Preventing Holiday Weight Gain! You can do it!
3 mistakes and 3 solutions
Last week I wrote about staying healthy during Rosh Hashanah. Those tips apply to all holiday, high, low, Jewish or not. The tips I gave you last week will certainly help, but we all know that it can be hard to control our circumstances, especially when eating out or traveling. I was away for Rosh Hashanah and not cooking my own food. I did the best I could, but I could have done better. Of course it was a good learning experience for the future.
The truth is, I didn’t gain weight over yuntov (that’s yiddush for holidays). However, I didn’t feel good about how I ate. I talked to the chef ahead of time to discuss providing vegan options for me, but I didn’t really know what I was going to get for each meal. Turns out there was something for me to eat at each meal, but many times it was just a few vegetables.
Here are the common mistakes I made and you may be making too:
1. Because I didn’t know what or how much I would have to eat at the next meal, and I often had few choices, I ate too much of what I could eat. I was in a feast or famine mode. I had snacks in my room so I really didn’t need to have that attitude. This is a reminder that much of hunger and the desire to eat is mental, not physical. Focus on the abundance of what you can eat, not what you can’t eat. I was definitely focused on not having enough and consequently wanted more.
2. Dinners were served at their appropriate times, but those times were late at night. Because I hadn’t eaten much for about 7 hours at that point, I was hungry so I did need to eat and eating late makes me feel like crap – and isn’t good for anyone’s weight. If I’d been home, I could have eaten a proper dinner much earlier and simply had kiddush (blessing over wine) and motzi ablessing over bread) after shul (synagogue).
3. My other suggestions for late dinners is to eat soup and salad. I could have done that once or twice. However, because everyone else around me was eating a 6 course meal (and I had to wait for the 5th course to just get my plate of vegetables), I wanted to eat more than I needed or would probably want to if I were at home. Again, it’s all mental!
The following tips will help you maintain your weight and health in between festive moments.
1. HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training. You don’t have to exercise every day and you don’t have to exercise very long to see great results. Recent studies have shown that HIIT is much more efficient than exercising at a steady pace for a long period of time. One popular version is called the Tabata Method. In four minutes you can do 8 cycles of 1 exercise. Go as hard as you can (running, lifting weights, etc.) for 20 seconds and then recover for 10 seconds. I have some examples on my Pinterest page. You can pick four different exercises and do a full workout in 16 minutes. You only have to do this a few days per week. Certainly exercise as much as you can using this method. However, every cycle you complete will make a large impact on your fitness levels.
2. Intermittent Fasting is all the rage these days and for a reason. Again, there are various methods, but the easiest one is to fast for a period of time each day. Another option is to eat normally 5 days per week and then keep your calories to about 600 on two fasting days per week. The easiest method of intermittent fasting is what I try to do (and it works!). Keep your eating to only 6-10 hours per day. Most people would find it difficult to keep their eating to only 12 hours per day. I remember being in a cleanse workshop where everyone was unnerved at the suggestion of stopping all food intake each day at approximately 7pm – or whenever it would give us a full 12 hour rest from additional food. Time off from digesting new food allows your body to burn more of its fat stores. In addition, if you know you can eat without unreasonable restrictions when you do eat, it’s easier to stick to this regimen than trying to “diet” all the time.
Here are some examples for how you might progress to this. (You can also go cold turkey in between this year’s three day yuntovs! You’ll love the results!)
Step 1: Eat 7am to 7pm. Don’t eat 7pm to 7am. (12 hour fast. 12 hours eating.)
Step 2: Eat 8am to 6pm. Don’t eat 6pm to 8am. (14 hour fast. 10 hours eating.)
Step 3: Eat 8:30am to 5:30pm. Don’t eat from 5:30pm to 8:30am. (15 hour fast. 9 hours eating.)
Step 4: Eat 9am to 5pm. Don’t eat from 5pm to 9am (16 hour fast. 8 hours eating.)
If you want to go down to the minimum of 6 hours eating per day, more power to you. I can’t do that! But I can do the 9-5 method. However, I do have to tell you that after getting out of that routine for so many days during my recent travels, it has been hard to get back into. I’ve had to ease back into it, which surprised me.
3. Decide what the right recipe is for you and write it down: 3 workouts per week, plus 10 hours per day eating, minus animal products = a great plan to get you on the way to your health and fitness goals!