Too Much Turkey? Holiday Season Weight Loss Tips

November 20, 2012


The National Institutes of Health estimates that during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, Americans gain an average of 1 to 1.4lbs. In just 40 days, Americans will gain 51% of their typical annual weight gain. Over a decade, this “holiday weight gain” can lead to a steady increase of 15-20lbs of fat. Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually lose weight during this season? Every year, I am inevitably asked the same question.  “How can I avoid gaining weight through the holidays?” Below, you’ll find a few of my favorite Thanksgiving and holiday season weight loss tips.

Tip #1: Enjoy the day! There are approximately five holiDAYS during the season: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. There’s no use in depriving yourself of family traditions, fried turkeys, eggnog, and gingerbread men. There’s no need to change recipes in order to cut out the calories and the accompanying taste. In fact, dig right in! Enjoy the holiday, enjoy the DAY! The key is that it’s only one day. You must make sure that you are not enjoying those treats every day. Make the holiDAY special, allowing yourself to indulge, but be sure that on the days between holidays, you are not overindulging. If you have five indulgent, no-guilt-added days, and 35 or more healthy eating days between them, your body will thank you and respond appropriately, by maintaining, or even losing, weight!

Tip #2: Get out and exercise! One of my favorite traditions on Thanksgiving morning is to get in a great workout before the holiday feast. I usually participate in a Turkey Trot 10k, or just simply do a workout at home. Recently, I’ve created the tradition of posting a free workout video on my website and Facebook page (  Not only does one bout of exercise burn calories while you are exercising, but it also increases your metabolism (the rate your body burns calories for fuel) for up to 24 hours post-workout! So, if you plan to indulge on your holiDAY, exercise beforehand to increase the number of calories the body burns all day, even after exercising.

Tip #3: Brush your teeth a lot! If you have that clean, fresh feeling in your mouth, you may find yourself less likely to snack, go back for thirds, or have that extra cookie. If you can sneak away and brush your teeth often during the holiDAY, you may just find yourself consuming fewer unconscious calories. So, brush early and brush often!

*If you’re looking for a way to get active with a pre-turkey workout, join me on Thanksgiving morning at 8:15am for a free bodyweight bootcamp workout at the Riverwalk! We will be collecting canned foods and children’s toys to donate to local charities.  Details at

Abby Malmstrom, M.S. is an exercise physiologist and the owner of Live For It All.

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