Richards: Weight management strategies over the holidays (column)
Make It Count
The holiday season presents challenges for those who attempt weight loss or try to maintain their figure during the many traditions, parties and other festivities that involve heavy food and drink. Contrary to popular belief, too much food regardless of the source will lead to weight gain. Individual differences persist, but at some point along the caloric surplus continuum, the scale will move in the wrong direction if you eat too much.
The following practical tips can help you beat the bulge.
Sugars and other carbohydrates can be problematic because they cause a spike in blood sugar, which leads to a negative increase in the fat storage hormone, insulin. Carbohydrates and their effect on fat storage are a contributing factor regarding obesity. In general, minimize carbohydrates except for non-starchy vegetables and some fruits.
I’m not suggesting that carbohydrates are notoriously dangerous, or that sugars are the sole enemy regarding fat storage. Too much of any of the major food groups will increase insulin that can result in weight gain.
LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS
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We all have a baseline of caloric needs that when exceeded, weight gain occurs. Therefore, weight management is just like a bank account; when you spend too much, live above your means, overdraft your account and have problems including fees and high interest debt, it’s messy and can take a long time to recover from.
Eat more than you expend and you ultimately have to diet and exercise out of the mess you created, which can be tedious and painful. Staying under your caloric limit builds a healthy body. Living below your means decreases financial stress and secures your future.
BALANCE IT OUT
Understanding that the holiday season offers too many opportunities to overindulge, look at the entire six-week process like a monthly allowance. If you know you’re going to overeat at a holiday party, then under-eat the day before or the day after. It really doesn’t matter whether you fast and eat nothing all day; skip meals; eat smaller portions throughout the day; or follow any other specific diet plan; always aim to average your total intake to be less than you expand over the entire season.
When it’s all said and done, you won’t be rushing to the gym after the new year to undo the mess you’re in.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Because of the foods that are available during the holidays, high sodium and sugar-laden goodies can cause water retention and bloating. Fighting water retention is counterintuitive; drinking ample amounts of water minimizes retention. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces daily.
EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS
As far as exercise is concerned, I’ve never been a fan of outworking a bad diet. Exercise is a terrible weight loss tool, but an excellent weight maintenance strategy.
Already at your ideal weight before the holidays? Try to exercise as much as possible to negate the effects of indulgence.
Need to lose a few pounds? Great, start eating less now while you’re still ahead of many of the festivities to come. Happy holidays and merry Christmas to you all!
Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can contact him at ryanrichards.com and 970-401-0720.