In The Fitness Spirit

How to avoid the holiday weight gain tradition.

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We all know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what about Fat Tuesday? Nope, not the one heralding Mardi Gras. No, no. This is the Fat Tuesday that follows your holiday meal binge—you know, the one after all the turkey and pie and festive drinks, when you realize your pants are tight, the scale is ticking upward, and you've still got a few more weeks of celebrating left to do. If you're like many Americans, the post-Thanksgiving reality check often rolls through Fat Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and right on through December. But there's still time to get things under control.

If you've got a sexy party dress or new suit to squeeze into this holiday season—or an inauguration gown or tux to fit into in January—you need to find a way to push back from the table or buffet—right now—to avoid the holiday heft. It's not so hard, really! With a little planning, you can still stay active and make good food choices without feeling like Scrooge. Here are a few pointers.

 

What's Wrong With A Little Good Cheer?

The (kind of) good news. Actual holiday weight gain is often exaggerated and is only about one to two pounds. Now the (totally) bad news. People who are already overweight tend to gain more, packing on five pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year's. And worse, after the holidays, people don't take the weight off, so over time, those extra pounds really add up.

Top Tips To Keep From Tipping The Scales

If you want to truly embrace change, give up that weight loss New Year's resolution. Don't wait till Jan. 1. Adopt these basic strategies right now.

Have a plan. Don't go to a party starving or sit down for dinner without a mental list of what you're going to put on your plate. Don't pile it high with everything on the table. Be choosy. You know your absolute favorites, so allow yourself moderate portions; think palm-sized meat and a golf-ball-sized helping for dessert. And at a buffet or cocktail party, use a plate to avoid mindless grazing.

Recruit others. You definitely won't be the only one watching your waistline, so enlist a friend, relative or recruit your entire family to establish healthier holiday traditions. When planning the menu, choose lower-calorie side dishes, pump up the vegetables and limit the gut-busting carbs and sweets. Then make it a point to move by making a date for a pre- or post-meal walk.

Give/get the gift of fitness. Ask for workout gear, a gym membership or prepaid exercise classes to encourage you to keep up with your fitness routine. Give the same kinds of gifts, and you'll be repaid with a workout partner.