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Healthy Weight Management Tips For The Holidays

There are few universal feelings, but one thing most of us dread is the consequences of the holiday spread.† Good news has arrived just in time: new medical research shows that most people do not gain 3-7 pounds over the holidays as previously suspected.† Instead, people were found to gain an average of 0.8 pounds during the holidays.† Dr. Donnica discusses this study and its implications for your health.† In addition, she discusses her top ten tips for holiday weight management.

Overeating during the holidays is a common practice we're all too familiar with. Thanksgiving is the unofficial beginning of a 5-week holiday season whose hallmark is merry-making, usually involving large quantities of food and drink.† The end of the season, however, often culminates in regret and recriminations for having eaten all that we did-and putting on often unhealthy and unwanted pounds.† We then try to deal with this (often unsuccessfully) with ambitious or unrealistic New Year's Resolutions, which generally have a shelf life shorter than the holiday season that got us there.

A major myth related to holiday weight gain has been busted just in time for this year's holiday season: most people don't gain the 3-7 pounds we previously thought.† Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) actually tracked 200 men and women from late September through early March and found that the average study subject gained only 0.8 pounds during the holidays.† Interestingly, those who said they were "on a diet" gained just as much as those who weren't.† This "gain", however, refers to weight that was still there in March, not the number that appeared on the scale the morning of Jan. 2.

Exercise made a big difference in this study, just as it usually does.† Those who reported being less physically active during the holidays gained 1.5 pounds whereas those who were more physically active actually lost 1.5 pounds.

What are the implications of this study?† First, even though 0.8 pounds doesn't sound like a lot, it certainly can add up over the course of 10 years- or a lifetime.† In fact, this may be a big contributor to the one pound per year weight gain observed in many adults.† This is just one study, however, and a relatively small one at that, especially for one dealing with such a large problem.† Furthermore, with a subject such as this one, it doesn't really matter to you what the average results were- you need to know what your results are.

Where did this myth of gaining larger amounts of weight over the holidays come from?† It may have its origins in popular expressions ("I ate so much I must have gained 10 pounds!") or in the fact that most people don't actually weigh themselves immediately before and then immediately after the holidays.† Many women may have hopes of wearing an outfit for New Years that may or may not have fit them before Thanksgiving, but when it doesn't fit on New Year's Eve, it gets blamed on a holiday binge rather than longer term bad habits.

In addition, for those who are cutting down on their exercise over the holidays, you may not gain as much weight as you presumed, but you are losing muscle mass and tone.† These factors are actually more important to your overall health than your actual weight in pounds.

When we talk about the holidays, we are talking about the five weeks from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day- from feast to feast and football game to football game.† Simple and easy changes may make all the difference in jump starting your New Years Resolutions, making them easier to write and easier to observe.† Here are Dr. Donnica's Top Ten Tips for Healthful Holiday Weight Management that can get you started on your way.

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 Eating a huge Thanksgiving Feast is as American as apple pie. Itís also the unofficial beginning of a 5-week holiday season whose hallmark is merry-making, usually involving large quantities of food and drink. The end of the season, however, often culminates in regret and recriminations for having eaten all that we did-and putting on often unhealthy and unwanted pounds. 


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