Maintain Your Weight This Winter

Keeping a healthy weight

During the holidays, many people pack on at least seven pounds. Learn some easy steps to maintain balance and start a simple exercise routine.

For many Americans, winter feels like time to hibernate. The days are shorter and the weather can be cold and damp, which means less time for outdoor activities. It's so easy to watch television and enjoy holiday partying, which offer high-calorie food and drinks.

Cold weather calorie busters

When trying to prevent weight gain over the holidays, be especially mindful of high–calorie beverages. That specialty coffee or latte can really warm you up on a cold day, but don't forget the calories add up – and so do the holiday drinks.

An average adult woman needs 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day, depending on her body type, age and activity level. Men need between 2,000 and 2,400 calories a day, again depending on body type, age and activity level. That's not a lot of calories when you consider one cup of non–alcoholic eggnog is approximately 350 calories and a holiday martini is more than 400 calories.

How do you handle the allure of high-calorie holiday favorites?

First, make a promise to yourself to maintain your weight during the holidays. Many people gain up to seven pounds during the holiday season. By maintaining your current weight, you're way ahead of your peers.

Set a clear goal

Health coaches suggest you create a vision for where you want to be and to set simple, small steps along the path in reaching that vision. The small steps should be specific and reachable and within a given time period. To prevent weight gain over the holidays, you could use a promise statement like, “I'll monitor my weight and not gain one ounce during the holidays.” Whatever you come up with, write it down and say it aloud, over and over.

Add exercise to your routine

To maintain your weight through the holidays, you must exercise. Remember the old adage: ‘no pain, no gain.' Although you should not put up with physical pain, you do need to go through the painful exercise of finding time on your schedule to be active.

The current standards set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest healthy adults get a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate–intensity exercise, like walking at a 15–minute–per–mile pace. To prevent unhealthy weight gain, you need more – approximately 60 minutes of moderate–to–vigorously intense activity on most days.

Easy exercise tips

  • Get an exercise buddy – Sometimes the hardest part is motivation. If you have a friend, spouse, child, or pet with you, it makes it easier to push through and stay motivated. Time also goes by faster when exercising with someone.
  • Two hours of jogging a week – You can get the same amount of exercise through 115 minutes of vigorous exercise, like jogging at a ten–minute pace. Four days of 30 minutes of jogging each week is all you might need.
  • Ten–minute sessions – Break up the routine by doing a little in the morning and again after work – like jogging with the dog, using an exercise ball, and weight training.
  • Mix and match – You can play tennis for 90 minutes one day and walk two days for 60 minutes each and two days for 30 – 45 minutes. Another option is to try swimming for 20 minutes one day, walking to the bus stop 10 minutes each day for five days, playing tag with your kids or Frisbee with the dog one day for 20 minutes, and walking on the treadmill for 40 – 60 minutes, every other day.

For more tips, check out the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Website at: www.fitness.gov.

Stick with it

If you maintain a steady exercise routine and watch your calorie intake, you can watch yourself slim down this holiday season. To find out how to better manage your food and beverage intake, check out www.choosemyplate.gov.

November 15, 2013

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