Worried About Holiday Weight Gain?

"Did you get fatter again?" one of my clients told me she asked her husband as he put on a newly purchased pair of pants for the office.

Yes, some of us try to sneak new clothes in after the holidays so that others don't notice our latest indulgence in food. That can be one strategy.

But the bad news is that somebody is going to notice. And in the end you will no doubt realize yourself that you need to do something to prevent building more fat tissue around those most critical and desired regions of the body: for gentleman, the beloved six-pack, and for the ladies, the perfectly thin arms, hips and legs.

Nobody said it's easy to keep the pounds off at the end of the year. The holiday season is quite a tough time, with food to the left and right.

"Why don't you come to my holiday party?" your colleague asks, and all you can think is, "Oh God, what can I eat there," or "Maybe I can make an excuse not to go."

You end up going, of course, and after a glass of wine you will no doubt relax.That's when the real damage begins.

Even though the food offered will wreck your diet regimen, healthy choices are sparse at best. Suddenly, you find yourself bingeing on all the foods that are offered. After all, why stop when you've already started, right?

Packing on the Holiday Pounds

The general belief is that Americans gain between five and nine pounds between Halloween and New Year's Day, but that may be an exaggeration. A study conducted in 2000 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes suggested that Americans, on average, gain only about one pound during the winter holidays.

But this weight gain accumulates over the years, possibly contributing to the overall weight gain someone experiences in the course of a lifetime.

When I conduct measurements every four to five weeks to track the success of my nutrition and exercise program for individuals, I notice that it can be much more than one pound of weight gain. The most I have seen was six pounds in a period of four weeks.

Also, I need to mention that I am on vacation from Dec. 25 to Jan. 1, leaving my clients to fend for themselves. Although I instruct in great detail (with my Austrian time management skills) on how often clients should be exercising and what they should be doing while I am gone, the opposite is usually the case.

"I feel like I am playing hooky when you are not here," I have heard many times.

The central issue is that many will be eating more and exercising less. The result? Weight gain. Simple as that.

Solutions for Creative Exercise

Sure, we all know about very basic exercises, such as walking, running or biking. Everybody talks about them. So let's talk about solutions that you not have thought about:

Solution 1: Make your environment your workout

If you live in a high-rise, those fire escape stairs can be quite a long distance, straight up. Run up them to the top and walk back down. This is a great way to not just burn a large amount of calories, but also to strengthen your cardiovascular system.

Solution 2: Fight with your kids.

No, not verbal fights. Use them to play with their body weight. Come up with games. Have a competition between you as a parent and your child. And don't just let the kids win. There is a lesson to be learned in losing as well.

Solution 3: Wii Fit

By now everyone has heard about this integration of video games and workout programs. Many of us have video consoles in our houses because of our children, or maybe we even play them ourselves. Invest in one of the Nintendo Wii Fit workout programs. They are fun and they keep you engaged, and you can do it in your home. It may not be a marathon, but it's better than just sitting there.

Solution 4: Rubber band workouts

Rubber bands for exercise are something you can purchase inexpensively almost anywhere. I am sure you can use the resistance from these rubber bands in at least five different ways. Be creative and try doing at least 30 repetitions of each movement and repeating them in sets of three. In doing so, you will manage 20 minutes of healthy movement while you watch TV.

Solution 5: Motivation

None of the above solutions will not work if you don't know why you want to do them. Everyone is different. For some, it might be to increase energy and stop feeling sluggish. For others, it is to stay attractive because they are in the sales force. Some others might feel that they want to stay physically active as long as possible, and they understand the saying "Who rests will rust."

Either way, one of the best solutions is to stay in control with your eating. If you need guidance to do so after the holidays, find a program that incorporates lifestyle changes. The Mental Detox program is what you might be looking for.

And don't get hooked to a fad diet. You will achieve the best lasting results through lifestyle changes in nutrition and exercise that you stay committed to, even during the holiday season.

Make it work for you. Find solutions that will work for you to not gain the weight over this holiday season.

Stefan Aschan is the owner and founder of www.strength123.com, providing nutrition and exercise programs in New York City.