THERE AREN’T ANY SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS TO EXPLORE TODAY, BUT JUST ONE WITH straightforward discussion about something many of us fear will occur at the end of December. Dietitian Cynthia Sass sorts out the facts and the myths about weight gain resulting from holiday fun and the abundance of treats at this time of the year in an article for SHAPE.com..
It’s not all bad news, so don’t be afraid to open the link and start reading. Sass starts by telling us the average amount of weight gain isn’t as much as many fear. She follows up by explaining the difference between bloating and weight gain. The harder facts come next.
Sprinkled in is advice on how to ward off an undesirable weight increase. Preview (you’ll need to read her article for SHAPE.com to get complete advice): drink water and ‘budget’ carbs.
The myth that seems capable of causing the most harm is the one about dropping bonus pounds in January. Sass performs a service to all delusional partiers who imagine that extra weight added at the end of the year can be easily shed at the beginning of the new year. Not so, says this RD.
What I take from Sass’s article, backed up by my own personal experience and that of loved ones, is that it’s best not to allow that 1 or 2 extra holidays pounds to hop onboard at all. The numbers are low and don’t shock us into taking dramatic action once we notice them on the scale or at the time of zipping-up a favorite pair of jeans. We allow them to hang on until the added bulk no longer registers as being a new development. The next time we shop for clothes we might opt for a slightly larger size or go for a cut that is better at hiding chunkiness.
A third strategy might be, when possible, to carry small weights to represent what even a small amount of gain will do to our physical feeling of health.
This past summer I purchased a weighted vest to help with walk training. The vest itself weighed 2 pounds. The small iron weights that could be added to compartments on the vest each weighed 3 pounds. In total, 6 weights could be added to create a 20-pound vest.
To avoid injury, my summer weighted walking program started with just the vest. Then one weight was to be added each week. To provide balance, the extra weight was first added to a pocket on the back of the vest and then one on the front. At full weight, there would be 3 on the front and the same number on the back.
For the past year I had been telling myself that the 6 pounds I picked up from not being able to run wasn’t that much. Even walking had been quite difficult with the knee/calf problem. Training had ceased, which included adherence to both physical exercise and nutrition programs. To have gained only six to seven pounds didn’t seem so very unhealthy.
My perception changed as soon as I started weighted vest training. I was amazed at how sluggish I felt with just the 2 pounds of vest on. Adding each 3-pound weight was a chore to manage. Toward the end of the 5th week I moved one of the front chest weights to the back. It was more difficult to carry pounds on the front, than on the back. I was feeling fatigued in the later afternoons, so walk distances were shortened and more gradually lengthened over more days. My feet developed pre-blisters from walking with the full 20 pounds; a bit of attention prevented actual blisters.
Adaptation to the last two 3-pound weights each required 2 weeks. Afterward I experimented with just wearing it at home while sitting and working on a laptop. It did not seem easier.
Although the process consumed roughly 8 weeks over the summer, nearly instantly I appreciated the burden that a mere 2-3 pounds added to my body. I felt ill, out of sorts wearing it. The effect was greatest with frontal weight. Of course, we don’t distribute weight gain in this artificial fashion, but the vest weight additions were close enough to reality to be a bit frightening.
It was wonderful to shed the weighted vest at the end of a training session. The real extra body weight hasn’t been as easy to lose, but it is slowly coming down. Every single pound that comes off relieves part of the burden, I now understand!
I am determined not to pick up ONE EXTRA POUND on this holiday! This dietitian’s article is a great reminder to take action. Per the advice Sass provides, I will not plan to take weight gained now off in January; I will plan and work hard to not gain it, while fully enjoying the season.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: I wear the weighted vest 1-2 times a week during walk training sessions, but at 17 pounds, not 20. After going through the progressive weight build-up I don't wish to go through the process again. Carrying weight at a steady level is comfortable for walking. The weight level selection is based on the method employed in a scientific study in which participants were women my age wore vests weighted at 10% of body weight.
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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