Fight The Flab: Tips to Avoid Holiday Thunder Thighs

It’s that time of year again.

Actually, who are we kidding? It’s always that time of year. When is there a time when we don’t wish that our jeans were a little looser, our abs were a little tighter, and that we could resist the temptation of that evil bag of chocolate chip cookies lurking in the kitchen (that always seems to magically disappears within an hour while cramming for finals)

You and I both know that stress = Get me some good food now por favor. Add that with the festive holiday treats from gingerbread lattes to potato latkes, It’s no wonder the average American gains 7-12 lbs during the holiday season.

But, winter break is around the corner and while shoveling down yummy treats may help us cope with the fact we have to learn a whole semesters worth of econ in three days, come the end of finals, we are going to feel (and look) like a big ball of grossness. Sure, Santa’s belly full of jelly is cute and cuddle-y on an old guy in a plush-velvet, red jumpsuit- but I’m thinking not-so-much my look. Especially when i’ll be spending some quality time post-finals on the beach…

Whether you want to drop a few dress sizes or just maintain your weight, foodfit.com gives us some tried and true tips from weight loss specialists to help us avoid those pounds that just seem to sneak up on us.

Remember: Each pound of weight lost requires that you either consume 3500 fewer calories or burn them off with exercise (and let us not forget, one shot = 100 calories. And really- who takes just one?)

1. Figure out what 1,500 calories looks like. If you’re trying to lose weight on a 1,500 calorie meal plan, you need to maintain a healthy mix of those calories – at least five servings of fruits and vegetables; six of whole grain breads, rice, crackers and other grains; two of protein foods; and three of nonfat dairy products. Learn about serving sizes: 3 ounces of lean meat, fish or poultry (the size of a deck of cards) is one serving. One slice of bread is one serving, while a large bagel may equal almost five!

2. Keep a food journal. Studies show that the act of writing down what and how much you eat helps you identify problem areas and times when calories sneak in. It also helps uncover unconscious eating and helps you spot and prevent overeating patterns. (click here for an online one to get you started!)

3. Don’t deny yourself. Cutting favorite foods out of your diet will only set you up for bingeing later on. You can still enjoy your favorites if you limit portion sizes.

4. Move your body! The only way to keep weight off is with regular physical exercise. Start out slowly, and then gradually build up your time, intensity and frequency from there. We typically underestimate how much activity is needed. Most people need to exercise 4-5 times per week for about 45 minutes. That can be broken up into 2 or 3 segments. The ideal fitness program alternates aerobic activity such as brisk walking, running or bicycling, with strength training using hand weights or gym equipment. Even with your sedentary job you can find ways to get up and walk around, take the stairs, park in the far end of the parking lot, etc.

5. Eat slowly. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that it’s full. Allow that amount of time for each meal.

6. Eat at regular intervals at least three times a day. Never skip breakfast or lunch. Skipping or under-eating meals often triggers you to overeat later in the day and can cause a drop in your metabolism.

7. Eat enough food. Studies show that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is eating foods with lots of volume yet few calories. This means plenty of things like whole-wheat pasta, beans, vegetables, fruit, and only low-fat dairy, chicken or meat. A cup of broth-based soup as an appetizer could cut the edge of your appetite without many calories. Choose 1-2/3 cups grapes over 1/4 cup raisins. Both provide 100 calories, but the grapes are more satisfying.

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