Tis’ the season of family gatherings, office parties and quick bites at fast food restaurants in between shopping—and that means heavy meals, cookies, cakes, and food on the run. The American Heart Association notes that the average person can gain up to five pounds during this busy and often stressful time and is urging you to maintain your weight this holiday season. With an estimated 70% of Americans as overweight or obese, it’s crucial to manage the scale during this time of year.
Although weight management can be a sensitive subject, studies show that extra weight can put you at higher risk for health problems including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So this year, the American Heart Association is challenging you to simply maintain your current weight instead of falling prey to temptations that can put the pounds on.
Here are some simple tips on how you can take the MAINTAIN—DON’T GAIN Challenge:
1. Be aware: Often, we don’t realize how often or how much we are eating. Keep a journal of everything eat throughout the day and you’ll be surprise on how quickly those ‘little bites’ add up!
2. Set Your Limits: In addition to knowing what you are eating, make a promise to yourself that you’ll limit sweets and alcohol to one serving or less daily. Knowing that you won’t deprive yourself of Auntie Anna’s peach pie or a little eggnog will help you to not overindulge later.
3. Take a Walk: And that means walk away from the holiday buffet after your first serving as well as taking a walk every day to get in some physical exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 60 minutes a day of physical activity to help improve your heart health. Need ideas on how to fit it in? Park in the furthest spot and take a lap around the store before you start your holiday shopping.
4. Make it a family affair: Urge your family to join you in the challenge and plan family activities that incorporate physical activity like walking around your neighborhood to look at decorations or a fun game of football.
5. Make it a community effort: Contact the leaders in your community to let them know what changes you would like to see to help your community get healthier. Whether it’s increasing access to healthy, affordable food or more safe places for your family to engage in physical activity, the key to making the healthy choice the easy choice lies in changing the environment in our communities.
Remember, even the smallest decision can help you in the battle of the bulge this holiday season. Choose baked over fried, take the stairs instead of the escalator and substitute water for carbonated beverages. For more information on how you can fight obesity, visit heart.org.
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