December 13, 2023 2:48 pm

Did you know that in a Forbes Health poll, improved fitness was the number one New Year’s resolution for 2024? This should come as no surprise because weight loss and improved fitness are always at the top of these polls. Emerald Laser providers see thousands of patients every year whose goals are to reduce fat, lose weight, and feel better using a unique cold fat removal treatment. But why are the months leading up to New Year’s Day so difficult? And how can we stay on track better? This article will discuss ways to help you stay focused during the holidays, making your fitness goal easier to achieve.

Why It’s So Hard to Stay in Shape During the Holidays

When you consider what the holidays have become for many people, they really are the perfect storm of healthy lifestyle obstacles. Here are five factors that make the holidays such a difficult time to keep the weight off.

1. Stress

Many people don’t realize this, but feeling stress leads to weight gain. It’s a little more complex than stress eating, though. When you feel stress, it triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response. Your body releases cortisol, which allows your body’s energy to surge, but it also makes you hungry. Even a non-survival situation, like a stressful day of errands or trying to rush out to the store to shop during your lunch break, can trigger this response.

2. Travel

Whether you are the one traveling or you’re hosting out-of-town guests, the frenetic travel schedule around the holidays can shake anyone off of their diet as well as their exercise routine. Even if you plan to get your steps in while you’re away, you know how often these plans can get derailed during vacation.

3. Time

Attending holiday-related events usually means less time for your daily routines. If you have children, you may have even less time since they won’t be in school for a large part of the month of December. You may find it harder to get up early for a run or the yoga class before work.

4. Food

The holidays are festive times. Instead of meals, you may find yourself attending feasts with seemingly endless amounts of food. Additionally, many people bake cookies and other delicious items as gifts. It requires a lot of discipline to stay on a diet with so many options and treats.

5. Holiday Beverages

Whether or not the drinks contain alcohol — also a contributor to weight gain — holiday drinks tend to be heavier, carb-ier, and extremely caloric. A cup of non-alcoholic eggnog is about 225 calories, and a medium pumpkin spice latte has about 400. When you add these sugary calories on top of your normal diet, it can add up quickly.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help mitigate the holiday damage.

How Mindful Eating Works

Have you ever sat down to eat a meal or dessert, and you don’t recall a single bite? Were you distracted by conversation or looking at your phone the entire time? Mindful eating means to focus on each bite of the meal (or at least most of the bites), so you can really enjoy the experience.

Here are a few tips to help you get more out of your meals through mindful eating:

  • Take smaller bites – This will allow you to take more bites without increasing your calories. It will also ensure that if there is an interruption, it will affect a smaller portion of the meal.
  • Avoid distractions – Put your phone down and try to find a tranquil spot to eat. If you’re at a party, wait until you can find a quiet spot to take your holiday-themed disposable plate and truly enjoy your meal.
  • Listen to dinner music – Noise-cancelling headphones are invaluable for mindful eating, but what you play through them is also important. Play something that you find common. Avoid the news, podcasts, or audiobooks that will distract you from your meal.
  • Slow your pace – By eating slower, you will not only be able to enjoy your meal for a longer period, but you’ll allow enough time for your body to signal to your brain that you’re no longer hungry.

Through mindful eating, you can gain greater enjoyment from your meals while consuming fewer calories.

Balanced Festive Meals: Making Healthier Choices at the Holiday Table

A holiday feast is a minefield of bad choices, and it might not be practical to pull up your calorie-tracking app while you’re at a party. While you’re bound to make a few errors, you can usually stay mostly on track with a little discipline. Here are a few excellent options from the holiday table.

  • Proteins – Turkey, beef, fish, and ham are high in protein. Depending on the source and how they’re prepared, these holiday staples may contain higher levels of sodium and sugar. As a rule, however, they may be your healthier options.
  • Fruits and Vegetables – Not all holiday fruit-based dishes are dietetic — candied yams come to mind. However, while green bean casserole is usually pretty heavy, it’s a much healthier dish than many holiday options.
  • Nuts and Legumes – Nuts are high in protein and healthy fats. Eating a few tablespoons of nuts before the meal can keep you from putting larger portions on your plate.

Consume these sparingly:

  • Bread and rolls
  • Gravy
  • Potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Sodas and Alcoholic beverages
  • Desserts

If you are worried that you won’t be able to hit all of your favorites, consider turning your meal into a tasting and only place a single bite or two of each on your plate. Avoid piling up your plate. Even if you break down and go back for seconds, at least give yourself the chance to eat smaller amounts each trip.

Stay Active: Incorporating Movement into Your Daily Holiday Routine

This is one of the most difficult things to accomplish during the holidays because it takes time. However, it’s important to stay active, so don’t get discouraged. To stay on track, try moving your workouts to the beginning of the day. That way, if the rest of your day gets busy, you don’t lose your routine.

Remember that missing a workout does not mean that your whole routine is derailed. If you normally work out four days per week and you miss one, the other three are still worthwhile.

Manage Stress and Sleep: Prioritizing Wellness Beyond Diet and Exercise

This may seem like a radical idea during the month of December, but sleep is essential. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can trigger an increase in cortisol, which leads to a greater appetite. Additionally, lack of sleep adversely affects mood, which will make it more difficult for you to diet, exercise, and enjoy the holidays.

Celebrate the Season Without Compromise

By no means should a healthy lifestyle interfere with your ability to enjoy the holidays. On the contrary, taking strategic breaks in your health regimen may help you avoid holiday weight gain by allowing you to refocus on your goals.

If you’re concerned that all of this advice isn’t exact enough, pick three cheat days and only allow yourself to break your discipline on those occasions. This will allow you to have a few days of excess while leading an otherwise consistently healthy lifestyle.

Incorporate Emerald Laser Into Your New Year’s Resolution

Emerald Laser lipolysis is a non-invasive medical treatment that effectively reduces fat. It is ideal for individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle but are still combatting stubborn areas of fat. Emerald Laser’s advantages are:

  • It’s been proven to be effective in multiple double-blind studies
  • It is fast, with each appointment taking under 30 minutes
  • It’s painless
  • There is no downtime after each session

Emerald Laser is also cost-effective with financing available.

Embracing a Healthy Holiday

Holiday weight gain is a common occurrence, but it’s usually a manageable problem. One of the best ways to deal with seasonal weight gain is to avoid it altogether. That means keeping your calorie intake in line with the calories you burn. However, if you do find that you’ve gained a little extra weight during the holidays, Emerald Laser can help. Contact a provider near you.