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Enjoy the Holidays Without the Guilt

By Dino Nowak
Certified Fitness Trainer The holidays are upon us again, as are all the magazine covers touting the latest advice and trends on how to get through this time without gaining weight, and maybe even losing some.

Most people do gain weight during the holidays of Thanksgiving to New Year’s. The weight gained is not as much as people typically think—a little more than a pound is gained for the average person. The bad news is that this pound usually isn’t lost throughout the course of the year, so the pounds only stack up as the years go on.

Your goal this year is to get through unscathed and still be able to enjoy yourself and your family. The following five tips will set you on the right path to getting through the holiday season while still allowing you to partake in the festivities.

  1. It’s easy when you’re the host to want to put out lots of snacks for your guests to munch on. However, you inadvertently can be contributing to your weight gain and their weight gain. It becomes so habitual and is done so subconsciously that you’ll just grab a handful of each bowl as you’re talking and moving around the room. If you’re the host, try setting out fresh cut fruits and vegetables in greater numbers than your junk food, if not exclusively. You’ll save a few hundred calories and your blood sugar levels won’t be on a roller coaster ride for the day. If you’re the guest, hang around by the healthier bowls; you won’t be as tempted as you would be if the junk food were right below your nose.

  2. Participate in other activities besides sitting around just eating. Go out for a walk with a family member you haven’t seen in a long time and catch up, or go out and play with the younger children. Remember what this time is really for: to fellowship and to draw near to your family and friends; it’s not an annual all-you-can-eat buffet.

  3. So many hours are spent preparing that special meal that it becomes an all-day affair, only to have everyone sit at the table and inhale the meal within 10-15 minutes. This is an excellent opportunity to bond. Also, you’ll eat more slowly, giving your body more time to send the signals that you are full. Thus, you will be consuming less food. Take your time; enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Much hard work has gone into the meal, so take your time and soak it all up.

  4. A mistake that most people make is that they bring all the food out on the dining room table and serve the food from there. Always leave the food in the kitchen. When it’s sitting on the table in front of you, it’s very easy to pick and continue to eat just because the food is in front of you. If it were out of your sight and reach, you wouldn’t think twice about it.

  5. Be mindful of the drinks you have. Some partake in the festivities with wine, champagne, or other alcoholic beverages in moderation. These are empty calories, and you’re actually better off eating food instead. Get this: For each gram of carbohydrate or protein you eat, it is 4 calories. Now, alcohol is 7, which is almost double! It’s easier to drink calories than it is to eat them, and you can do it much faster. The only thing to surpass alcohol is straight fat, and that only has two more calories per gram at 9. Don’t drink on the pounds. Stick to water with fresh lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber slices, whatever you like best. If you absolutely don’t like water, try tea or even diet soda.

With these tips you will be able to enjoy your holiday without having to buy a new wardrobe, and you won’t be panicking come New Year’s resolution time. Take it one day at a time and keep in mind the true meaning of the holidays.

Other Ideas

  • Pick one - Food or drink. If you’re going to indulge in the food, then cut back on the drinking. Stick to water or teas and you’ll minimize the damage to your waistline. If you plan on drinking more, then don’t go crazy with the appetizers and second helpings.

  • Have physical contests with great prizes - See who can hold a wall squat for the longest time or who can hold a plank position. The winner gets a cool prize or cash. Whoever is the last to eat the junk food lying around gets another prize.

  • Make up fun games - If you’ve got snow, play dodge ball with snowballs. Play Twister or Charades, anything that has you moving.

Send Dino your exercise and fitness questions

Dino NowakDino Nowak holds some of the highest levels of certifications with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. He has advised and trained celebrities in the television, film, and music industries, in addition to those of all ages who have struggled with health and fitness challenges. He is the former general manager of Equinox Fitness in Los Angeles and the author of The Final Makeover: Your 40 Day Guide to Personal Fitness. He has been interviewed by major media outlets. His official Web site is

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