Taking Off Those Holiday Pounds
by Amy Scholten, MPH
The holidays have come and gone. Life is back to normal. Except, of course, for those extra pounds! Have no fear. You can reach and maintain a healthy weight. Here are some tips.
Keep These Tips in Mind
Find a Good Time to Start
Losing weight is a challenge. It needs careful planning, just like other major life changes. The first step is to make a plan that fits your life. Do not try to lose weight when you have too many things going on at work and in your family. Instead, pick a quiet time in your life. Start slowly to see how your plan goes. You can make changes as you need to.
Check With Your Doctor If You Have Any Medical Problems
You want to be sure your eating and exercise plans do not cause any problems with your health. This is especially important if you have diabetes. With diabetes, losing weight may change your insulin and medicine needs.
Choose Physical Activities
Walk, join a gym, or buy workout DVDs. The main thing is you need to move your body! Changing your diet is not enough. Regular physical activity will help you lose weight and keep it off. Staying physically active is good for you in other ways too. It can help you feel better about yourself. It will also help your heart and blood vessels to work better. If you have a hard time getting started, bring a friend to work out with you. It may also be easier to join a class where other people can keep you on track.
Consider Your Approach
Losing weight too fast is not healthy or lasting. Choose a plan that lets you lose about 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Calories are how much energy is in food and drinks. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Do this instead of eating 3 large meals. Eat healthy snacks rather than go hungry between meals. Consider talking to a dietitian about food choices, portions, and meal planning.
Do Not Forget Fluids
Drink plenty of water each day. Water has no calories, fills you up, and prevents dehydration. Flavor your water with fresh lemon or lime.
Keep Track of Your Progress
You may feel afraid to step on the scale as you go along. Your weight may go up and down a little. This can happen for many reasons. It is not always accurate. You may want to use the scale every few weeks. There are other ways to track your progress. Try on a tight fitting pair of pants. As the pants get looser, you will feel more motivated. You can also use a measuring tape to measure your waist, hips, or other body part. Chart your progress every 1 to 2 weeks.
Do Not Punish Yourself
You may be doing well but then eat a donut at the work meeting. Or, maybe you have a high calorie meal while out with friends. It is important to forgive yourself during these times. Do not use it as an excuse to eat poorly for the rest of the day or week. Go back on your plan.
Ask your partner, friends, coworkers, or children for support. Ask them to encourage you and help you reach your goals. A dietitian or counselor can also be helpful.
When you reach a goal, do something nice for yourself. For example, you could get a massage or a new pair of shoes. Break your weight goal down. Set weekly or monthly goals. Reward yourself as you meet each one. This will help keep you going.
Keeping the Weight Off
Losing the weight is your first challenge. Keeping it off is the next. Here are some tips to help you maintain your new body:
Break It Into Small Periods of Time
Set a goal to maintain your new weight. Start with a small period of time. Commit to keeping your weight the same for 1 year. Then move on to the next year.
Create New Habits
Create new habits by preparing ahead of time. If your goal is to eat breakfast every day, set your place at the table the night before. The same goes for trips to the gym. Prepare everything you need the night before. This will save you time and effort the next morning. It may also help you to follow-through with it.
Many processed foods are full of salt and sugar. Adding more can disrupt your progress. If you add salt and sugar to your food, slowly cut back until you stop. You will get used to this quickly. Learn to read food labels and look for hidden sugars, salt (sodium), and fats.
Enjoy Your Food
Strict weight loss diets do not work for long. Food should be enjoyable. Keep a list of healthful foods that you like. Treat yourself to these foods instead of less healthful foods. Be sure to remember correct portions.
Check Your Weight
You want to be sure you are not starting to gain the weight back. Weigh yourself once a month. Try on a pair of pants that fit after you lost the weight. Measure your waist, hips, and thighs. If you have put on 1 to 3 pounds, be extra careful with your diet for a few days. If you gain more than 4 pounds, however, return to your weight loss plan. It may be helpful to write down everything you eat. This can help you see where the extra calories are coming from.
Say positive things to yourself. Try some relaxation methods to help prevent overeating. Focus on your successes. Imagine how you want to look and feel. You can do it!
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Losing weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Accessed June 11, 2021.
Overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Accessed June 11, 2021.
Physical activity for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/physical-activity-for-weight-loss-18. Accessed June 11, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 6/11/2021
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