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Holiday Weight Gain is Real and it Starts in October

There’s a crispness to the air, the leaves are starting to change colors and we’re all starting to think about the holidays. This month, we will celebrate Halloween, but that’s not what this article is about. There’s another reason that October is a special time of year! 

Fall is a busy season and with the holidays quickly approaching, it’s no surprise that most of us pack on a few extra pounds. Believe it or not, people all over the world give in to the abundance of tempting holiday foods. They kick off the festivities by adding a few extra notches to their belts in October and November, and then top it all off shortly after Christmas. 

On average, our weight increases about 1.3 pounds during the holiday season. This may not seem like much, but when you add in the rest of the revelries, the “average American” ends up with a new wardrobe and an extra five pounds. What’s worse than that? It can take more than five months to lose and year after year it all adds up! 

The holidays are a clear recipe for a weight gain disaster. The key in this recipe is the melted willpower! Make sure it’s completely dissolved before you forge ahead.

So, are we destined to fall off the weight loss wagon? Is there a clear path that will help keep our weight under control? What other factors are contributing to our weight gain this time of year?

Cooler Temperatures Make Your Outdoor Workout Less Appealing

Fall weather is delightfully cool and crisp and while it may be ideal for evening fire pits and roasting marshmallows, an evening run doesn’t necessarily sound appealing. In the summer months when the weather is nice, we have more opportunities to stay active outdoors and there’s so much more to do. When the colder weather creeps in, most of us would rather trade in a trip to the gym for a good movie and the couch.

You Rely on Fast Food Due to a Busy Schedule 

Soccer games, classroom bake sales and school musicals equal busy kids, but tired parents. Between professional obligations, back-to-school engagements, new routines and picking and dropping kids off at sports practices, many of us have very little time and energy left to cook by the end of the day! As a result, the entire family tends to eat on the run. 

Convenience meals that include fast food and takeout, lead to extra pounds. In general, these meals tend to be higher in sodium than home-cooked meals. Add in more calories with larger portions and you will see the scale going in the wrong direction. 

Halloween Derailed Your Healthy-Eating Streak 

Fall is a season for food-centric socializing, and that can send your calorie intake soaring. Pumpkin spice everything is consumed in mass quantities due to the fact that they are only available for a few months out of the year. Chances are you’ll snack on some bite-sized candy bars this week! Maybe you are right now. Let’s face it. A holiday doesn’t last for just one day. You will most likely have Halloween candy lying around for weeks. 

Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean that holiday weight gain is inevitable! Before you throw in the towel and succumb to that extra-large pumpkin latte, check out these tried-and-true strategies for maintaining healthy eating and fitness habits during the holiday season.

Plan Your Cheat Days

Schedule your cheat meals in advance. If you know that you have a Halloween party this weekend, make sure you’re dialed in on your workouts and your food choices this week. Remember, a couple extra trips to the gym won’t hurt! 

Break a Sweat Before a Meal

Break a sweat before you go! Make sure you get a good workout in before you head out to your Halloween party. Every little bit of calorie burning adds up when it comes to keeping your weight in check.

For Every Treat, Do 100 Burpees

If this doesn’t make you put that piece of Halloween candy back in the bowl, nothing will. People definitely have a love, hate relationship with burpees! 

You can either perform them all at once or scatter them throughout the day. This will get you in the habit of holding yourself accountable for what you’re putting in your mouth. 

Hold Out for the Good Stuff

There are going to be a lot of options when it comes to food. Some of these options will be things you love and just can’t live without. Some of it will just be “meh.” There’s definitely no need to waste your calories there. A dish that your family makes year-round regardless of the holidays? Pass on that one and save room for something you will only get once a year.

Sign Up for a Holiday-Related Race

This is a great idea, right? Grab a friend, a co-worker or your significant other and have a good time with it! There are so many fun holiday-themed racing events that are sure to keep you on track! 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

This is an important component of creating a healthy lifestyle. The holidays are for enjoying, and food is a large part of the enjoyment. Don’t deprive yourself! Just remember to eat everything in moderation and make sure you have a plan to keep you on track. 

In Conclusion:

Holiday weight gain is real and it starts in October! This is the season that encourages the increased intake of our favorite foods. Whether it’s Halloween candy, pumpkin pie or our baked sale favorites, we find no shame in treating ourselves. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate special occasions or indulge in your favorite treats. Just don’t go overboard! The key is to keep your eating to the holiday, not the “holiday season.” Good luck to you!        

Jennifer Nastasi Guzelak
I have been a personal trainer for over seventeen years and I absolutely love what I do. I honestly feel that I have one of the best jobs out there! The most rewarding part of my profession is helping one of my clients succeed at reaching their personal fitness goals. Making a difference in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile. I am currently certified by the National Sports Conditioning Association, Apex Fitness Group, and the International Sports Science Association.