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How can you avoid holiday weight gain?

Rex Barber • Nov 23, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Being consistent in your diet and exercise is the key to not gaining the seven to 10 holiday pounds many Americans put on this time of year.

Robert Rudder, a personal trainer with Tri-Cities Lifestyles Center in Johnson City, said to keep up your workout routine this holiday season.

“I think the key word is consistency,” Rudder said. “If you have a bad day, then, you know, you get back on the next day and you try to make better choices.”

Rudder actually heads up a program at Lifestyles called Holiday Survival designed to keep people on track when faced with lavish dinners, cakes, candies and other high-calorie foods this time of year.

But Rudder said if you can’t make it to the gym you can stay fit other ways, particularly through walking. But don’t blow off your exercise, he said.

“I think that’s one of the big things, is learning how to exercise and not necessarily having to go the gym to do it,” he said.

Pam King, a registered nurse at the Health Resources Center in The Mall at Johnson City, offered some tips on how to conduct yourself before, during and after holiday parties or gatherings.

Number one is to try to not go to an event on an empty stomach.

“Try to eat small before you go, if you can,” she said.

King said something like a handful of nuts or a small turkey sandwich would be filling and healthy.

Once at the party, try to choose more filling little foods or healthier options, if there are any.

Diverting your attention is also a good way to avoid eating too much.

“Try to stay busy during the party or holiday event, just talk, mingle or socialize,” she said.

Another helpful tip is to always have a drink in hand, like water or club soda, that will make you less tempted to take a soda, or an eggnog or an alcoholic beverage that adds empty calories.

This would be a good tactic for a dieter trying not to offend their host, King said.

As for the host, or the cook, try not to taste the meal during preparation, she said.

“You could actually eat a meal while you’re cooking before you get it out on the table,” King said.

Like Rudder, King recommended keeping up exercise. Walking just 15 minutes before or after a meal or party would be preferable to no activity, she said.

“Just anything that you can do, movement of some sort, staying up, staying busy beats staying in the chair,” she said.

Meals out at restaurants are common while shopping for presents, but try to choose a restaurant where you can get grilled chicken or fish, King said. Fill up on salad and limit bread consumption, too, she said.

“If you really are serious and you’re trying to keep your weight down you really have to stay focused,” King said.

Also, don’t skip meals but choose wisely, King said.

Rudder said during big holiday meals, focus on protein. If you can fill your plate with more proteins like turkey or ham and also vegetables, and then limit carbohydrates like mashed potatoes and stuffing, calorie consumption will be down.

“A lot of things are homemade, you know, when you’re going to someone’s house to eat,” Rudder said. “You never really know what’s going into it. After a while you’re talking a (5,000, 6,000) 7,000-calorie meal, and then leftovers and stuff like that, it can add up and you have no idea what you’re putting in your mouth.”

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