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7 Ways to Keep the Holiday Pounds Off Without Hitting the Gym

Thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion.

When it comes to the holiday season, it’s way more fun to think about the celebrations, gift-giving, elaborate meals, and time with family than to focus on staying healthy. Unfortunately, this is the time when Americans tend to gain the most weight.

The average American gains about a pound or two year, with most of that weight gain occurring during the six-week holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The biggest problem with these holiday pounds is that people tend to keep that weight on, so a few years of holiday weight gain easily adds up to being a few pounds overweight.

Nobody wants to miss out on the holiday celebrations to hit the gym, but there are still plenty of ways to keep that weight gain in check!

  • Avoid Holiday Weight Gain 1 of 8
    holiday pounds

    Here's a few not-so-hard ways to keep the pounds off without a lot of work or hours spent at the gym!

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Hit the Hay 2 of 8
    sleep

    Not getting enough sleep can backfire by slowing your metabolism and making your body pump out more cortisol. Cortisol, better known as the "stress hormone", leads to weight gain. Not only is getting an adequate number of hours of shut-eye important, so is sticking with a consistent sleep schedule. That means going to bed and getting up in the morning around the same time each day, even when you're on "holiday time."

    A study out of Brigham Young University showed that people whose sleep varied by more than 90 minutes a day were more likely to be overweight. To help make sure you're snoozing well, use an app like Sleep Tracker to determine patterns and stick with a routine that works for you. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try playing relaxing White Noise (available on the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone) while you doze off to dreamland.

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Stay on Track 3 of 8
    bing4-500x375

    One of the best and easiest things you can do to keep tabs on your weight during the holiday season is to simple be aware. Be aware of what you're eating and drinking, how much you're moving, and whether you're sleeping well. It can be hard to remember such minute details amidst the excitement of the holidays, so using an app like Bing Health & Fitness can be a helpful way to track all things health-related. It can also give you ideas of healthier foods to eat, fun workouts to do, or tell you how many calories are in your holiday dinner. I have this on the home screen of my Surface tablet so I can pop it open with one swipe of the finger and get in the right mindset for the day.

     

    Photo credit: Bing Health & Fitness screenshot

  • Socialize 4 of 8
    skydrive1

    It takes an inhuman act of restraint to stand next to a buffet of dips, spreads, and holiday cookies and not dig in over and over again. Instead, keep yourself occupied with something else. Show a friend pictures of your unruly toddler's antics using SkyDrive or offer to be the party photographer. The Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone Camera Grip easily turns your smartphone into an easy-to-hold and focus camera.

    Photo credit: SkyDrive screenshot

  • Don’t Go Crazy 5 of 8
    healthy

    There's no need to turn down your favorite once-a-year pumpkin pie, but make sure you plan ahead by eating smart throughout the day. Don't "save" all your calories for a big holiday dinner —you'll just end up overindulging and giving yourself a belly ache along with all the unwanted calories. Eat a healthy breakfast and have a protein-rich snack before heading to a party or before a big meal so you're not ravenous when you get there. If you do end up going a little overboard in the calorie department, don't call the whole day or week a wash. You can always start fresh with the next meal!

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • At-Home Workouts 6 of 8
    exercise3

    There's no getting around the fact that exercise can help keep off the unwanted pounds. Plus, it's a good de-stressor and energizer. That doesn't mean you have to hit the gym though. Prop up a tablet like the Surface and open up an app that will spark an idea for creative fitness. Daily Workout lets you pick from a bunch of five to ten minute workouts so you don't have to commit a huge chunk of time to exercising. It can be easier to squeeze in three 10-minute sweat sessions during the chaos of the holidays than finding a solid 30-minute chunk of time. Or give the 7 Minutes Fitter app a try it's seven quick minutes of high intensity exercise that gets your heart pumping in no time without needing any equipment.

     

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Calories Count 7 of 8
    wine

    Holiday cocktails can add up quickly. Did you know a innocent-looking eggnog could pack a whopping 1,000 calories?? Take a minute to discreetly pull out a smartphone like the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone to check the calorie count on your favorite beverages or snacks. Sometimes you'll be floored by how much is in just one item. Keeping track of your daily eats with an app like CalCount or My Plate can be really helpful, especially when you have lots of holiday parties to attend which means lots of opportunities to indulge!

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

  • Use Small Plates 8 of 8
    small plate

    When you're hitting up the parties, buffets, and dinner tables, pick the smallest plate possible. Your brain will think you're eating more because less food will fill up the whole plate. This might be the easiest tip of all since all you have to do is pick up a plate! Other mindful eating strategies will help you eat less without feeling like you're missing out. Be sure to chew and savor each bite, ask yourself if you're really hungry before eating, and eat slowly — it'll be another year before you have your favorite holiday dishes again.

    Photo credit: Heather Neal

 

More from Heather:

Could Needles Fix My Knee?

11 Gifts to Keep the Family Fit

20 Ways to Use Healthy Winter Foods

8 Workouts to Keep the Winter Blues at Bay

What if a Bra Could Put an End to Emotional Eating?

 

The Kynado {aka my toddler}

 

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