Holiday weight gain might seem inevitable given that we often put a pause on our healthy habits until January. But having a strategy to avoid it could tip the scales in your favor — not just come the new year, but over the course of your life. Here’s why: On average, we pack on around 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season and while that sounds like no big deal, studies suggest we don’t take it off. Ever. That means we enter each year a couple of pounds heavier which can add up over the decades.
And if you enter the holiday season already overweight, it’s likely you’ll gain even more, say researchers who’ve investigated the matter. But as they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure so here are some expert-backed pointers for avoiding the typical holiday weight gain.
- Keep moving. When holiday activities ramp up and we’re gearing up for some out of office time, workouts are one of the first things to slip. But even if you don’t have time for an hour-long spin class or your typical yoga session, put in what you can. Exercise has a number of mental and physical benefits, and the science suggests it can counter some of the metabolic effects of overeating, even if it doesn’t wash out all those extra calories you’re consuming. Resist the all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to workouts and do what you can when you can — even if that’s just a quick routine in your living room. It may be especially helpful to enlist a friend. One study found that doing so led to increased activity, particularly if the workout partner provided encouragement and support. So grab a pal and go for a quick walk or make a weekly date to attend a group class. If you can’t meet up in person, have a virtual check in to encourage each other to keep moving.