summer only to repeat the cycle again during fall.
So what’s the best way to maintain your weight? Turns out the habits that lead to weight loss are different than those for weight loss maintenance.
Weight Loss vs. Weight Loss Maintenance: Infographic
While participating in a weight loss program is one of the best strategies for dieters who lose weight successfully, using cognitive practices to remind oneself of progress already made is extremely effective for weight management.
To avoid holiday weight gain, be sure to:
Making sure your diet has plenty of low-fat sources of protein makes you almost two times more likely to maintain your weight. This means eggs, white meat, pastured beef, and plant-based sources of protein like legumes, seeds, and nuts. 5 Ways Protein Helps You Lose Weight & Keep It Off
Read Nutrition Labels
You’d be surprised at how much unhealthy stuff can be hidden in seemingly “healthy” foods. Being attentive and informed can help you make better decisions and make you almost two times more likely to keep the weight off. Reading Food Labels Keeps You Thin
It’s no secret that empty carbohydrates add weight. Eating fewer carbs and ensuring that those you eat are healthy carbs like fruits, whole and ancient grains, and vegetables makes it more than one and a half times more likely you’ll stay lean. Low-Carb Diet Best for Weight Maintenance
Control Your Portions
Increase the chances of maintaining your figure by decreasing the amount you eat mindlessly. Be aware of serving sizes and portion food out accordingly. And if you know you’re going to be indulging later, plan ahead and eat lighter beforehand.
Following a consistent exercise routine can double the likelihood that you won’t pack on the pounds. Diet vs Exercise: Which is Better For Weight Loss?
Keeping track of your weight makes you almost two times more likely to stay on track. Knowing is half the battle, right?
Remind Yourself of Progress
Thinking about how much progress you’ve made has a positive effect on your mind and body and doubles the odds that you’ll maintain your weight loss.
Sticking to your diet or exercise plan deserves kudos, and treating yourself (within reason, of course!) makes it twice as likely that you’ll keep the weight off.
Think about your goal for a healthy weight, whether it’s the weight you’re at now or the weight you ultimately want to be. Setting goals makes it almost two times more likely that you won’t gain any additional weight.
Remember, enjoying the holidays doesn’t have to mean overindulging. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be self-defeating – the less you gain less you have to lose!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.