Eric Murray – Maintaining Your Weight Loss
November 22, 2009
You’ve worked hard at it for more than six months, and you’re within a few pounds of your ideal weight. But holidays are approaching; can you hang on to your hard-earned weight loss?
You may have heard that Americans gain an average of 5 pounds over the holiday season. Actually, that was proven wrong by a National Institutes of Health study that found an average gain of only one pound. But, for someone who has been on a successful weight-loss program, it’s not the amount of weight that matters; it’s the change of attitude. Take a three- or four-week vacation from your successful plan, and it’s doubly hard to go back to it on January 2.
The best approach, according to most weight-loss experts, is to steer clear of an either/or attitude. You don’t have to give up all of your favorite holiday treats to remain focused on your long-term health and weight goals. Instead of letting yourself go for six to eight weeks, you can exercise in moderation with a goal of weighing the same on January 2 as you did on October 31.
Weight maintenance is not easy. Studies show that 95 percent of persons who lose weight eventually gain it back unless they have a plan.
MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT: The National Weight Registry, a study of individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and successfully kept it off for three years or longer, found that one major key to success is monitoring of weight. Particularly during the holidays, it’s important to step on the scales regularly-at least once a week and preferably once a day.
BALANCE YOUR CALORIE BUDGET. Whether your approach is low-fat, low-carb or Weight Watchers, studies consistently show that the only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than you use up.
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Since you know that you’ll be going over budget on the holiday itself in order to eat all of your favorite treats, compensate by trimming your calories, a few at a time, on the days leading up to your splurge.
THINK BEFORE YOU EAT. Four ounces of turkey, half a cup of stuffing, salad, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, a dinner roll, a glass of wine and a slice of pumpkin pie – that’s a Thanksgiving meal that should satisfy any appetite.
It all adds up to about a thousand calories, and that’s a lot for one meal. But you can do that and still stay within your calorie budget for the day and the week.
EMPHASIZE QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Whether it’s cheese cake or chocolate pecan pie, Linda refuses to pass up a food she really likes. She takes a small portion and then eats it slowly, savoring every bite. As for high-calorie foods she is dispassionate about, she passes them up. At the buffet table, she takes the smallest plate, fills it with small quantities of her favorite items and then leaves the area quickly so she’s not tempted to go back for more.
GO EASY ON CHRISTMAS CHEER. A glass or two of wine can enhance your holiday meal and may even make you feel satisfied sooner. But don’t forget to count the calories – 20 to 25 calories per ounce for wine, 12 calories for beer and 75 to 80 for distilled spirits. A mixer, whether tonic water or cola, adds to the total.
DON’T GIVE UP YOUR EXERCISE. In one study of holiday weight gain published in the “New England Journal of Medicine,” the factor found to be most likely to make a difference was physical activity. Persons who increased their activity actually lost weight. If you can’t make it to the health club, at least get out for a 30- to 45-minute walk each day.
DON’T SKIMP ON SLEEP. Even a modest amount of sleep deprivation has been shown to boost appetite and insulin resistance within a short time. Busy schedules, lack of sleep and high stress levels are part of a holiday pattern, and the effect is to sap your energy and make you less likely to exercise and more likely to binge on food and drink.
If you’re worried about seeing your hard-earned weight loss start to fade away, you could easily get caught in the spiral. Don’t let it happen. Keep yourself focused on staying on an even keel and maintaining your weight over the busy holiday season.
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