How to Keep the Holiday Weight Gain Off

HalloweenThanksgiving.  Christmas.  Oh my.  The perfect trifecta of weight gain opportunities.

Most media stories and research I’ve read start tracking holiday weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Years, but I personally start gaining weight around Halloween.

Why?  Because I will eat my kids’ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat bars when they are sleeping.  (Yeah, I’m that mom.)

Also, I usually buy too much chocolate “for the trick or treaters” but I think we all know that’s a load of crap; I buy extra because I am a chocolate whore.

Thanksgiving is not too much of a problem for me, other than the excessive carb loading.  Mashed potatoes, corn bread, stuffing.  I love gravy too, which is kinda gross when you consider that it’s just animal fat and flour.  I’m not much of a pie eater, so after I sleep off the turkey coma I can get back to the gym.

Christmas is a real doosie.  When I worked in commercial real estate there were about a billion networking cocktail parties to attend.  Salty, high-fat finger foods, alcohol, and mini desserts that seemed so small they couldn’t possibly hold that many calories would pack on some serious poundage.

According to a study quoted in the NY Times, the average weight adult gains just one pound over the holidays, but an overweight adult will gain five pounds because life is unfair.

A different article from the NY Times talked about a study done in 2010 that I found particularly interesting.  The study took three groups of men, gave them a super high calorie diet and studied them for six weeks.  Group A was the control group; they didn’t exercise at all.  Group B did intense workouts after breakfast.  Group C did intense workouts before breakfast.  Group A gained about 6 lbs., Group B only gained 3 lbs. and Group C (the people exercising on an empty stomach) did not gain any weight.  (Here is a link to that study.)

Last week when I was in NJ I tried this science project out first-hand.  My family is obese and I totally caved to their food lifestyle while I was home.  Fried chicken, pizza, pasta, chocolate-dipped ice cream cones, soda, cake, chocolate chip muffins, roast beef hoagies with extra mayo, alcohol; it was disgusting.  Yet I ate every bite.  I also ran for an hour every day before eating breakfast.  And the results?

Well – mixed.  I gained about a pound when by all rights I should have gained at least five, so I’d have to say that the exercise on an empty stomach trick worked for me overall.  But mostly I felt awful.  My stomach was churning so much that by the last day the only thing I could eat was old fashioned oatmeal that I begged Henri to buy me.

So, this holiday season I’m creating a game plan:

Halloween:  1) Buy candy I don’t like, thus ensuring I will give it all away.  2) Remind myself that I will be standing in a bikini on stage three days after Halloween.  (Fear is a great motivator for sticking to one’s diet.)

Thanksgiving:  1) Do my own cooking for the family to help control ingredients.  Sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, butter spray instead of butter, Stevia instead of sugar for baking.

Christmas:  Oh God, I love Christmas food.  F*** it – I’ll just run before breakfast.

Do you have a holiday game plan?  If so, please share!

Lisa (c) 2012 Lisa Traugott.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

10 responses to “How to Keep the Holiday Weight Gain Off

  1. I really believe intense exercising is key! I haven’t been perfect, but mostly clean for the past 6 months but remained exercise strict. haven’t gained a pound…even though some days I feel like I have. 😉 The “problem” with Christmas, is it lasts from the friday after thanksgiving until new years! Its a month of eating, cookies, drinks and parties! Easy to gain 5 lbs….exercise, exercise, exercise! Good post Lisa

  2. For the holidays, I actually make food exactly as the recipes suggest (butter, oil, sugar, whatever). When something is full of flavor, I’m less likely to feel the need to overflow my plate. When it comes time to eat, I still do the same thing on Thanksgiving and Christmas that I do for the rest of the year: fill half the plate with veggies, 1/4 with protein, 1/4 with carbs. No seconds on the dinner rolls! Halloween is tricky (get it?) but we don’t get many trick-or-treaters and our daughter is 3 so we don’t have to worry about stocking up for now!

    • Good tips! I’m nervous about cooking with the “real” stuff though. My husband won’t really eat left overs and I’m afraid I’ll eat it all over the course of a week. I will try the plate portion trick; I hope I will demonstrate self control this year!

  3. When our three sons were little they used to hide any Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups they got while Trick-or-Treating — they were afraid I would steal them. Honestly, I was just doing a “quality control” check on the candy!

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