Six mental tricks to avoid holiday weight gain


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By Brianna Steinhilber

We enter the holidays with the best of intentions: eating a healthy meal before heading to holiday parties; squeezing in a workout a few times a week; and doing our best to stick to just one cookie.

But as much as we set ourselves up for success, a month-long cycle of open bars and dessert tables will undoubtedly test our willpower. Eating healthy and staying committed to your workouts is much easier said than done this season. Especially in those moments when you’re standing in front of mom’s famous mac and cheese, walk in to find a huge cookie tray in the office kitchen or get a last-minute invite for a fun night out with friends (when you had intended to hit the gym).

And all of those opportunities to indulge can begin to show up on your waistline. “There’s differing statistics on how much the average weight gain is over the holidays, but one thing that’s for sure is that when people do gain weight it takes them on average five months to lose it after the holidays. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but it is something to be mindful of,” says Stephanie Mansour, personal trainer and CEO of Step It Up with Steph.

Since many of Mansour’s clients are worried about maintaining their hard-earned weight loss over the holidays, she has developed some tactics they can use to make decisions that will keep them feeling good all month long, while still being able to enjoy everything the season to offer (yes, even the cookies and cocktails).

Keep these tips in your back pocket for the next time you’re tempted to skip a workout and indulge in a treat.

Do a palate cleanse

Next time you’re going into the fridge for an extra piece of pie or reaching for another cookie, stop yourself in your tracks and change your taste buds.

“My mom makes these thumbprint cookies and I could eat ten of them. In order to stop myself from doing that — since I’m a recovered sweet-a holic — I change my taste buds,” says Mansour. “I go to the fridge and get a piece of broccoli, which is kind of bitter, or a piece of a pepper to rewire [my] craving. I tell this to my clients all the time, if you find that you’re craving chips or cookies or another piece of pizza, put a vegetable in your mouth, chew it, swallow it, and change your taste buds. Nine times out of ten, you’re not going to want whatever it was that you were craving.”

Put your workout clothes on and just stretch

Next time you think about skipping your workout and are feeling unmotivated, make a deal with yourself that you’ll just stretch.

“Instead of just standing up in your work clothes or sitting on the couch and doing some stretches, I want you to take this a step further and actually go put on your workout clothes and [sneakers] and do your stretches in your gear,” says Mansour. “If you’re in your gear and you feel how good it feels to stretch your body and move around, you’re probably going to want to do more stretches and you may even want to do the actual workout you had planned.”

Make a bargain with yourself

If sweets are your kryptonite, Mansour has a trick to prevent the mindless munching: Make a deal with yourself.

“Make a bargain with yourself. Say ‘Sure, I can have that if I want, but I’m committing to doing something positive for my body first,’ she says. “If you walk around your house or apartment five times, you can have another one. If you walk for 500 steps, you can have another one. If you do 20 squats, you can have another one. Bargain with yourself to get moving before you’re allotted another round of sweets.”

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