A study by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states that the average American gains about 1 pound over the course of the Holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. This is significantly less than the the popular belief that the average American gains 5 pounds over this period. Before we pat ourselves on the back, it’s important to note that the study also showed that this 1 pound gain accumulates throughout the years, and may be a significant contributing factor to obesity later in life. New Years resolutions be damned!
Most of you probably are familiar with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program. For those who are not, D.A.R.E. is a program founded in Los Angeles in 1983 with the goal of providing children with the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, violence, and other criminal activity. How does this relate to fitness you might be asking? Read on my friend!
Last Tuesday evening I was chatting it up on Fitblog Chats, which is a weekly Twitter chat founded by Katy Widrick from katywidrick.com for those active in the fitness and healthy living community. One of the night’s questions was “How are you putting the healthy in your holidays? Extra exercise? Permission to sleep in? Forgiving slip-ups?” For some reason, perhaps adolescent conditioning, immediately the acronym D.A.R.E popped into my head. Great, I thought. Now, how could I re-purpose this handy little acronym to allow it to be used as a quick and easy fitness goal reminder for the diet and fitness damaging times that are the Holidays? Bam! The idea jumped into my head faster than frogs in a dynamite pond.
Behold the birth of Dessert Abuse Resistance Education – Be above the influence!
So what does this mean?
It’s a simple way to remember that it’s completely “OK” to indulge in the sweet treats and delicate delights of the season, but it’s vitally important to remember ‘Don’t abuse it.’
Below are 7 fabulous guidelines to being above the influence of Holiday fitness sabotage.
1. Remember they are Holidays, not Holiweeks! – One of the best ways to prevent abuse is only allowing yourself to splurge on the actual day of the holiday. For the rest of the week just say “no thank you” to the sweets. Keep plenty of healthy alternatives around, especially at the office, including Greek yogurt, almonds, and fresh fruit.
By the way did you hear that Weight Watchers recently change their point system to “0” for all fruits and vegetables? Apparently they don’t feel that the overweight got that way by gorging on carrots and apples. I’m inclined to agree.
2.Stay away from cookie exchanges– Yes, I’m sure you’ll merely give them all away. Yeah, right! Merely having several dozen cookies around is You may feel that you’re being perceived as antisocial by not taking part in this holiday tradition, especially if everyone else is taking part, but the bottom line is that fitness is NOT achieved by following the rules and norms of the majority. Recall that according to the Center for Disease Control 75% of the U.S. population will be overweight or obese by 2015! That’s right Green Day “I want to be the minority.”
3. Avoid taking home leftovers– In the season of excess households, families, and offices are notorious providing WAY more food than is needed to spare them the embarrassment of running out in front of the whole gathering. Be mindful and very selective of the culinary options you agree to adopt into your home. If there are a bunch of fresh veggies leftover, then by all means take whatever is offered with open arms. If however someone offers you 3 bags of potato chips and a whole apple pie, polite refusal is most definitely your best option. Out of sight, out of mind rings especially true when it comes to Holiday goodies.
4. Don’t forget your fitness routines – This includes not only your workout, but also remembering to get sufficient sleep, which is essential for proper weight control and recovery from strength conditioning. Set your wake up time a mere 30 minutes earlier than needed in order to get a quick morning workout in before the days madness begins.
5. Eat slowly and savor every bite – Or as my father always said “Take little bites and chew good!” I’m fairly certain he said this more out of a fear of us kids chocking, rather than in the interest of nutrition, but it’s definitely a tried and true method for preventing overeating. You know, eating so much that you have to undo the belt-loop a notch or two to prevent in impending explosion . Nutritionists say it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive the signal from the stomach that it’s full. Remember that the Holidays are a time to celebrate togetherness, good will on earth, and new beginnings, not a time to behave like you’re at an IFOC (International Federation of Competitive Eating) event.
6. Absolute caloric abstinence can be hazardous to your diet – Absolute avoidance of ALL holiday caloric goodness frequently causes an audacious buildup that leads to reckless acts of unbridled binging. Remember that moderation is the key when it comes to sweet indulgences. So enjoy yourself, but remember the other 6 guidelines.
7. Limit the consumption of alcohol– Not only is alcohol calorie packed, but it also stimulates people’s appetites, while simultaneously reducing their will power. I can totally attest to this. During a night of drinking a few years back, a friend and I once ate an entire holiday basket of chocolates, sugar covered nuts, and candies. We couldn’t get over how FABULOUS cinnamon roasted almonds were! We then proceeded to discuss, with unbridled enthusiasm, how we could create our own almond roasting company and become millionaires! Needless to say we both felt like absolute crap the next day, and I’m still an accountant. Remember that beer typically has less calories than most mixed drinks, and that as a general rule the more ingredients a drink has the more calories it has as well.
Be happy, be merry, be safe, and be above the influence my friends!
Feel free to share your personal Holiday survival tips in the comments below!
So that’s about it for now. I wish each and every one of you a safe and Happy Holidays!
–Lean Muscle Matt