Post-Holiday Gain? 4 Ways to Recover

How to get back to your healthy habits after the holidays. Painlessly.
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"By adding just 500 calories per day, or three homemade sugar cookies and a glass of low-fat milk, you could gain two pounds in two weeks over the holidays," says Jenna Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, LD, a board certified specialist in sports dietetics.

Now the merriment has ended, here's how to get back on track to healthier habits in the New Year.

Don't get discouraged by weight gain
Even if you overdid it, it won't destroy your health goals. In fact, you may unconsciously reduce your intake as the holiday season winds down. "When you don't realize you're eating all those cookies, that's automatic eating," says Wendy Wood, Ph. D., professor of psychology at Duke University. But when those cocktail party invitations stop coming, so do the temptations.

Up your fruit and vegetable intake
Ideally, you should consume at least five fruit and vegetable servings per day now. These vitamin-rich foods boost your fiber and antioxidant intake and help you feel full. A tip: Replace that midafternoon 16-oz. cola (200 calories) with an orange (65 calories) as a nutritious snack.

Pre-arrange exercise time
You'll stick to a regimen if you schedule exercise ahead, says Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., associate professor of sport and exercise psychology at Oregon State University. Try to get in 30 minutes almost every day. Wear a low-cost pedometer (it counts footsteps) or sign up for a charity walk/run to stick to a plan.

Resist depriving yourself
Focus on what you're going to eat rather than what you're not. "It sounds indulgent," says Colleen Thompson, R.D., a nutritionist at the University of Connecticut. "But concentrate on ways to feed yourself now. It helps you to stick to healthy eating habits." For example, don't skip a nutritious, fiber-rich breakfast, like oatmeal or a half of a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter. It can help prevent overeating later.

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