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Beat Post-Holiday Bulge

Guest Article

By Jennifer Ross, R.N.

The Christmas decorations are stored away. The leftovers are gone. But those extra pounds you gained while gorging at holiday meals remain. You're not alone. About half of Americans put on five to seven pounds during the holiday season.(1)

Now that your hectic holiday shopping and social schedule has slowed, it's time to begin a diet and exercise regimen to help shed those holiday pounds. But don't expect to take the weight off too quickly. If you follow a balanced diet and exercise routine, a loss of one to two pounds per week is considered healthy.

Nutritious Success

Reducing your current intake by 500 calories per day can help you achieve your goal of losing a pound per week. Dropping the weight is easier if you eat a variety of foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat. Stock up on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and steer clear of cakes, cookies and candies.

You should also limit your fat intake to 20 to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake (about 45 to 65 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet). Limit foods containing saturated and trans fats like butter, margarine, shortening, cheese, cream and whole milk. Opt for monounsaturated fats found in olive and canola oils and nuts.(2)

Eat Often, in Moderation

Consuming small, frequent meals can help keep hunger at bay. Some evidence suggests that eating as many as five meals a day may boost your energy level and improve your mood, which will help you stick with your healthy eating habits.(3)

Moderating portion sizes also allows you to enjoy all the different foods you like to eat, while satisfying your taste for an indulgence every now and then.

Work It Off

The American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity (enough to burn 200 calories daily) on most days of the week.(4)

A combination of aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging or swimming, and strength training are key to a balanced exercise routine that will help you work off the weight.

Strength training is especially important since it can increase your lean muscle mass. This, combined with fat loss from cardiovascular training and good nutrition, will improve your overall body composition by lowering your body fat percentage.

Make Fitness Fun

Choose workout activities that you enjoy or you won't stick with it. Some people enjoy standard exercises such as running on the treadmill, stationary cycling and weight lifting. If you don't like those activities, you could go dancing, find a game or sport you like to compete in or take up a hobby that keeps you moving, such as biking, hiking or skiing.

You can burn even more calories by simply taking the stairs or choosing a parking spot farther away from your destination's entrance.

Keep It Up

Maintaining a balanced diet and exercise regimen can help you take off those extra holiday pounds, and it can be the basis to help you establish a healthy lifestyle that will benefit you for years to come.

(1) Source: Bella Online.
(2) Figures are based on nine calories contained in one gram of fat.
(3) Source: "Secrets of Successful Losers," from Consumer Reports on Health, January 2000.
(4) Source: From the Experts..

Courtesy of ARA Content. Copyright 2003. Used by permission.

The above guest article was posted on this site July 26, 2003.

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