Christmas festivity is arguably the most indulgent and the heaviest meal of the year. Surviving the Christmas season can be really trying for almost everyone with a lot of desserts, cookies and tasty food around us. This is the time of the year when most people are on holidays and with so many relatives and friends visiting, food is available so a little indulgence can never hurt. A bite of chicken pie here and an extra serving of pudding there seem harmless at the time. However as the Christmas festivities continue, those extra helpings could be clinging to your tummy, thighs and by the end of December you will have gained between 1-2 kilos. Research indicates that weight gained over the holiday season occurs around the trunk (middle part of the body) and this is greatly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and Diabetes. These extra kilos gained innocently during this period will strike you after the festivity and can take a depressing three or months to shed. So if you are concerned about that bulging waistband, here’s some ways to help you shake it off;
First it is good to know that a post-Christmas diet plan needs to be well-planned, sensible and above all balanced. Do not go for fad/crash diet or quick fixes because their effects do not last for long and this can leave you more frustrated. Remember that cutting calories below 1200 will be counterproductive since you still need strong muscles to exercise and energy to carry out your daily chores.
Never skip meals or starve yourself as this shuts down metabolism which is a key process to aid in weight loss. Starvation also makes you feel tired, woozy, and hungrier and this can easily make your weight plan unsustainable.
Distribute your meals throughout the day rather than eating few large portions. You may also want to deviate from traditional three meals a day and eat only when hungry. However try not to skip breakfast. It is the most crucial meal of the day since it keeps your metabolism going and helps prevents binge eating during the day which can tamper with your weight loss goal.
Maintain a steady intake of proteins i.e. 60 grams per day to aid muscle-building for exercising. This helps increase your metabolism hence promote you body’s ability to burn fats.
Eat whole carbohydrates such as whole bread/pasta, brown rice since they have low glycemic index (measure of how carbohydrate –containing food elevates blood glucose). Take meals 2-3 hours before you sleep since the unused carbohydrates will be converted into fats thus negating your goals.
Cut down on junk foods such as cakes, chocolates, ice cream and potato chips as they contain lots of sugar and ‘bad’ fats. Substitute your dessert and snacks with fruits and vegetables like water melon, apples and vegetable salad.
Increase your intake of dietary fiber which is found in unprocessed foods and plenty in vegetables. Have two thirds of your plate filled with vegetables and distribute the remaining one third between proteins and carbohydrates. Dietary fiber is not a magic to weight loss but it is very effective since it makes you feel full by eating less and stays in the stomach for longer hence you are able to control your appetite.
Avoid any caffeine –containing foods or drinks when you are about to go to sleep so that you are sleepy and tired enough when you go to bed. Good rest and enough sleep of at least 7-8 hours at night boosts your metabolism.
While concentrating on reducing your portion sizes and cutting down calories, do not forget the importance of exercise. Cardio exercise such as biking for about 20-30 minutes per session gives the body time to exhaust its glycogen stores and switch to a fat burning environment. Your exercise should not last less than 20-30 minutes so that the body is able to burn more fats. Enroll in fitness class or gym if you can so that your instructor can monitor your exercise.
Finally, a weight loss plan needs one to be patient and perseverance since it might take a few weeks before you notice any physical change. However after about a month you will be able to see the results and realize that your previously tight-fitting clothes are loose. Have someone to keep you focused, a friend or relative, who will encourage you when you feel like you are not achieving your goal.