The holiday season is here. This means that many of us will be with families and eating homemade pies and cakes. At work, there will be streams of goodies and sweets seemingly surrounding us. Planning for and attending various holiday functions, we will unconsciously nosh, nibble and imbibe to our hearts content. All of this means that we will be making those New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the New Year. Typically, weight loss is at the top of the list.
However, we need not wait until the results of our holiday activities shock us into more healthy habits. In fact, there are things that we can begin to do right now that will minimize the amount of (unwanted) weight that we accumulate due to the holiday season excess. Specifically, by drinking more water, sleeping more, being more active, eating more fiber and monitoring portion size, we can keep weight gain to a minimum.
When looking to minimize weight gain during the holiday season, one need look no further than though the bottom of their glass; that is to say, drink more water. Water is the liquid that sustains all life on earth. Water also has ‘0’ calories. But more than that, one can actually burn calories due to water consumption. Specifically, men burn more fat while women break down more carbohydrates due to water consumption. So, to hedge your bets against that holiday weight gain, drink more water.
Recommendation: Ideally, 1.5 liters of water per day or 2 (8 Ounce) cups of water before each meal.
According to researchers, adequate sleep can be instrumental to obtaining positive results from dieting and exercising endeavors. Adequate sleep allows for the activation of Human Growth Hormone: this hormone is responsible for “functions in the body such as vitality, energy and weight maintenance“. In addition, adequate sleep brings about a near 50%:50% muscle mass loss to body fat loss. Inadequate sleep can cause five times more muscle mass loss than body fat loss (5:1 ratio). Minimal sleep can stimulate higher levels of consumption because hormone levels, that stimulate hunger, food intake and retention of body fat, increase. One cannot sleep themselves thin but one can insure that caloric accumulation is kept to a minimum with adequate sleep.
Recommendation: Get more than 6.5 – 7.0 hours of sleep.
Walk More/Be Active
To maintain (current) weight and avoid the effects of holiday binging, the importance of physical activity cannot be overlooked. The amount of physical activity can positively affect the efforts to maintain weight. Balancing Calories In vs. Calories Out will yield Weight Control/Weight Maintenance. 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended to maintain weight. If this proves difficult, however, there are options such as parking farther away from the entryway door and walking, taking the stairs, doing little chores around the home and the like. Every little bit helps. Increased physical activity will also help people to improve conditions of:
Heart disease and stroke
High blood pressure
Depression and anxiety
Recommendation: Try to accumulate 30 minutes of mild to moderate activity per day or try to stand up and stretch a couple of times every hour.
Generally, studies indicate that increased fiber intake correlates to better weight control. Fiber is an important constituent of food that assist with the passage of food through the colon. Fiber supplementation, along with adequate water consumption, can be part of a balanced diet. However, if a person needs to see and consume an amount of food that makes them feel full, then eating fiber dense foods will be instrumental in their consuming less. Fiber may not help with calories that are consumed from high-caloric beverages: consider that the average American’s recent, increased calorie consumption has come from increased consumption of high-calorie drinks.
Recommendation: Accumulate more fiber from food sources; drink more water.
One of the best ways to minimize weight gain is through portion control. Many people often eat what is in front of them and most underestimate the amount (of calories) that they consume on a day to day basis by as much as 25%. In order to affect portion control, one must direct their efforts toward assessing, monitoring and regulating the portion sizes of foods that they consume. If you are at a restaurant, eat half of your order and take the remainder home, if possible. If you are at home, eat a smaller than normal portion and wait a bit before going for seconds. If the feeling a fullness is there, you just may not want to go for seconds.
Recommendation: Make a strong effort and adhere to consuming smaller portions and waiting to see if satiety sets in or eat smaller portions throughout the day.
These steps are presented as a way to help in minimizing the weight gain that typically occurs during the holiday season. By adding these steps to your daily routine throughout the holiday season, you can be in control of what transpires with your weight. Of course, if you are exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet, then these steps will easily help you in maintaining your weight.
Drinking water will assist in caloric expenditure. Sleeping more will help the body to burn more fat. Being more active will help to burn the calories that you consume. Consuming more fiber will keep the colon clear. Portion control will allow you to regulate how much you are actually consuming.
I have assembled a Percentage (%) of Effort Chart below to give you an idea of how these activities will contribute to your minimizing that dreaded holiday weight gain. The items are the five points outlined in this blog: i.e. water, sleep, activity, fiber and portions. The more days that you do these things, the better your results will be. 100% of effort will yield better results than 20% of effort.
The changing of the seasons is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the heavens. In temperate climates, there are the seasonal rains that come and wash the earth during spring and autumn. The rains are a sort of announcement, a prelude, to the ensuing summer and winter seasons, respectively. It also during these times that some individuals commit themselves to seasonal cleanses and detoxes. Cleanse is short for Colon Cleansing. Detox is short for Detoxification Diet. In addition to setting the stage for enjoying a more vibrant life, cleanses and detoxes engender a higher degree of psycho-energetic sensitivity. People then can be more in tune to the seasonal vibrations.
Cleanses and Detoxes can be very beneficial to the body. They allow the body to slow down and recuperate from the abuse that results from overindulgence in nutritionally devoid foods, overindulgence in improper drinks (alcohol, soda pop, etc.), exposure to chemically laden foods, and lack of dietary fiber. “Despite all of our best efforts, we may not be able to prevent toxic substances from entering our body and affecting our well-being. Pollution, packaged foods, caffeine, smoking, drinking, and etc, over a period of time can, impair our immune function and affect our health”.
To the individual who initiates and undergoes the process, the benefits of improved digestion, greater energy and immunity, and a slimmer, more vibrant appearance can be the result. Honestly though, cleanses and detoxes are only, can only be, a part of a true effort to live a more healthy lifestyle. It has been said that many people care more about their cars than they do their bodies. Given the recent statistics concerning health in the U.S.A., that statement seems to be ‘Dead On Point’. However, it does not have to be. If they are undertaken with caution and awareness of what one’s body is ready for, cleanses and detoxes can be a part of the initiative to reverse the trend of ill-health.
Lately, attention has been focused on cleanses and detoxes as a way to lose weight. This method of weight loss is totally counterproductive to a ‘healthy lifestyle’. Cleansing and Detoxing can most certainly result in weight loss. However, because of the intense and drastic manner in which it occurs, the weight loss is usually short-lived. Remember, the reason for the cleanse is to purge the colon of catarrh and built up waste material while the detox helps in purging impurities and toxins from the body. Lifestyle is what will really enable people to maintain a ‘healthy weight’. Cleanses and Detoxes can really only be a compliment to a healthy lifestyle. They can only be a means to an end as opposed to an end unto themselves.
For me, spring and autumn are optimal times for this. It is a chance for me to cleanse my body and be in communion with the Source of All Creating/Sustaining/Dissolving (my concept of GOD). I use cleanses and detoxes to prepare for deeper meditation and other physical/spiritual practices in lieu of bringing in more of the new seasonal energies. On a personal note, I have been blessed to see 52 years of age and, as of last year’s (2011) check up, I had no polyps in my colon. I think that my observing a healthy lifestyle has helped. However, I think that my spiritual practices, to include the recent addition of cleanses and detoxes, since 2009, have enabled and will allow me to maintain much of my health, vitality and positive outlook.
Fiber is found in all plant-based foods and plays an essential role in human health. A diet rich in high fiber foods can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lower the risk of several forms of cancer, improve cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as regulate digestion. There are 2 types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber pulls in water to form a gel in the digestive tract. This slows digestion, so that our stomachs and intestine don’t absorb as much of some nutrients, like starch and sugar. Consuming soluble fiber can also improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes. Oatmeal, barley, mushrooms, and quinoa are examples of soluble fiber.
In general, if a plant food is rough with a tough skin, has a peel, pod or seeds, it is a type of insoluble fiber. Some examples of insoluble fibers are beans, grapes, green leafy vegetables, pineapple, and apples. It acts as a natural laxative that speeds the passage of foods through the stomach. It also gives bulk to stool and helps it to move quickly through the gastrointestinal tract.
High fiber diets may be useful for people who want to lose weight: it contains no calories and it slows down our rate of digestion. Fiber also makes us feel satiated sooner and for longer periods of time. We can utilize these characteristics of fiber to assist us in meeting our weight loss goals.
Getting more fiber in our diets can improve our health and quality of life. Most Americans don’t get anywhere near the amount of fiber, 25 – 38 grams per day recommended in their daily diet. This explains the increasing numbers of gastrointestinal diseases, diverticulitis, constipation, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
Look for the “dietary fiber” content on food labels. Good sources of fiber have at least 10% of the “percent daily value” of fiber.
TIPS TO ADDING MORE FIBER TO YOUR DIET
1. Try to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
2. Eat oatmeal, bran, or another whole grain cereal for breakfast.
3. Look for breads, cereals, and crackers that list a whole grain first on the label.
4. Add fiber to your diet slowly, otherwise you may feel bloated or have gas pains.
5. Drink 8 cups of water and other fluids a day to keep things moving smoothly through your intestines.