Maintain your weight this winter

Man and woman hiking together

Winter weight gain is a popular topic every holiday season. While oft-cited gains of five to 10 pounds appear to have been largely debunked in recent years, more modest gains of a pound or two are common during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.1

The holidays are a time when we are more likely to be exposed to rich food and drink, experience interruptions in our meal schedules, and put our exercise routines on hold in favor of get-togethers with friends and family.

But there are some steps you can take to help keep yourself in shape and still enjoy the holidays. These steps aren’t much different from the ones you already know about!

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 when you consider that a single peppermint mocha provides as much as 470 calories2, 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? 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 from time to time.

Find time for exercise

Exercise is always an important part of a weight-control strategy . Yes, it’s a busy time of year, but most of us can still find a few minutes each day to be active.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines3 suggest healthy adults get a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking at a 15-minute-per-mile pace. To prevent unhealthy weight gain, you need more—approximately 60 minutes of moderately to vigorously intense activity on most days. Whatever you do, the main point is to move more and sit less! Check the easy exercise tips, but talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

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 a little after work – like jogging with the dog, using an exercise ball, and weight training.
  • Mix and match – To get to your 150-minute weekly goal, you can play tennis for 60 minutes one day and walk two days for 30 minutes each and two days for 15-30 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 half an hour on two days. For more tips, check out the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition at: (link opens in new window).

Stick with it

If you maintain a steady exercise routine and watch your calorie intake, you should be able to maintain your current weight or even slim down this holiday season.

To find out how to better manage your food and beverage intake, check out (link opens in new window).


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