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Watching your waist during the holidays can be challenging

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Many people gain 1-5 pounds each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That may not seem too bad, but the long-term problem is that most people who gain weight during the holidays never manage to return to their pre-holiday weight in the new year. Year after year, this adds up.
Research has shown (and I’m sure that many of you know from personal experience) this can be a difficult time to try to lose weight. So this year, instead of focusing on weight loss, set a goal of staying at the weight you are right now.
The Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge can help you. This is the sixth year for this online program. In 2011, more than 3,000 people from 95 North Carolina counties took part in the challenge. At the end of the program, 89 percent reported maintaining their weight. This holiday season, add to the success by joining the Holiday Challenge.
This free challenge is completely online and provides participants with tips, tricks and ideas to help them maintain their weight throughout the holiday season. Sign up at www.MyEatSmartMoveMore.com. Only an email address is needed to join. All participant information is kept confidential.
Each week, participants will receive an email newsletter containing tips to manage holiday stress, ideas for fitting in physical activity during the busy season and resources for cooking quick and easy meals when time is in short supply. There are also practical tips, recipes and strategies to help you successfully avoid pitfalls leading to holiday weight gain.
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.
A calorie counter, food log and activity log are also available for download to help people track their progress.
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.
Here’s a tip from the Holiday Challenge program that may help get you through a those family gatherings that often come with a filling meal and a side of stress:
Be upfront about your health goals. Relatives sometimes have a way of making you feel like you should be stuffing yourself at each meal.
Explain to the big-portion pushers that you want to savor each delicious bite and not overdo it this season. Loading your plate with a second serving of stuffing will not help you reach your health goals, but some relatives won’t let you off the hook. Sometimes it’s not worth a fight. If all else fails, take a deep breath, let your aunt put that extra potato on your plate, and feed it to Fido when she’s not looking. Another thought…tell her it’s so good you’d like to take the second portion home to enjoy tomorrow. Then you can decide if it fits into your healthy diet the next day (or throw it away).
Get off on the right foot. Sign up today for the Holiday Challenge and encourage your family and friends to do it, too.
Locally, 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.
The Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge is a part of the Eat Smart, Move More N.C. 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.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.