With the holiday season upon us now mixed with all the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, staying healthy has never been more important. Everyone is doing their best to follow all the recommendations of staying healthy through a viral pandemic, but that also doesn’t negate the fact that we tend to bulk up during the time of copious amounts of food and drink.
As Americans, we tend to always go out all. We have meals packed with carbs, drizzled with gravy and topped with mouthwatering desserts. Who really doesn’t grow an extra pants size during the holidays? Most people tend to trudge through until the great weight loss month of January. But the truth is, you don’t have to wait. You can get through the holidays enjoying a few treats and still stay healthy.
However, to be completely honest here, weight doesn’t just affect your pants size, it also adds on extra stress if you are someone dealing with chronic pain. Additional weight absolutely affects chronic pain and may even bring about pain that was non-existent before. Let’s take a look at how weight affects chronic pain and then how we can avoid battling the bulge after the holidays.
How Does Weight Affect My Pain?
Studies have shown that as your BMI (body mass index) increases, so does the likelihood of reporting pain. If you are someone who is overweight or obese already, you are twice as likely to complain of back pain and suffer from fibromyalgia, abdominal pain and chronic headaches. Your level of chronic pain is definitely linked to the extra weight that you carry around.
You might be wondering, why does weight make such a big difference to the amount of pain I am suffering from? The top reason why weight is making a huge difference in your pain level is your inability to exercise or exercise appropriately. When your body is sedentary, it does nothing to help control pain. In turn, you are flung into a vicious cycle of pain preventing you from exercising and the excessive weight constantly being the source of your chronic pain.
Besides exercise, another reason weight can affect pain is due to the stress it can place on your joints. Obesity can intensify arthritis and compress your spine that will narrow disk spaces, thus increasing lower back pain.
Additionally, the shear psychological stress of being overweight or obese can be enough to for you to perceive more pain than what your body might actually be experiencing. Research has even shown the potential for fat tissue itself to produce chemicals that could increase your feeling of pain.
How Can I Overcome This Situation?
If you are struggling with obesity and chronic pain, there is hope. While everyone knows that losing weight and exercising can be a daunting task, you have the opportunity right now to not make your situation even worse. Especially with the holidays season being fully of fatty foods, you can defeat the piling on of extra pounds.
On average, you can expect to pack on an extra 7-10 pounds during this holiday season, that is if you do nothing to prevent it. You can wait until January to lick your battle wounds and join others at the gym suffering through the same fate. Or, you can choose to be vigilant this year and work on reducing pain and weight at the same time. Here’s how:
1. Choose Your Battle Wisely
It really all comes down to choice during the holidays. Which battles are you willing to fight in order to stay healthy and perhaps shed a few pounds at the same time. Are you willing to meal prep, keep a journal of your food, get a gym membership, or keep track of your steps? All of these little tasks can add up to making big changes and winning the battle you so desperately want to win.
Remember, it’s ok to have a sweet treat or a heavy meal, but how do you plan to keep it scheduled and limited? Do you have an app like MyFitnessPal to track your caloric intake? By using these tools, you can begin to create great habits that will make your journey that much easier.
2. If You Wouldn’t Eat An Apple
Many people struggle with understanding their hunger cues. You might think you are hungry, especially when you are indeed thirsty or just bored. All you have to do to find out if you truly are hungry is ask yourself one question: am I hungry enough to eat an apple?
If you are indeed hungry enough to eat an apple, then go eat an apple. How do you feel afterwards? If not, then you likely need to get hydrated. Drink a glass of water and listen to your body. Oftentimes, hunger can be mistaken for thirst and we eat when we should actually be drinking water. Regardless, you need to make sure you keep up on water intake daily.
3. Limit the Alcohol
No one likes to be a party pooper or a buzzkill, but alcohol comes with a costly amount of empty calories. Even so, the more you drink the more you also tend to make poor decisions. Yes, we’re talking about those midnight trips to Taco Bell. Instead of trying to go cold turkey, this is another opportunity to plan it out. Pick which holiday or event you will indulge in and which one you will pass it by. Just don’t forget your designated driver!
4. Exercise: Make a Plan You’ll Actually Do!
When it comes to the exercise portion of your health plan, it is easy to give up on a program if it doesn’t fit your style. Forget about the infomercials or the latest craze, you need to find an activity that you enjoy and want to do. Believe it or not, exercising can be fun. If you like swimming, try an aquatics class. Interested in weight lifting? Join a gym and try a personal trainer. If all you can do is go for a walk, then just get started. Whatever choice you make, it should be something you are willing and able to do.
5. Stay Positive
If exercising, eating right and losing weight was easy, everyone would be skinny and no one would complain. The truth of the matter is that it takes some energy and commitment to stay on track. It also takes a sense of positivity. It can take weeks to become consistent at losing or maintaining your weight, but all the effort will improve your overall health and attitude.
In the end, just maintaining weight during the holidays can be a test of will power. You will go crazy if you say no to everything, so make sure you are giving yourself a little bit of a break, but also keep yourself in check. Keeping track of your food and exercise will definitely give you some great insight and eating an apple before making a bad decision might keep you on the road to a different New Year’s Resolution.
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