How to Lose the Holiday Hump

Date January 3, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Categories Health Care


Health and Fitness Tips
Start the New Year with advice from Julie Lueking

During the holidays most of us have enough goodies to turn ourselves into a sugar cookie! If you don't feel like the skinny self you did last year, then this article is for you.

The best way to get you into gear is to devise a plan for yourself. Start with making a list of goals you want to achieve. List them in order of importance. Take a look at your first goal. Most will choose weight loss. If weight loss is your top priority, then listen up! Losing weight is extremely hard when you don't have a strategic plan. But when you break it down and take it day by day it seems a little more manageable. Weight loss comes from healthy eating choices and exercise.

Let's tackle the first issue: diet - or healthy eating habits and calories. Around 80% of how you look in your favorite pair of jeans is what you eat! Take a look at what you're putting in your mouth. Create a food log for a week and see what you're eating and drinking! Yes, you have to write down all the snacks you eat, even if it's that small piece of fudge! You might be surprised to see what your list consists of! Once you have created a food log look at how many time a day you're eating, what kind of snacks you're choosing, how large your portion sizes are, and what might trigger your eating habits! In the evening I crave chips or ice cream. So, I know that night time is my trigger time to pig out! I can try to either change what I am snacking on or I can try to cut down on how many times a week I have evening snacks.

Starter Tips. Here are some healthy eating choices to focus on:

  • Try to eat 4-5 small meals a day.
  • Include veggies, fruits, whole grain, and protein for meals and snacks.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Try to limit sugar intake.

Once you have created a food log, take a look at what you can change about your food intake. For example, if you notice that you're not eating breakfast, EAT BREAKFAST! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It provides your body with fuel for the day. Try to incorporate the healthy eating tips above. Another crucial ingredient is caloric intake or how many calories you are eating a day. When we take in as many calories as we expend we are in energy balance. We maintain the weight we are at. Energy in = energy out. When we take in more calories than we expend, we store the calories as fat. When we expend more calories than we take in, we lose weight.

It's funny how simple it really is!

The second best way to lose weight is to exercise! Exercise is a crucial ingredient in the weight loss recipe. It's not only good for burning calories but promotes better sleep, improves your mood, and combats chronic disease. The first question you need to ask yourself is how many days a week do you want to exercise. How often should you do weight training or cardiovascular exercise?

Cardiovascular exercise, which may include running, walking, biking, swimming, etc. is the best way to burn the calories. Try shooting for 30 minutes of cardio exercise per workout. If you are a beginner to exercise, start with choosing 2-3 days a week to work out. Set aside a time in your day planner and pencil yourself in. Try to give yourself an hour to go to the gym. If time is an issue, something is better than nothing. Guidelines suggest that exercise be done 4-6 days a week. Start slow and then work your way up to the recommended amount. You will get there. If you make too many changes in a short period of time, you may burn yourself out!

The next important exercise is weight training. Toning your muscles will complement your weight loss. Building lean muscle helps you to burn additional calories and start toning up your problem areas. Once again if you're new to exercise try to spend 2 days a week toning and build your way up. I suggest using a personal trainer to set you up with exercises either at a gym or at home. Doing the exercises correctly is half the battle.

If you start this New Year's resolution of weight loss, remember to take it day by day. Start slow and work your way to a new and healthier you. If you combine a healthy diet and exercise you will find you are happier, have more energy, look better and have a longer life with the people that you love!