Don't give into holiday weight gain

Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.

The arrival of the fall and winter holiday season can bring lots of fun, food and feasting.

In fact, I think we all can agree feasting and holidays go hand in hand, which is why I will go on to say, "holiday feasting" includes the parties and office gatherings where we celebrate moments with family, friends, colleagues and lots of food.

Once all the celebrating is done and gone - along with grandma's pecan pie - many are left with regret and weight gain. Research continues to show most adults gain some weight over the holidays, but don't despair because this year can be different.

With a few suggested tips and modifications, you can survive the battle of the bulge this season and all the future ones to come.


As an endurance coach and a fitness educator, I have the qualifications needed to help you and others create the kind of results that count. I won't lead you to believe, however, that you will like all the advice I have to give, but the McDonald's culture of instant gratification without any effort just isn't going to work.

For instance, activity should follow what is known as the FITT principles - Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.

There are a multitude of exercises available to us, so when we refer to activity type, your options are wide open. I always suggest choosing things you like and enjoy, this way you look forward to your workout, but keep in mind how many times a week, how long, and how hard you are working.

The American College of Sports Medicine outlines these exercise recommendations on their website,

If you're healthy and under the age of 65:

Moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week or;

Vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week, along with;

Eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

The website also has guidelines for those over 65 and/or those suffering from chronic conditions.

You also never want to start an exercise program without first consulting your physician, who can help you determine a start to your fitness level, and from there a qualified trainer or coach can help you build from the foundation in which you started.

Perfect your follow through

A plan must be put into place and then into action.

Time and time again I see clients who have the best of intentions, but because they fail to stick to their plan, they fail to achieve the results they were looking for.

Holiday feasting often contributes to overeating, which leads to weight gain, which then creates health problems. When devising your fitness plan, don't forget how the amount of food you eat will affect you. Establish ground rules about how much you will allow yourself to eat.

Once you set those boundaries, contemplate how you will follow through with those this holiday season.

Finding your food zen

So now that we have established a training plan, let's talk about the food. This is the most important part here, because as I repeatedly remind my clients, 80 percent of our changes occur because of the food we eat.

That means that if a plan was to ever come together, it must start with the food, and if that wasn't hard enough, the holidays are when food is in the most abundance.

I'm not saying that the only way to avoid weight gain throughout the holidays is to lock yourself in a closet until after the New Year's fireworks. All you need to remember is that you are in charge of your plan and follow these simple instructions.

1. Create a list of choices you intend make to create the results you want. For instance, smaller plates are a wise choice when choosing the appetizers.

2. And what about those desserts? You don't always have to trade delectable treats for fresh fruit and Jell-O. Desserts like Black Forest cake, oatmeal cookies, peach pie and real fudge brownies are guilt-free goodies. Commit to taking one of these items to your next social so you don't feel forced to eat the higher-calorie foods.

3. Even though you are treating yourself with dessert, keep it in your plan to limit it to one small cookie or a thin slice of cake.

4. Incorporate healthy alternatives into your traditional dinner. My husband and I have been enjoying making healthier holiday meals together for years, using olive oil instead of butter, along with cooking a rice bread sausage for the dressing, candied yams made with orange juice, dark grade maple syrup and a roasted chicken served with vegetables. Chicken can also be substituted with duck or turkey.

5. Last but not least, alcohol is in abundance during the holidays. Limit yourself to a light beer, or replace it all together with an unsweetened iced tea, hot tea or coffee.

Let's face it, we don't get younger, but we can become stronger mentally and physically. It's important to remember, we get one body and one chance to take care of that body. It's a choice we are all given and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can start living a life without the added weight gains.

Brandee Bratton is the owner and head coach at Healthy Image, providing endurance training to area athletes. To contact her for questions or more information, call (361) 485-0771 or visit the website,



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