So it turns out that the average person gains about 1 pound over the holiday season – which is not really that much at first glance. However, when you consider that the average adult is expected to gain 1-2 pounds a year then it changes the story slightly. Could it be that the 1-2 pounds we gain each year is due to our holiday habits? What would happen if we could eliminate the holiday weight gain?
What started this myth that we should all be worried about it over the holidays? It's likely a combination of factors the two big culprits being the commercial weight loss industry and ourselves.
It's no mystery that we live in a highly commodified society where every holiday has been packaged, branded and sold. It should come as no surprise then that the myth of massive weight gain over the holidays has been consistently affected by the companies and products that will benefit most from it.
Yes, we (me and you) are equally to blame. In a number of studies, when people were asked how much weight they typically gain over the holidays, the average was well above 1-2 pounds. In some cases as high as 10 pounds! What this should tell you is that we have misconceptions about our own weight gain or weight loss and that it seems we are much harder on ourselves than maybe we need to be.
Fact # 1: If you are overweight you should be on alert
Now, the story gets more interesting when we look at people who are already overweight – in this case, studies show that this person could expect to gain, on average, 5 pounds over the holidays! So while the holiday weight gain has been grossly exaggerated in main stream media and in our own minds, the holidays should still be considered a “high risk” time for people who are overweight.
Fact # 2: What is working against you?
Where to begin? Here's what you need to remember, one of the most important effects on weight (losing or gaining) is stress. Think about it. Usually the holidays is a stressful time – it gives us every excuse psychologically to break the good habits by over eating, consuming more alcohol, increasing cigarettes per day, less sleep and on and on. Physiologically speaking, stress also affects our bodies ability to function properly often storing more fat (or conversely the inability to break down the fat effectively).
Fact # 3: Goal Setting = Success
Research also tells us that effective goal setting is one of the most important things you can do to be successful in achieving whatever your health goal may be. There are helpful tools available to guide you through this process – including worksheets and suggested questions to ask yourself to make sure you are setting realistic expectations for yourself.
Weight gain and poor health are not inevitable over the holidays. There are very easy things anyone can do to avoid gaining weight over the holidays – if you are already overweight you should be especially aware of your habits over the holidays.
In addition, establishing clear goals for your health over the holiday is an important step as you head into the New Year (think New Years Resolutions). What you should definitely avoid is using the holidays as an excuse to break every good habit. This will only lead to delaying or self-sabotaging your long term weight or health goals.