Coach PaulIn America, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving and ends when we welcome in the New Year. Depending on where you live, this season is marked by trees colored with beautiful orange, gold, and red leaves; sidewalks covered in frosty, white snow; or beaches warmed by soothing sunshine. But no matter where you reside, there is one thing that all holiday celebrations have in common, food. From schoolrooms to boardrooms, in small apartments and large mansions, food is everywhere during the holidays. And for some of us, this can be a problem.


"You've got the stress of the holidays, along with a lack of sleep, and, for many, a cauldron of bubbling emotions coming to the surface -- and you've got all this food beckoning you at every turn," says Warren Huberman, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in weight control at New York University Medical Center. "It can be a dangerous combination for those who have problems controlling what they eat."


But there is good news, even for those who struggle with maintaining healthy weight levels. First of all, the problem is not as big as it seems, and secondly, there are simple things that each of us can do to keep the extra weight off during the holiday season.


Despite the hype, research shows that while less than 10% of people gain five additional pounds during the holiday season, the average weight gain during the holiday period is only one pound. Although one pound is not much, the challenge is that most people never lose this extra pound; they tend to accumulate this extra pound, year after year, leading to longer-term weight gain. But it's only a pound, so if you really want to, you can break the accumulation cycle with just two simple actions.


1. Learn Your Eating Cues. Generally speaking, apart from appetite, there are three major reasons that we eat more than we need to: visual, social, and emotional. Visual eaters eat because they see something that is tantalizing. Social eaters eat because others around them are doing so. Emotional eaters eat because food either brings comfort or stirs up pleasant memories. Knowing your eating cues will allow you to take the proper steps to put you back in charge of your eating habits. Here are some tips for each of the eating types:


Visual Eaters:

  • Fast forward through food commercials.
  • Recognize when you are full.
  • Eat smaller portions.

Social Eaters:

  • Fill your plate with low-calorie snacks.
  • Don't feel obligated to eat everything that is offered to you.
  • Don't feel obligated to eat everything that is on your plate.

Emotional Eaters:

  • Think about why you are eating.
  • Don't try to recreate past events through eating.
  • Participate in new pleasant experiences to create newer, non-food-based memories.

2. Be Intentional About Your Habits. For all of us, having a plan for managing our weight during the holiday season is essential. If you know that you are going to be eating more than normal, than plan on exercising more than normal. If you are like most people who gain an extra pound during this season, then plan on walking a total of 60 minutes during this season. That 60 minutes will burn the calories you need to get rid of that extra weight.


The holidays are a great time of the year. We get to slow down a little and spend time with the people who are important to us. By being mindful of the things you need to do about your eating and exercise habits during this period, you can have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Warmest Regards,

Coach Paul

“And if your home is just another place where you’re a stranger, and far away is just somewhere you’ve never been. I hope that you’ll remember, I am your friend.” – Rich Mullins

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