If you’re like me, you love delicious home-cooked meals over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if you set limits (i.e. no carbs or sugar, only one serving), it’s hard to resist, and temptation in the form of made-from-scratch casseroles and home-baked pies may always win. It takes about 5 months to lose any weight you put on over the holidays, according to research by Cornell University, but luckily, you can lose weight over Thanksgiving and Christmas in shorter time.
First, the good news. You likely didn’t gain as much weight as you thought.
On average, Americans’ weight increase about 1.3 pounds (during Christmas to New Years), so your guilt math may not match reality math. If you’re overeating during the holidays, you may feel full for days (a result of water retention from salty foods, fat storage and sugar intake), though the fact you hardly put a real dent on your weight should ease your mind.
But don’t make overeating a habit after holidays. Americans already feel guilty with 1/3 of the food they eat as well as overeating, which is common over winter months and can further add stress.
1. Cut back on sugar… all the sugar.
Sugar is our frenemy. We love the joy it brings to our relationship, yet it’s the worst culprit for weight gain.
Experts believe sugar is highly addictive, which makes it hard to cut ties, the reason why why we go for two cookies instead of one, *especially* over the holidays. Sugar raises our endorphins to a ridiculous degree, and a sugar rush, which leads to a sugar crash, is responsible for the “food coma” we feel during holiday meals. If that’s not enough, sugar also leads to obesity.
Since our bodies crave sugar, try to eliminate it as much as you can, even if it’s cutting portion sizes in half.
If you have the type of family that pressures you into eating everything served, do the “NYC diet,” a simple, yet effective solution. When no one is looking, pour a beverage on top of your dessert so its soggy, therefore inedible. Honestly, it sounds crazy, but it helps me through the holidays.
After the holidays, replace all your desserts with fruit (natural sugar), so you can satiate any sugar cravings with healthy sugar! It’s the best way to lose weight after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
2. Go for the protein (*not* vegetables, starch or carbs).
Science says protein prolongs the feeling of being full since it takes longer to digest than vegetables, carbs or fats. You can have a high-protein lunch and still feel full by dinner, which will theoretically make you eat less.
Protein also makes your body burn more calories to digest. Go for turkey, ham, chicken, yogurt, things with nuts and whatever peanut butter dish you possibly / weirdly make for dinner. It will work, and you’ll eat less.
3. Get back to your normal eating routine quickly.
The hardest part of winter holiday feasting is that people tend to fall into regular winter months eating. “Winter appetite” is a real thing. People go for “comfort food,” people like to eat when it’s cold, people snuggle in relationships and gain “winter weight” and we’re not as active as we are in summer, so we order in more frequently.
“Simply put, when outdoor temperatures drop, your body temperature drops, and that’s what sets up the longing for foods that will warm you quickly,” Kristin Herlocker MS, RD, a nutrition expert with Diabetes Centers of America in Houston, tells WebMD. “We get hungrier quicker, so we reach for more high-carbohydrate ‘fillers.’”
Also, let’s not forget Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in early winter, so people eat their emotions (like me).
Try to stick to your regular dining habits. I like to pretend it’s still summer and I’m heading to the beach the next day, so I’m more aware of what I’ll look like in a bathing suit.
You should also eat smaller portions several times throughout the day. Be mindful of your calories (cut back on cocktails, which will knock out a few hundred), and don’t eat anything you wouldn’t eat during your beach diet.
4. Get your heart rate up.
Burning calories will help you lose weight faster, and the best way to do this is daily exercise.
Get back to the gym if you can, or try to do exercises at home.
I use Daily Burn, an app that offers daily fitness classes as well as a library of hundreds of classes (from kickboxing to yoga) right on my TV.
When I’m in a pinch on a crazy schedule, I’ll do lunges for about 10 minutes, or try to reach my goal of 10,000 steps a day through my Health daily tracker on my Samsung. Light cardio is better than no cardio, and it’s going to get your waist trimmer faster.
5. Try cryotherapy.
I tried cryotherapy for a month, and it’s suggested it helps you lose weight.
Did I lose weight? Absolutely.
The cold temperature forces your body to work hard to stay warm, thus you’ll burn calories throughout the day, and it will boost your metabolism. Also, there’s a psychological factor I experienced. I felt great after doing it, so I didn’t want to ruin that feeling by gorging on food or going straight to a cupcake place.
Another perk is that I did cryotherapy over the winter months. It is insanely cold in that chamber, but it builds a tolerance to the cold outside
Good luck… and happy 2023!