How to avoid holiday weight gain

Avoiding Scale ShockThe average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is not the seven to ten pounds that many people believe it is, but actually closer to one pound. The problem though, is that most people don’t usually lose this one pound once they’ve gained it. And over the course of time, this can add up to an ever increasing weight problem. But fear not, weight fighters! With just a few strategies, you can avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and the holiday celebrations!

Here’s my first bit of advice. Enjoy yourself! Holidays are meant for fun and celebration. Second…..No guilt! I guarantee you that feeling guilty will not motivate you to eat less. It will simply keep you from enjoying what you do eat.

OK, so what CAN you do to keep the scale from creeping up?

  • Think 80/20. This simple little rule can change the way you live forever (not just the holidays). Eat healthy and exercise most of the time. Give yourself a 20 percent wiggle room. For example, stay the course all week with clean eating and workouts and lighten up on your rules on the weekend. Enjoy an office holiday party but then get right back to healthier eating the next day. The 80/20 rule is a realistic way to manage what you eat and how often you exercise. It works during the holidays and year-round.
  • 2-Day Rule.  I heard this rule recently and LOVE IT! Never eat off plan or miss out on your exercise sessions more than 2 days in a row. Observing the 2-Day Rule provides you with a flexible framework and an easy system to stay on track. You can miss two workouts, but never more than two workouts in a row. Same thing with eating. This is especially helpful if you tend to “Start over on Monday” once you’ve overindulged. Nope, resume your healthy eating with your next meal.
  • If you are going to splurge, eat only the food you love. Give yourself a holiday treat once in a while. But make sure it’s special. If Aunt Eloise has baked her world famous, secret recipe, decadent dessert and this is the only time of the year you can enjoy it….go for it (in moderation, of course). But those store bought cookies, meh! Take a hard pass.
  • Edit your choices. Deprivation can fuel desire. So instead of dwelling on all the holiday treats you shouldn’t have, edit your choices. (Drop the word diet and rearrange those letters to spell edit.) Editing what you want means making small changes to your choices. Eat one cookie instead of three. Plan a healthy, satisfying lunch so you aren’t tempted by break room treats in your office. Decide what to eat less of, more of or what to cut, but take it day by day so controlling what you eat is more manageable.

  • Don’t drink your calories. Beware of extra calories in drinks and cocktails, and choose what you drink wisely. Instead of drinking sodas, iced tea and specialty coffee beverages (which are loaded with calories) drink water, flavored seltzers and unsweetened herbal teas. Avoid alcoholic beverages or drink in moderation because they are high in empty calories, plus you need to be able to drive home safely after the party.
  • Use smaller plates. Age-old trick, right? Smaller plates translate to smaller servings—and still give pretty much the same satisfaction when you’ve cleaned off your plate. It is okay to go back for seconds, as long as you wait 20 to 30 minutes from the time you began eating. That will give your stomach time to send signals to your brain if you are satisfied.
  • Follow your regular exercise program throughout the holiday season. Continue to be as active as possible throughout the holidays to help burn off any extra calories. Take your regular trips to the gym, ride your bike, get on the treadmill, attend classes. The key is to keep moving because a body in motion stays in motion.
  • Eat what you like, but earn what you eat! I used to say this all the time when I was a group exercise instructor! You can enjoy the holidays without gaining weight if you stick to this rule-trick. Keep watching your calories and sticking to your workout routine. However, if you have partied a little harder, make sure to work extra harder. As long as you’re burning the extra calories you’re eating during the holidays, you will still be able to welcome the New Year in your ideal body.


Bring your favorite healthy(ish) dish to parties. To make sure you’ll have a healthier option you enjoy at holiday gatherings, bring your own dish to share.

Need ideas? Healthy Holiday Recipes

  • Eat protein. Quality protein includes lean meats, seafood, chicken, turkey, eggs, yogurt and low-fat cheeses. Protein will help you feel full and control your appetite.

Whatever holidays you and your family celebrate, I hope you enjoy them to the fullest extent possible!


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