You spent several sweltering August afternoons earning that flatter belly.
And even when the calendar turned to fall, you were at the gym shaving inches off the waist line. Throughout it all, you skipped the drive-through lane for a healthy lunch packed from home.
But the holidays are looming.
And guess what?
All that hard work and less-than-tasty food through the summer and autumn could be for nothing if you let this gluttonous season get the best of you. Those shed pounds could be ambling back into your life like the ghost of Christmas Pastries if you let them.
So don’t, experts say. Yeah, just don’t.
We spoke to Staci B. Lupberger, the assistant director at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health & Wellness Center in Aurora, about ways to avoid that holiday weight gain. Here’s some of her advice.
That finely tuned weight loss regimen served you so well through the warmer months, and that’s awesome. Keeping that workout schedule in the face of a busy holiday schedule is tough. And making sure your diet is high in greens and lean proteins is daunting in the face of Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas candies.
But it is possible, she says. You just need to work extra hard at it this time of year.
“The main point around the holidays is planning,” Lupberger says.
If you’re traveling away from home, do some research beforehand to see what gyms or walking trails are nearby. Then carve out some time between holiday festivities to make sure you get there.
Look up grocery stores near where you’re staying, too, and choose plenty of healthy snacks that will help you avoid those mountains of cookies and sweets tempting you all season long.
DON’T SAVE IT FOR THE RESOLUTION
With a New Year looming just a week after Christmas, it’s tempting to skip a few workouts and tell yourself you’ll go extra hard when the calendar turns.
That’s a bad move.
For one, the gym that first week of January is jam-packed with well-meaning new faces. And while only top-notch jerks look down on the newbies trying to get in better shape, waiting for a machine can be frustrating.
But it’s not just that you’re saving your work for an even-more challenging time of year.
Lupberger says if you’ve spent months getting into shape before the holidays, ditching that routine could make it harder for your body to get it back.
“Pushing it off and waiting until January will throw off the metabolism that they have worked hard to maintain,” she says.
And as it gets harder to shed pounds after Jan. 1 than it was before Thanksgiving, the inevitable guilt seeps in, and that doesn’t help anyone.
LAY OFF THE JUG
Seeing those close — and in many cases, thankfully distant — relatives around this time of year makes many of us want to reach for the bottle.
And for most a drink or two at a holiday party is probably OK.
The key, Lupberger says, is to treat that glass of wine the same way you would some pie at dessert or an extra helping of fatty mac and cheese.
There aren’t any real nutrients in your alcohol, so it can generally only add some unnecessary calories.
An easy work around to the temptation, she says, is getting to a party a little late and ducking out a little early. That means you aren’t there and surrounded by other drinkers for as long, and that should mean fewer chances to grab a drink.
If you’re feeling social pressure, grab a drink at the start and sip it extra slow, that way you at least have a drink in hand even if you’re ingesting only minimal calories.
And be careful how many glasses of wine you opt for, Lupberger warns, because it could lower your inhibitions in other areas of your diet.
“Alcohol does trigger people to make unhealthy decision,” she says, noting the words of a client who said: “Wine is the gateway to food.”