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Holiday Weight Loss Tips

Holiday Weight Loss Tips

Karen Baar

It Just Keeps Going The holiday season consists of nearly two  months of celebrating, says Bartlett, with goodies appearing in homes and  offices at Thanksgiving and continuing until the beginning of January.

"By Christmas, most of the plans to eat less and exercise more have dwindled,  and it's easy to gain a significant amount of weight, even seven to 10 pounds,"  she notes. One way to monitor your intake over time: Keep track of your daily  habits and set weekly goals around food intake and exercise.

Realize the Challenge "At any time of the year, losing weight and  keeping it off is very difficult," says Bartlett. "Holidays are an especially  high-risk time." The idea that you should stick to a "diet to lose pounds" is  adding stress to an already stressful season.

Set achievable goals, suggests Bartlett. Sure, you may be able to exercise  four days a week and eat only 1,400 calories a day at other times, but is it  really feasible during the holidays? You're much more likely to stick to your  plan and succeed if you set your expectations more realistically, aiming to  maintain your weight or to minimize weight gain to, say, one to three  pounds.

Write It Down When you've figured out your goals, write them down  and keep a diary of what you eat. "When researchers talk to people who are  successful at losing weight and keeping it off, they inevitably say that writing  everything down made the biggest difference. It's that willingness to stay in  touch with what you're eating that's important," Bartlett explains.

Even more critical is keeping track of your weight: Group members weighed in  every week. "People say this accountability factor makes a big difference,"  notes Bartlett. "Often, people avoid the scale because they don't want to come  face-to-face with the news." But if you detect a two to three pound gain,  there's still time to get back on track before things escalate.

Buddy Up It's easy to underestimate the toll that the season takes  — physically, psychologically, and emotionally. To avoid gaining weight, you  need commitment and awareness. It's best to do this with a group of people —  even one or two friends or a close buddy — whom you can call upon to talk about  eating concerns.

In Bartlett's group, members "got specific" when providing one another with  support, preparing strategies for potentially troublesome situations coming up  that week. For instance, how would someone manage her food intake with three  holiday parties in a row? When the group got together the following week, they'd  review how things had gone.

Identify Difficult Situations One of the best outcomes of a  calorie chat group is identifying the situations that cause you to overindulge.  Barbara Bohner, a 55-year-old elementary-school guidance counselor, who has  worked with Bartlett since last December, has her own trick for getting through  parties: "I eat raw vegetables or a piece of fruit before I go out, so I have  something in my stomach. I don't drink any alcohol; instead, I try to hold a  glass of sparkling water, so I feel like I'm doing something with my hands. And  I try to talk more than I eat.

Avoiding alcohol also appeals to Martha Barchowsky, a 43-year-old  businesswoman who has lost more than 100 pounds working with Bartlett. "Last  year I had a New Year's Eve party; I served everyone champagne to toast the  holiday, but I had sparkling water in my champagne flute. It's not the champagne  that matters; the real deal is that you're celebrating with your good  friends."