By: Paula Comeau, NETA Certified Personal Trainer
With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard not to have “visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.” Or if you are like me, visions of mom’s frosted sour cream holiday cookies. Along with those visions come the fear of the dreaded holiday weight gain, in fact most media sources will tell you that the average weight gain for adults in our country is between five to seven pounds. If that is to be believed, we are in fact eating ourselves a “food baby.”
Despite this reporting, no scientific study has ever found weight gain that high, and most find that a weight gain between half a pound to about three and a half pounds is more accurate (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336296). That is hardly cause for relief, after all, three pounds is still three pounds and weight gain can be a slippery slope. Especially given that the average adult will gain 1.1 to 2.2 lbs a year throughout adulthood leading to obesity at some point in their life (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-07/tjnj-wgf071317.php).
So what can be done?
Well, you are reading a blog for a fitness facility, so it should come as no surprise that consistent exercise and healthy eating are what this trainer preaches for successful weight management. But, beware, there are several myths out there that boutique fitness establishments and fitness influencers will push that are simply not true. Two of my personal favorites are “After burn” and “Free foods.”
Tackling myths and misinformation:
“After burn,” or the idea that exercises like HIIT or Tabata will increase calorie burn for up to 36 hours post workout, is a popular myth based in truth in today’s fitness community.
Yes, after a high intensity training session you will increase calorie burn over the next few hours, but hardly enough to burn off a large pumpkin spice latte and that’s only if done very high intensity (90% or more of maximum aerobic capacity (www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/metabolicEffectsHIIT.html). For most people the increase in basil metabolic rate (BMR), the rate at which your body use calories, will only increase by maybe 300 calories over the course of the first 24 hours and drop after that with most of the increased calorie consumption occurring in the 30 minutes immediately following the workout (www.jarcet.com/articles/Vol11Iss2/Petrofsky1.pdf ). Translation: HIIT and Tabata Training are not a free pass to holiday binge eating.
This leads me to “Free Foods.” Despite what some weight loss plans will tell you, there are no “Free” foods. Snacking on veggies before your holiday dinner still counts toward your daily calorie intake. The difference between snacking on carrots versus cookies is that you can eat a lot more carrots than cookies before you start going over your calorie requirements. One baby carrot will set you back 4 calories, while one small sour cream cookie will set you back 126.
So what can I do?
I have four suggestions:
1) Plate size matters. We will instinctively fill our plates, so grab a smaller plate when you head to the buffet line. If you don’t have a choice on plate size, try to keep an inch space between the edge of your food and the edge of your plate. Also, wait at least five minutes after finishing your first helping before you decide whether you need to go back for seconds.
2) Avoid naked carbohydrates. What I mean by “naked carbs” is eating carbohydrates without a source of protein (i.e. that caramel roll for breakfast). Always try to have a source of protein with your carbs and avoid carbohydrate only meals.
3) Be active after eating. If the weather allows, go for a walk. Play an active game with the kids or with the fur babies. Getting up and moving will help the body digest and help keep you from feeling sluggish after eating.
4) Lastly, be kind to yourself. All of us will likely overeat this holiday season at some point, but one day does not define our diet or our eating habits. If you go a little overboard, remember it is what we do over time that determines our habits and diet quality. Do not punish yourself for that extra sour cream cookie, that only creates stress and feelings of failure– which leads to overeating. Your value does not change whether you eat 2000 calories or 5000 this holiday season. Love yourself enough to make choices that will help you on your fitness and health journey.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Paula
- NETA Certified Personal Trainer
- NETA Group fitness Instructor
- Budokon Yoga Instructor Certification
- Budokon Mixed Movement Arts Certification
- Yogafit Level 1 Certification
- Yoga Strength Certification
- Yoga Anatomy and Alignment Certification