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How to avoid the winter break weight gain

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Trying to avoid gaining weight over the winter break seems impossible. With all of the winter holidays coming up, there’s going to be a constant supply of meats, candies, desserts, carbs and any and all combinations of these goodies around even the most avid health nuts. Temptation is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that an expanding waistline has to be. According to Jennifer Nicole Lee, an expert at BodyBuilding.com, most people tend to gain between seven and 12 pounds during the holidays, which leads to that cliché goal of losing weight for a New Year’s resolution. Still, you can avoid having to make any weight-loss resolutions that, let’s be honest, aren’t going to last very long as long as you follow some simple advice.

First things first – give into temptation, but only to an extent. It sounds counter-intuitive when you’re trying to keep your weight down during the holidays, but depriving yourself of all of your cravings can backfire on you. Don’t keep yourself from giving into a piece of your grandma’s amazing pecan pie at Christmas dinner or your dad’s famous cheesecake when the family sits down for dinner together during Kwanzaa. Have some of your favorite dishes in moderation so you can avoid driving yourself crazy, since depriving yourself too much could lead to a binge.

Now, even though you should let yourself give into some of your cravings, it doesn’t mean that your entire holiday meal should consist of every unhealthy food that you can think of. For starters, try to only choose lean meats like turkey breast, bison sirloin, venison and chicken breast. This will make sure that you’re not overloading on too many fats and cholesterol. Also, try to fill your plate up with mostly vegetables. There are usually plenty of veggies at a family gathering, so take advantage of yummy choices like spinach, carrots, corn, yams, potatoes and any other veggies that are offered. When it comes to bread, try not to eat too many breads that aren’t comprised of whole grains and avoid slathering your bread with globs of fattening butter.

Along with the amazing food choices that the winter season brings, it also creates an opportunity to take part in tons of physical activities that aren’t really particular of other seasons. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding and even snowman making are all fun ways to stay in shape during the holidays, especially when you’d rather just watch television or it gets too cold to go for your usual jog outside. The goal is to just get up and move. Even helping out with chores can be a good way to stay fit, even if it’s not so enjoyable. Shoveling snow, snow blowing the driveway and chopping firewood are great calorie-burners and you can even get some chores out of the way at the same time.

The most important thing to remember is that you’re only human and enduring a cruelly challenging semester full of papers, projects and exams is a good enough reason to let yourself have a break from trying to stay as healthy as you can be. Don’t let trying to keep your weight down over the holidays hold you back from enjoying time with your family and friends or eating some of your favorite foods. The key to staying healthy is keeping everything in moderation and not letting any Christmas movie marathons keep you on the couch for the entire duration of the winter break.

Stephen Margelony-Lajoie can be reached at smargelo@student.umass.edu.

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