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Exercising Values

Happy, Healthy, Kind, & Considerate Kids

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain While Enjoying Your Family and Friends

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I'm not sure who the average person is or how the experts come up with these numbers; but the estimates are that the average person just put on a couple pounds over the long holiday weekend and that by New Years Day this average person will weigh an extra 5-12 pounds, five of which  will never be lost. These statistics don't have that much to do with you but the choices you made over the past few days do. Think about what you ate and how active you were these past few days. If you think your choices could be improved then I'd like to help you with a tip a day for a healthier, happier family.

Rather than being overwhelmed by 10-20 tips for keeping that weight off, I'm going to share just one tip a day that you can focus on for that day. Today's tip is to reflect on the differences in how you feel when you make various choices. Do you feel sluggish, tired or demotivated after eating more than usual? We make our holiday eating choices to indulge our need to feel pampered and loved, to enjoy time with friends and family,  to relive happy moments from our past and to enjoy the flavors of the food itself.

Let's look at that first reason for extra holiday eating: people eat to fill emotional needs. Only you know if this works for you or if you only end up feeling unsatisfied or guilty. Do you actually feel better when you exercise more discipline in your choices? Choose what actually makes you feel better. If that turns out to be eating with abandon there are ways to minimize the damage or prevent it all together.

If you are careful about what you eat day to day the holidays might be the time you allow yourself to just eat for pleasure alone.  Our day to day eating strategy must consider the health building potential of the food we eat or we will be setting ourselves up for disease and settling for less energy, vitality and appearance than we could have. But a rare break from that strategy  can even have advantages.

The occasional larger meal will reboot your leptin levels and actually make it easier for you to lose weight. Chronic dieting only shuts down your metabolism but the occasional splurge will reset it. Also, if you eat extra but exercise enough to burn it off, you will maintain your weight better that the person who did not eat extra but also did not exercise. Both eating and exercise stimulate your metabolism so by keeping your exercise ahead of your eating you actually receive weight-loss benefits from both.  If you do exercise that builds strength you will turn those extra calories to muscle and not fat.

The second reason that people want to enjoy time with family and friends just takes a little shift in thinking. Fill your plate with less and focus more on the conversation. Get to know what is going on in the lives of the people you love. Make them feel special by asking about their lives. Put less emphasis on the food and more on your family. After dinner, make it a tradition to go for a walk together to see the lights in the neighborhood or perhaps to take some food to a shut-in neighbor. Doing something fun like tossing the football around or something meaningful like helping a neighbor shovel their driveway will set up your children to associate holidays with activity and helpfulness rather than over-indulgence.

Now as to enjoying the food itself. By all means do. Studies show that the first bite contains more than half of all the pleasure in eating any food. So taste everything. Stop before you are uncomfortable. Include some foods that build health like fruits and vegetables and eat more of these. Make time for a little exercise preferably something you can do with your family. Kids will enjoy tossing a frisbee around and you will be likely someday to see your grandchildren doing the same thing with their kids because you started this habit and tradition.

Focusing on the time spent with family and friends will set you up to eat less and therefore to weigh less at the end of the holiday season. You could also use the extra calories to build muscle if you pair the right kind of workout with your increased calories. For today, just reflect on how your current choices make you feel and make the adjustments necessary to feel better physically,mentally,socially, and spiritually as you choose what is genuinely in your own best interest.

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About the Author

Pamela Davenport


For decades I have helped countless parents and their children overcome significant obstacles. My unique accomplishments in the fields of child development, health, and fitness have given me an unparalleled perspective and expertise that I would love to share with you.

  • Award-Winning Author and Parenting Coach
  • Mother of six and grandmother of five
  • Studied Juvenile Justice at Stanford University
  • Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Experienced family counselor
  • Support group leader for struggling parents
  • Taught health at the university level
  • Program manager for the personal training programs at two colleges
  • Personal Trainer helping people lose 5lb-100lb+
  • Two-time Ironman Triathlete and competing member of team USA
  •  UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award 2017