I can hear you thinking it now : ”Oh man, another article on how to survive the holidays.” Yes it is. But this is one page that can actually make a difference. I promise. I tried really hard to get all this onto one page.
The truth is that a lot of us gain 5-6 pounds over the holidays. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have a broader strategy to avoid fattening up, you can cheat a little, enjoy yourself, and not have a flabby problem to start 2012. Here’s all you have to do, followed by a brief explanation of each.
1. Control the carbs.
If you’ve been reading the Weekly Health News for You emails we send out every week, you know that there’s a great research review out there called “What Make us Fat.” This book summarizes the last 100 years of weight loss research and shows pretty conclusively that excessive consumption of carbohydrates what produces excess body fat.
Mark Sisson, in the excellent book “The Primal Blueprint” takes this discussion further explaining that excess carbs produce excess insulin, and this in turn leads to increased fat storage. He suggests keeping carb consumption in the 100 – 150 grams per day to maintain weight. Stay closer to 100 to lose weight. Following this advice, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds of fat this year. Once a week I cheated and ate whatever the hell I wanted. But only once a week.
2. Get a heart rate monitor / Calculate your target zone (50-70% of your estimated max).
Sisson goes on to further explain that exercising in the aerobic zone, generally the easy cardio zone, burns more fat. To do this it’s best to get a heart rate monitor to stay within a target heart rate zone to burn fat. Training too hard burns carbs, and causes you to eat more after exercising.
Take 220- your age to estimate your max HR (or use one of the other newer formulas). Then multiply that number by .5 to get the bottom of your target range, and .75 to get the top. You can round off to make life easy
So for me, I use 40 as my age (I’m 42). 220-40=180. 180x.5 = 90, the bottom of my range, 180x.75= 135, the top of my range. So with my heart rate monitor, I try to stay between 90 and 135. This is my aerobic fat burning zone.
3.Try to get into the target zone 2 or 3 days a week for 45 mins to an hour, if possible, go outside.
In addition to working out with weights 2 or 3 times a week, try to get that low-level aerobic cardio in. Yes, you can do them on the same day if you want. And yes, you can go longer if you stay inside the zone. Try anything you can to get outside a little.
4.Read the books I mentioned in #1.
Think about ordering the books “What Makes Us Fat” by Gary Taubes and “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson. Together they’ll set you back no more than $30 (find them at Amazon.com). By reading these books during the holidays, you’ll have some motivation to avoid the chronic over-consumption of the wrong things that leads to holiday weight gain.
This will give you a reasonable strategy on which you can cheat a little and still fit in your pants on January 2nd. There you have it. Give it a try. I know some of you will, and that’s great!
In chronological order: Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Healthy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!