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5 Strategies For Avoiding Weight Gain During The Holidays
by Kindra Trelaor, CSCS

Holiday season 2014 is upon us, but that doesn't have to mean that holiday weight gain is inevitable as well! If you're looking to avoid packing on the 5-7 pounds that most Americans gain between Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day, never fear. Employ these 5 simple strategies for staying lean between now and 2015.

1. Prepare meals and snacks in advance to save time and temptation.

Start now. Double the quantity of the evening meals that you make for the next two weeks and put the extra portions in the freezer. Thaw and eat these healthy meals during the holiday season rather than ordering take out when you're short on time. Once the season gets fully underway, dust off the slow cooker. Having a hot, healthy meal waiting at home will reduce the temptation to compound poor eating at holiday meals and parties with extra dinners out after long days of shopping or visiting loved ones. Bring lunch with you to work to make eating clean away from home a no-brainer. Additionally, carry healthy snacks in your purse, brief case, car, and jacket pockets. Having nuts, veggies, and nitrate-free jerky available at all times will help keep you away from fast food and sugary snacks when errands or run long or you find yourself starving in traffic.

2. Keep your workouts short, intense, and when possible, early in the day. 

Intensity is the key to fitness for fat loss, so especially when pressed for time, go hard. Substitute 15-20 minutes of interval training for longer cardio, and when you can't get to the gym do burpees, squats, lunges, and push ups in your living room. Ideally, get your short and intense workout done early, before the day takes on a life of its own.

3. Avoid liquid sugars.

Nothing spikes our fat-storing hormone insulin faster than liquid sugar. Skip the season's hot chocolate and sugary coffee drinks, choose between starch and alcohol at holiday meals, and if you elect for cocktails, avoid anything made with sodas or fruit juice. Red wine and clear alcohols contain the least sugar, so stick with these.

4. Remember the 80/20 rules of fat loss. 

Two 80/20 rules govern our ability to control body fat. One: When it comes to getting or staying lean, 80% of our results come from nutrition and the other 20% from exercise. Two (at least in weight maintenance mode): if we eat clean 80% of the time, the other 20% of our meals and snacks almost don't matter. Ergo, don't let a few holiday indulgences tempt you to "go nuts" with food and drink until January. Keep cheat meals to 20% of your weekly intake, and enjoy them. The rest of the time, stay clean. If you follow tips 1-3 above, you will have no trouble making these rules work in your favor. 

5. Don't Stress.

Ok, easier said than done, but seriously, stress won't help. When stress levels climb, so does the fat-storing hormone cortisol. Build in moments of quiet, do less holiday shopping, shop on-line in your pajamas, and above all, concentrate on the time spent with family and friends this season rather than on holiday perfection. 
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