WASHINGTON — Between festive dinners, parties and family gatherings, the holidays can be a challenging time when it comes to maintaining your weight. But there are things you can do to be prepared and avoid major fluctuation on the scale.
Over the next four weeks, WTOP’s Mark Lewis and Debra Feinstein will talk with Sally Squires, author of the Lean Plate Club™ blog, former Washington Post health writer and Washington Post Radio contributor, about tips and tricks to avoid packing on the pounds during the season. It’s the Lean Plate Club™ Holiday Challenge, and WTOP invites all listeners and readers to join in.
Below is a Q&A with Squires explaining what the challenge is and how to get started.
Q: What is the Lean Plate Club™ Holiday Challenge?
A: It’s something that I started at The Washington Post after reading a study about holiday weight gain that was done at the National Institutes of Health.
Q: What did the study find?
A: The study found that people who are at a healthy weight only gain about a pound from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and they shed that weight by spring. The trouble is that the two-thirds of us who are overweight or obese gain about two pounds and don’t take it off in the spring. So that means holiday weight can really add up.
Q: So are you suggesting that people diet now?
A: Not a chance. I would feel like Scrooge if I did that — this is a time of year to enjoy.
The Holiday Challenge is simply a way to maintain your weight from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. That way you start 2016 in a good place and can take any steps you want going into the New Year.
Q: Is this going to be hard?
A: Not at all. Over the next four weeks, you will get a tip for healthy eating and a tip for physical activity to help you maintain your weight. It’s simple.
Q: OK, so where do we start?
A: Week one is simply about taking stock. So first, it means getting on the bathroom scale to see what you weigh.
It also means just paying attention to what you eat. Studies show that when you do that, you tend to eat a little less.
Q: Does this mean recording and measuring food?
A: Yes; it helps if you can do that. The good news is that there are free apps that will make this really easy to do.
The other thing that you can do is simply watch portion sizes. Or use a smaller plate — both will help cut back a little on calories.
Q: What about exercise?
A: Being active helps you burn calories, so exercise is great. But it doesn’t mean you have to go to a gym. Lifestyle activity can help you too.
Q: What does that mean?
A: Taking the stairs when you can. Walking a little more. Parking farther from your destination. Getting off the Metro or the bus a stop earlier and hoofing it the rest of the way. You get the idea.
On the day of the actual holiday, if you can plan activities to get you up and moving for even a little time, you’ll up your calories burned to help counter that big feast. Boost your activity with quick walks, an easy bike ride or a game of touch football.
The other nice thing is that these days, smartphones will track your activity for you. I also wear a Fitbit that helps remind me to stay active.
Q: Where can we learn more?
A: You can email me questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.