Keeping the pounds off during and after the holidays
With Christmas festivities over with, the next holiday is New Year’s Day. For active individuals the routine does not change that much. The problems arise from the outside influences that often throw a wrench into the routine. A few examples include a few meals that are larger than the usual evening meal. Then Christmas is often a time for family, relatives, and friends to gather. This year has the pandemic situation that limited a lot of family gatherings. While recommendations were to limit visitation, I have seen many posts on social media of families still getting together. The normal routine of going for a run is often hindered by visiting family or relatives that want to visit and travel to nearby events. Then, for the sports-minded, the Bowl Game Extravaganza on television begins. The number of bowl games is reduced this year, but there are enough football games to take up more than a Saturday afternoon. Almost any day is open for a bowl game and it is one other interruption of a routine that a person normally used for exercise. And the NBA basketball season is starting up to add to the already large number of hours of sports entertainment.
Another minor problem is that while the Christmas meal is relatively healthy, it is often a case of eating too many second and third helpings. The food for television viewing is more of a buffet and not necessarily healthy. Chips, dip, sweet rolls, and a few carrot sticks. Beverages are more likely to be beer and wine to add to the calorie count. With added calories from meals and snacks, limited amount of time to exercise, it is very easy to put on a few extra pounds from the two weeks of holiday celebrations.
For many individuals that make resolutions for the New Year it is often to lose the weight gained from the holiday eating. For some reason it only takes two weeks to gain those added pounds, but more like two months to lose those pounds. It is never a fair fight when it comes to weight loss.
One of the easiest methods of keeping the weight gain to a minimum over the two weeks, and to get rid of any excess pounds after the two weeks, is to walk it off. Walking is a natural means of travel for humans and only requires a commitment to put in a few minutes a day. Walking to lose weight is one reason to start a walking program but there are many other benefits. Walking helps reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, a stroke, a hip fracture, depression, and even some forms of cancer, according to Johns Hopkins White Papers edition of ‘Nutrition and Weight Control for Longevity’. Walking can also improve sleep, tone muscles, reduce stress levels, relieve back pain, strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, and preserve brain power. And for some of the senior aged people it is easier on the joints.
The recommended amount of time a person needs to prevent weight gain is 150 minutes a week, or roughly 25 minutes a day. If you need to lose weight the number of minutes recommended increases up to 300 minutes a week. This amounts to an hour a day for five days. The hour does not have to be all at one time. It can be divided into 15 minute bouts of walking four times a day. This can be during half time of the football game for those sports junkies.
A study of 5,000 adults who walked as little as30 to 59 minutes a week were 26% more likely to lose weight than gain weight over a 15 year period. Adults who walked between 60 and 240 minutes a week were 33% more likely to lose weight than gain weight. And those individuals that walked more than 240 minutes a week were 44% more likely to lose weight than gain weight.
For individuals that are sedentary the recommendation is to start slow and gradually increase the number of walking minutes. Buy some comfortable walking shoes. Running shoes can be substituted for comfortable wear. The key is to not get discouraged and be as consistent as possible. If a few days are missed don’t give up, but motivate yourself to keep walking and understand that the process is not a quick fix, but a long term challenge for a healthier life. Most cell phones have an app that records your efforts and will help motivate you when you see the improvement. As the routine of walking gets easier the pace of the walk may increase from 3 miles an hour to 5 miles an hour. By the time next year’s two week weight gain is scheduled, the odds are good that the weight gain will be a thing of the past.