Below is an article as originally published in the North Shore News on November 21st, 2010.
To keep the weight off this holiday season I want you to eat more, drink more and, of course, move more.
To many of us Canadians, Christmas marks a time for over-indulgence. Office parties, school socials and family get-togethers all mean one thing: lots of calories. A medical journal recently published results showing that North Americans gain an average of two to five pounds per year after the age of 25. More startling is that those 1.5 to four pounds of this gain occurs between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
But fret not, there's a solution and it's the “More” philosophy of living.
This Christmas I want you to eat more, I want you to drink more, and most of all I want you to move more … and I know if you commit to following these three little steps, you won't have the Christmas weight gain blues.
Step 1. Eat More
This Christmas I want you to fill your plate with as many green leafy vegetables as you can. Be it a mountain of salad, or broccoli, spinach, artichokes, kale, okra, or a combo of them all, it doesn't matter to me. Just eat as much as you want of these, even seconds.
To make it easy for you, imagine your dinner plate having three compartments: the greens portion is half the plate, while the other quarter sections is for your carbs (potatoes, yams, rolls, etc) and proteins (turkey, chicken, roast beef, etc).
As a rule of thumb, think about your protein portion being the size of your palm.
The human body can only digest and process 20 to 30 grams of protein in a single sitting; any more than that are just extra calories that your body will store as fat.
Benefits of this approach include a sense of fullness yet not feeling groggy or weighed down.
You will find yourself more satiated, you will also find that you are consuming fewer calories as a whole, you will be getting a large amount of antioxidants like vitamin C, D and E, as well you will find yourself not heading for seconds as often.
Step 2. Drink More
Before you go and take this literally, recognize there's a catch. I want you to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. And on top of these eight glasses, you have to consume an extra glass of water for every alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you drink.
Let me put things into perspective for you: A glass of beer is about 180 calories while a 3.5 ounce glass of wine is about 120. I'm a big fan of wine, and having one isn't the problem. Studies have shown that a glass a day is actually good for us.
But if you were to have a conservative two glasses of wine per day over a two-week span you would have consumed an extra 3,500 calories, loosely translating into a gain of about one pound of fat.
Furthermore, there's a ton of benefits directly tied to drinking adequate amounts of water and having a well-hydrated body, such as improved skin tone and elasticity, increased circulation and energy levels, and more restful sleeps, to name a few.
Our metabolisms start to slow down from about age 25 and on. Each day our body needs a minimum amount of energy to work; this is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (or BMR). Your BMR varies depending on your activity levels, muscle mass and age. Any calories above and beyond your BMR get stored as fat. Many people consider holidays an escape from their routines and healthy habits, and indulge in such things as eating high-calorie foods and taking a reprise from the gym and their exercise routine. This is wrong.
I recently spoke about some of the health issues, like diabetes and cancer, that can be directly linked to diet and exercise. Who doesn't enjoy the boxes of chocolate getting passed around the office like a Frisbee during a game of ultimate? And like a pack of lions, everyone waits patiently to pounce on a second piece. So the last part of the ‘More' philosophy is to move more.
It's not a matter of “if” you are going to indulge this Christmas season as much as it is “when” you are going to indulge and what you are going to do about these extra calories.
Step 3. Move More
Walking is a phenomenal form of exercise. You get your heart rate raised while working some of the biggest muscles in your body – your legs. If you are going to eat more than you should, then burn some extra calories to lessen the weight gain blow.
The word “diet” doesn't only mean “a program to cut weight.” Its Greek's roots literally translated mean “way of living.” A diet is a year-round commitment and just because you have a holiday, you don't get a green card to over-indulge in your eating and drinking.
This holiday, and every holiday after this… takes effect, remember the “More” philosophy. Eat more greens, drink more water and move your body more – it's that easy!
You'll be happy you did and your body will thank you. Say bye-bye to the holiday weight gain blues.
Read more here.