Staying in shape before the holidays

Turkey dinner, turkey dinner, Gather round, gather round, Who will get the drumstick, Yummy, yummy drumstick, All sit down, all sit down. Cornbread muffins, chestnut stuffing, Pudding pie, one foot high, All of us were thinner, Until we came to dinner, Me, oh, my! Me, oh, my!

If you are familiar with that tune, then you know exactly what is coming up next! The holidays bring about copious amounts of food and drink. You really can’t get through a holiday season without a face full of Grandma’s famous homemade stuffing and then feeling stuffed at some point. I mean, who can resist all that yummy goodness drizzled in gravy and topped with pumpkin pie? Yes, we’re all probably well aware of what comes next…the holiday consequences! I’m talking about those pesky holiday pounds that pack on and the regret that weighs us down even further come January. We do it to ourselves each year and rarely stop to question why the number one New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight and get in shape.

Let’s be completely honest here, the 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 weight affects pain

Studies have shown that as your BMI (body mass index) increases, so does the likelihood of reporting pain. People who are overweight or obese 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.

So why does weight make such a big difference to the amount of pain you are suffering from? One the biggest reasons is that you are less likely to be able to exercise appropriately or even move about. A sedentary body does not help reduce chronic pain. And, this in turn can become a vicious cycle as many people cite their weight as the reason they do not exercise.

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.

You can overcome it

The good news is that you can overcome the struggles of obesity linked to pain and vice versa. Losing weight and exercising can be a daunting task, especially if it coincides with chronic pain. With the holiday season in full swing, it is only a matter of time before millions of Americans pack more pounds on, but right now you have the opportunity to defeat piling on the extra weight.

It has been suggested that the average American will pack on 7-10 pounds during the holiday season and use January as a month to sulk in regret and resolution. Here are some tips to prevent those pounds and drop even more during the most wonderful time of the year.

Choose your battles wisely

It is a matter of choice during the holidays. By choosing your battles, I mean preparing for the meals you will want to indulge in and keeping a tight account on your food intake any other meal of the day or week. It is ok to have a sweet treat or a heavy meal, but keep it scheduled and limited. And most importantly, track your food! Keeping a journal or entering your food into an app like MyFitnessPal will definitely open your eyes to your eating and drinking habits. If you don’t track, you will forget and likely eat more than you thought you did. Get out your measuring cups and scales, it is time to get serious about your diet.

If you wouldn’t eat an apple

One of my favorite little tricks to keep my eating in check is to ask myself this question: am I hungry enough to eat an apple? If I am, then I go eat the apple and see how I feel afterwards. If I am not, then I do not eat anything and down some much needed water. 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.

Limit the alcohol

The holidays are an especially fun time to booze it up, but alcohol comes with a costly amount of empty calories. Not to mention that getting a little liquored up tends to lead to even more bad decisions. Again, the idea here is to indulge only at times. Pick just one party or just one holiday event to let loose, but maybe offer to be the designated driver for the all the other occasions.

An exercise plan you will actually do

No matter what the latest craze is for fitness, the only thing you need to know is that you must get active as often as possible. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive equipment. You can easily find free exercise videos on youtube that don’t require anything additional, or you can get out and just start walking. Whatever choice you make, it should be something you are willing and able to do.

Remain positive

Losing weight can definitely become exhausting and even depressing. The important thing to remember is if the scale doesn’t move much in the right direction, you are beginning to create better habits and healthier choices. It can takes 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 don’t go hog wild. 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.

Comments are closed.