Fitness Over 40

Why You Gain Weight Over the Holidays (and Your Skinny Friend Won't)

Posted by LeeAnn Langdon on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 @ 07:51 AM

The holidays are full of land mines that lay waste to your healthy diet and fitness routine. If you're like most people, you come out in January with 3-5 extra pounds, lots of regrets, and another New Year's resolution to lose weight. Sure, there are temptations around every corner, but your skinny friend always seems to come through the holidays with none of the extra baggage. How does she do it, and what are you doing wrong? Try out these 10 reasons your skinny friend will keep the weight off.

1. You don't know how to cook, so you don't know which dishes at the holiday buffet are loaded with cream, butter, and sugar. Your skinny friend skips the cream and butter-laden mashed potatoes and heads instead for the build-your-own baked sweet potato (which lets her enjoy a taste of the holidays but control the level of decadence). Instead of the 600-calorie pumpkin cheesecake, she chooses the elegant wine-poached pears. Knowing how to cook makes it easy to identify and steer clear of the food bombs that show up at so many holiday meals.

2. You skipped breakfast and lunch so you'd have lots of room to stuff yourself at Thanksgiving dinner. Your skinny friend ate a healthy, balanced breakfast and lunch, so her blood sugar hasn't plunged and left her starving and irrational at dinner. She is able to approach the meal with a comfortable appetite, she makes healthy choices, and she controls her portions carefully. You end up comatose; she ends up satisfied. Filling up on healthy food before a big holiday meal leaves you less likely to overindulge at the main event.

3. You start at one end of the buffet and take a big helping of everything. Your skinny friend scopes out the buffet table in advance, looking for the healthy options (and maybe one indulgence that she really wants to try out). She gets into the line with a strategy in place, and she fills her plate with just a taste of the indulgences, and a bigger serving of the healthy choices. And if there aren't many healthy choices, she counts herself lucky that she already ate a good breakfast and lunch.

4. At family gatherings you let your ____ [fill in the blank with the appropriate relative] push your buttons, and you drown your anger/pain/resentment in food and booze. Your skinny friend focuses on the relatives she loves, forgives the ones who annoy her, and ignores the ones who really get under her skin. She remembers that they only have power over her emotions if she gives it to them, and she makes the conscious choice to rise above the family drama.

5. You stay up all night eating junk food while waiting in line for Black Friday sales. Your skinny friend sleeps in (which helps regulate the hormones that tell your body when you're hungry and when you're full), uses her day off to get in an extra workout, and does her shopping online, stress free.

weight management during holidays6. At the Company holiday party, you drown your anxiety and office politics in alcohol and hors d'oeuvres. Your skinny friend has one drink to take the edge off, then switches to sparkling water for the rest of the night. She impresses the boss with her professionalism, and if the office politics are really unbearable, she comes armed with a good reason to leave the party early.

7. After Thanksgiving dinner you park on the couch to watch football. Your skinny friend organizes a game of touch football in the back yard, takes the elders in her family on a brisk walk around the neighborhood and then heads to the basement to try out the Wii Fit with the kids. By keeping in motion, she helps her body metabolize all the extra calories, and keeps her blood sugar from going through the roof.

8. You say yes to every party invitation, even though it leaves you too tired to get up and make your exercise class in the morning. Your skinny friend has mastered the art of the gentle turn-down. She attends only those events that are really meaningful to her, and she doesn't let them throw her whole life out of balance. If she can't (or chooses not to) attend a party, she sends the hostess a lovely heartfelt note, and an invitation for a one-one-one coffee in January.

9. You eat every holiday cookie, cake and candy that comes your way, and laugh it off with "Oh well, calories don't count in December, right?" Your skinny friend laughs along, but she knows that all the calories do count, and calories spent on cookies leave her without enough energy to get through the day. She knows how to sample just enough to keep from being a wet blanket without blowing her food intake for the day.

10. You celebrate New Year's Eve with egg nog, champagne, and rich, creamy dips. Then you watch New Year's day bowl games with junk food, a raging hangover, and a long list of resolutions for the New Year. Your skinny friend and her loved ones celebrate the New Year with popcorn and hot cider around a warm fire. They reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the year to come. On New Year's day she gives thanks that she made good lifestyle choices all season long, and she enjoyed the holiday season with no regrets.

The holiday season doesn't have to mean obsessive over-indulgence. You can enjoy the holiday spirit and keep the weight off. Your skinny friend doesn't just get swept up in the chaos of the holidays; she has a strategy for managing all the extra temptations, emotions and demands on her time.

(photo credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans)

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Tags: lifestyle habits, exercise, weight loss, diet

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