By Sonya Hansen MD

I am struck by the amount of misinformation out there about what to do to keep the weight off during the holidays. The most common advice is to indulge and ingest excessively, and then increase your exercise to burn off the extra calories. Different types of exercise are then recommended. This tip can work on the young and lean. But over 70% of Americans are overweight. For them, following this advice will leave them frustrated and disappointed.
One study claimed Americans consume close to 7000 calories throughout Christmas Day! How much extra exercise is needed to burn that off? When walking, 100 calories per mile are burned for a 180-pound person, 65 calories per mile for a 120-pound person. You would have to walk over 50 miles to burn off your Christmas feast. Also, people are stressed, and busy decorating, planning parties, and taking care of guests. Others experience loneliness that can make extra exercise difficult. Not to mention that once stored, fat is not so easily burned off.
Every year we go through the same rituals, and it causes some people to gain 5 -10 pounds over the holidays. But more troublesome, it frequently derails progress that was made with great difficulty throughout the year.
Why not try to change those rituals and mix it up a bit? The idea of ingesting 7000 calories in one day must be called out. It’s a bad idea. What if we start new traditions that make the Holidays more about being together and less about food?
Consider adding dancing to your celebration. Invite a zumba or dance instructor and have everyone follow in a “Simon Says” style. This way you’re not only burning calories but you’re too distracted to eat in excess.
Be radical. Try a retreat. There are yoga, meditation, weight loss, detoxing, or even tree planting retreats. They usually provide healthy activities in beautiful places. You will start the New Year renewed in body and soul.
But if tradition pulls, and you find yourself gaining weight just like last year, a fasting juice cleanse can get you back on track. It makes for a great new “day after Christmas tradition.”
Wishing you and yours a very Healthy and Happy Holiday Season!

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