Worried about packing on the holiday pounds? Holiday parties, alcohol aplenty and an avalanche of finger foods, cookies and snacks that most definitely lean toward the sugary carb side of the spectrum can really bite you in the behind (and make it bigger!).
This may surprise you. Weight gain from holiday indulgences isn’t like gaining the “freshman 15.” In fact, solid research from the New England Journal of Medicine states that most people only gain 1 pound over the winter holidays. Here’s the problem: One itty-bitty pound accumulates year after year. (It’s like the bad gift that keeps on giving.)
This makes me wonder if a lot of middle-age weight gain has something to do with this holiday “snowball effect.” Gaining just a bit of weight over the winter holidays can snowball into some major poundage by the time you’ve reached your 40s.
STOP THE SNOWBALL!
Want to prevent this holiday-effect from happening to you? The following two strategies work for me, and I’m betting they can work for you, too.
1) TRY FASTING. It works and it’s not weird or difficult to do. In fact, The Fast Diet — or the 5:2 diet — which I have chronicled in my newly released book called Fast Diets, Wiley publishing, has been an absolute smash hit and has taken the UK by storm. The reason it’s all the rage? This fasting plan gets results.
Fasting is simply an intentional, short-term, “pattern-interrupt.” Basically, you give your body a break from eating. This allows some healthy internal housekeeping to go on so you can prepare your body to feast. This is a flexible and ridiculously easy strategy to have your cake and eat it, too (literally!). If per chance you are looking for a strategy to look younger, lose body fat, increase muscle mass and decrease insulin levels, you may just want to check this fasting thing out.
I was a competitive body builder in my 20’s and was pretty much dialed into the body-building circuit. One of the best experiences I had was the pleasure of meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger. I asked him what were competitors’ biggest roadblocks to winning his Arnold Classic. He said people are afraid to get a little hungry. It’s okay to be a little hungry. Hungry can get you healthy, lean and strong. But most people can’t be hungry for five minutes.
Arnold was definitely on to something.
2) DON’T EXERCISE LIKE A DOPE. I mean this respectfully. I say this with Petrucci love. But, I must say it. Don’t use old school, outdated methods to fight fat. You can outsmart a Christmas cookie. Here’s how:
Fasting and Exercise = More Fat Burning
Fitness guru/co-author Pat Flynn and I walk you through this concept in Paleo Workouts for Dummies, Wiley publishing. One of the best features of this book is the clearly spelled out fat-burning shortcuts, with pictures that portray how to perform them. It’s all very simple and clear-cut. Pat and I are all about burning fat. Pat likes to refer to it as: “burning fat like raw meat on a hot grill.” Bring this book with you when you work out, whether it’s in your basement or at the gym. It will walk you right through your work out.
If you want to enjoy eating and not become maniacal and overly obsessive about every little thing you put in your mouth over the holidays, then you have to become a natural fat burner. This is like supreme goddess stuff. This means you’re sitting and you’re burning fat. You’re at work and you’re burning fat. You’re at home taking care of your kids, and you’re burning fat. You can train your body to do this.
Here’s the holiday plan for slaying holiday weight gain:
3 Steps to Blasting Fat
- Do high-intensity exercise, such as weight lifting
- Combine high-intensity exercise with metabolic conditioning (called met-cons). Metcons are short, powerful “burst” exercises. The idea is to go as hard as you can and as fast as you can for a short period of time. You perform a certain number of rounds as quickly as possible with good form.
- Down-regulate your body with low-intensity exercise. I call this doing what you love. Whether it’s walking, hiking, yoga, Pilates, biking or swimming. Just make sure it’s a slow, play pace, and it’s something you love.
When you do high-intensity exercise, focus on the operative word — intensity — rather then time. 30 minutes is all you need. The heavier you can go with the weight and still keep good form and proper structure, the more you’re going to rip through that fat and become that natural fat burner.
If you’re saying, “Yuck, I don’t want to get bulky. I don’t want to hurt myself, or I’m not a kid anymore, then you may want to meet my parents. John and El are in their late 70s and they do high-intensity weightlifting with metabolic conditioning and then down-regulate with some T’ai chi that they follow on their iPad. They are remarkably young for their age. It’s getting into these types of habits (updated exercises that don’t contain any fluff, but just what you need to get the job done) that can keep them — and you! — engaged and successful.
Tip: If you can down-regulate with some low-intensity exercise immediately after your 30-minute high-intensity exercise, you will really annihilate that extra fat hanging around. So maybe a nice brisk walk or a slow paced spin on your bike.
Want the easy button?
Just do some basic kettlebell swings. My co-author, Pat Flynn, tried to convince me that these kettlebells are really amazing. I wish I had listened earlier. I’m shocked at the power of these stupid-looking bells. They are insanely effective at giving you an overall body workout and getting you strong and lean with just a couple of movements. If you’re worried about injury, don’t let that stop you. I found when you follow the proper form, it’s actually difficult to injure yourself. Needless to say, swinging bells is definitely a go-to for me moving forward. They are a blast!
Here are some basic kettle bell moves that you can do on and off for 20 minutes. Try 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off, doing as many swings as you can in each 15-second working block, with good form.
- Dead Lifts (OMG do these help to shape your back side)
- Goblet Squats (I love what these do for your fanny. Plus this exercise helps you to move through everything you do in life easier — and they’re fun to do!)
- Kettle Bell Swings (these are the best full-body exercise)
- Turkish Get-Ups (I call this my hotel workout. If I’m in a hotel, out of town for a TV show or book tour, this is my go-to exercise. They are a full workout in and of themselves. One and done.)
- Push-Ups/Pull-Ups (classic exercises that are brutally effective)
You don’t need to do a lot to get a lot of results. Try these two tips to become that natural fat burner and chillax a little.
I’ll be doling out more holiday trouble-shooting tips and tricks this week, so if you have any specific concerns or questions, now is the time to ask!
Keep thinking big and living bold!
– Dr. Kellyann
P.s. I’m giving away the full Monty in our Holiday Book Bonanza! The whole Paleo for Dummies series can be yours! You can score all five of my books — they’ll be packaged and ready for gift giving!
Stay tuned to my Facebook page this week (drkellyann.wpengine.com) for details!