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Take the Holiday Challenge for zero weight gain

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By Cheryle Syracuse

The holidays will be here before we know it. That means it’s time for the 2013 Holiday Challenge! The Holiday Challenge runs from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve and promotes weight maintenance through the busy holiday season.
Americans tend to gain between 1 and 5 pounds during the holidays. While this doesn’t seem like much, the problem is that most don’t lose those extra pounds in the new year. Over time, that extra weight adds up. The goal of the Holiday Challenge is zero weight gain.
Instead of piling on the pounds, North Carolinians are invited to join the eighth annual Eat Smart, Move More … Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge. Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, this free six-week challenge provides participants with tips, tricks and ideas to help maintain your weight throughout the holiday season. The challenge will begin Nov. 25 and run through Dec. 31.
You don’t have to go anywhere for a meeting or get weighed by anyone to do this program. The Holiday Challenge is online. It’s also free. If you sign up early and complete the pre-survey questions, you’ll receive bonus healthy holiday recipes.
Go to www.ESMMWeighLess.com and click on the Holiday Challenge tab, and then click “sign up today.” Enter your email address. All personal information and addresses will be kept confidential. You will be emailed six free weekly newsletters with tips to help you manage holiday stress, fit physical activity into your day, and cook quick and healthy meals.
Once you join, you will also have access to a calorie counter, a food log, and an activity log to track your progress.
The Holiday Challenge is open to everyone — those with a few pounds to lose, those who have already lost weight and are looking to keep it off and those already at a healthy weight and just want to stay there.
Participants can connect with fellow challenge takers to gain extra support and encouragement on the Holiday Challenge blog and read how others like you are doing in the challenge. If you’re into Facebook, there is also an opportunity to post and share on the Holiday Challenge Facebook page.
Last year, more than 3,960 people from 40 different states and Canada took part in the challenge, and 72 percent were first-time participants. At the end of the program, 71 percent reported maintaining their weight. In addition, 20 percent reported losing 3 to 5 or more pounds.
The Eat Smart, Move More … Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge is a part of the Eat Smart, Move More NC movement to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities wherever North Carolinians live, learn, earn, play and pray. Find out more at www.EatSmartMoveMoreNC.com.
Have you tried pumpkin-flavored lattes at one of those fancy coffee stores? They seem to be the big thing this time of year. The amount of calories is amazing. The small size contains more than 300 calories and usually costs more than $4. Yikes! Larger sizes can top more than 470 calories (we’re talking just a cup of coffee here) and cost about $5. Double yikes!
Here’s a recipe idea that may help you save a few calories. Kelly Nordby, a program coordinator and instructor for the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program, developed a recipe for a lower fat, lower sugar, lower calorie and lower priced version.

Pumpkin Latte
8-oz. brewed pumpkin-flavored coffee
1/4 cup of 1 percent milk (save even more calories if you use skim milk)
1 pkg. Splenda (single serving size) or other no-calorie sweetener
Pumpkin pie spice (available in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
Brew a pot of pumpkin-flavored coffee. While brewing coffee, combine milk and sweetener in a microwave-safe mug and microwave for 30 seconds. Add brewed coffee to mug with milk to desired amount and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
This version has 26 calories. It could save you between 270 and 440 calories a cup.
N.C. Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County is a partner in this program. If you don’t have access to the Internet, contact the Brunswick County Extension Center and we’ll be glad to mail you some information on maintaining your weight during the holiday season. We also have a great list of recipe substitutions that help you “lighten up” your holiday baking and meals.

Cheryle Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.