Planning To Gain Weight This Season? Is That Okay?

by tinareale on December 4, 2013

Holiday Workout Plan & Nutrition E-Book Now Available!

On Monday, I shared with you all 11 tips to help stick to your workouts during the holiday season. I’m thrilled to see that so many of you appreciated that post. Of course, workouts aren’t the only thing we need to consider when it comes to maintaining our health during this time of year. A few of you expressed that workouts aren’t ever the problem for you; it’s the FOOD. Oh, I feel you there. This mama has a sweet tooth that could rival anybody’s and I love me some holiday eats.

When thinking about the food side of things, I was reminded of a conversation I recently heard on the radio. The two hosts were discussing an article with the statistic that more than half of Americans say they expect to gain weight over the holidays. The hosts sounded so confused and almost annoyed. My immediate thought was, “What’s wrong with that?”.

After thinking about it a bit more, I can see the problem when it causes a mentality of “screw it” and a complete lack of balance for that period of a month or two. I can see how it’s a problem when it leads to a ten pound weight gain year after year with nothing done to reverse it. I can see how it can add to feelings of hopelessness. I can see it creating the “I’ll start tomorrow/Monday/next month/New Year’s Day” type of thinking that can put so many action steps towards better health on hold. And that is not something I would ever want to promote.

BUT the things is…what about those of us who know about health and wellness and who are already making steps to live a healthy lifestyle? I believe many of you reading this blog likely fit into that category, so to you I want to say that perhaps it’s okay and even, dare I say, GOOD to approach the holidays with an expectation to gain a couple of pounds. Could it really be okay?

holiday weight gain

I’m not suggesting you throw any semblance of healthy eating out the window. I’m saying you don’t have to analyze it so much to avoid seeing a small change on the scale.

I’m not suggesting you gorge yourself at every party you attend or every time you walk into the office break room filled with cookies. I’m saying pick things you truly enjoy, then enjoy them.

I’m not suggesting that workouts are more important than healthy eating. I’m saying that just as we adjust our expectations with our workouts, perhaps we also need to adjust our expectations with our diets.

I’m not suggesting you forget good habits and gain ten pounds this month. I’m saying you will probably be okay if 2-3 creep on over the month, because those few pounds will come off naturally for most people after returning to normal habits.

I’m not suggesting the holidays are all about the food. I’m saying that part of the way we socialize and commune together does relate to food – so don’t let worrying about food keep you from really living.

I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to try to eat healthy foods or continue working on positive changes in your regular diet, whether for health purposes or weight loss or whatever. I’m saying that it’s okay to indulge a little bit more than normal.

I believe in balance and moderation. I believe in making health a LIFESTYLE. And part of making health a lifestyle, whether through diet or fitness or any other decisions which impact it, is to approach it realistically. Again – this isn’t meant for everyone. For some, realistically is making small changes to get healthier now and not letting the holidays be an excuse. For others of us, including myself, realistically is letting go of the reigns a bit and remembering that our diets and workouts don’t have to be perfect in order to be healthy. 

So, do you think it’s okay for some people to plan for a bit of weight gain over the holidays? Or not ever a good thing to expect (unless needed for medical/personal reasons)? I would love to hear your thoughts!

{ 36 comments }

1 MizBeAWalker December 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

I think anything is ok when it is done from a place of moderation and SAVORING life/foods/fellowship etc.
Life is far too short already.

2 Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves December 4, 2013 at 7:30 am

I totally love this. I do think it’s okay for some people to gain a little weight over the holidays because it’s a sign that they probably enjoyed themselves and treated themselves to some treats that they don’t often have throughout the rest of the year. I also feel like “letting go” just the slightest bit will motivate people even more to go back to the normal routine. I know personally, I love the holidays and the indulgences, but then getting back on track is something that I WANT to do afterward.
Great post, Tina!

3 Coco (@Got2Run4Me) December 4, 2013 at 7:34 am

Great question. I think it’s unhelpful to “expect” weight gain, because then you convince yourself that its inevitable and may get sucked into a downward spiral of overdoing it “just because,” even when you’re not enjoying all the indulgences. On the other hand, I don’t think people should spend the holidays fretting over every calorie. The past few years I have decided not to worry about it, but I have been selective (yes to home-baked cookies, no to store-bought ones, yes to peppermint bark for breakfast on Christmas morning) and have pretty much maintained my weight.

4 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:45 am

I like how you worded it. “Expect” might not be the best word, but maybe “accept” that a couple of pounds may happen and not let it define your holidays. I’m with you that worrying about it less seems to make it easier to keep things balanced.

5 Presley @ Run Pretty December 4, 2013 at 8:04 am

I love you for this. I mean, sometimes my weight literally varies by 2-4 lbs A DAY. Weight ebbs and flows. It’s not static! It is constantly changing, and that’s okay. :)

6 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

I hope I gain a few… and I hope it goes to my butt. Or my legs. Lift and eat, lift and eat. ;)

7 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:45 am

Ha, yes! I had you in mind when I put that some people want to for personal reasons. Those building goals are important, too. :)

8 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast December 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

I think so much of it comes back to being kinder to ourselves, and dropping restrictive behavior (at all times of the year). If that means a pound or two come on, yes, that’s okay! It’s healthier to live in a sustainable lifestyle that we enjoy with an extra few pounds than to be constantly battling that final 5 pounds, as some women do for years and years.

9 Beckett @ Birchwood Pie December 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

Oh my goodness, yes it’s OK to enjoy the treats now and deal with the consequences (if any) later. Great post.

10 Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans December 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

I think being able to accept weight gain is fine! I agree – I don’t think it’s about throwing out all your healthy eating habits and going nuts. But you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to enjoy a few things! Why stress out about getting in your workouts when perhaps you only get to see your family for a few weeks?

11 Tamara December 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

I think we should worry less about the consequences of indulging ourselves with unhealthy foods and more about the reasons we equate celebration and feeling good with sugar and fat!

Sure, food is part of holiday traditions, but it shouldn’t be used as an emotional crutch.

Sharing this post as it’s great ‘food for thought’!

12 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:48 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tamara. I always love to hear them. And I agree about not needing to revolve our holiday season around food. I guess that is why I feel going in with an acceptance of there may be a bit more indulgence than normal helps take the focus OFF food.

13 Leetra@RunningMyLife December 4, 2013 at 10:50 am

That’s probably an emotionally healthy way to look at it… Better to accept things than to stress over them, but I’m not sure it’s great for our bodies to gain and lose and gain and lose. I personally don’t want to plan on gaining over the holidays but I wouldn’t judge someone who does. I did hear a study saying people on average keep 2 lbs of their holiday weight gain each year which adds up over a life time. It’s just something to think about.

14 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:52 am

Thanks for commenting, Leetra. I love hearing various opinions. I guess my perspective was on just maybe 1-3 pounds of a more natural fluctuating weight change and less of an up/down yoyo’ing with the weight. Basically a more natural fluctuation from giving ourselves a little more wiggle room that should come off relatively easily when returning to our normal healthy habits. If it’s something that sticks around because it’s more than a couple of pounds, then I agree that it can add up over time and that is not good. Each person would have to know what is the right balance and acceptance of a bit more indulgence that their body can handle without longer lasting effects.

15 Leetra@RunningMyLife December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

Second thought: holidays or not, I probably gain or lose that much all the time :) . No big deal. I also pretty much stay off the scales so unless my clothes fit differently I don’t plan on even knowing about it (keeps me from stressing it).

16 tinareale December 6, 2013 at 6:47 am

What a great reminder about the fact how normal that fluctuation is at all times of the year. I’m big on clothes fit, too. And a few pounds here or there usually doesn’t change TOO much about how my clothes fit. Thanks for visiting again, Leetra! Love to hear from you. :)

17 Lisa December 4, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I don’t expect to LOSE weight from October -January. I just know I won’t. I try not to gain weight but sometimes a few pounds pop up…

18 Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's December 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

There is SO MUCH PRESSURE on people to make the holidays all about healthy eating, and I think that some people and families, probably need to lighten up their every day eating, but there is something to holding on to holiday traditions, and if those include a few extra sweets and comforting food dishes thats okay.

19 Tara December 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

This is my thoughts/attitude toward holiday eating. Its the holidays. I dont plan to gain or lose. To me, its just another month of working out/eating. There is going to be alot of treats/ food that isnt around all year. I want to ENJOY the holidays, I dont want my worry of weight to get in the way of my joy.
I will continue to do my workouts/runs, plan most of my meals and eat healthy, and I will enjoy the wonderful warmth of the holiday season, parties, food.
If I gain 1-2 lbs…I know how to workout and get it off. I ‘enjoyed’ those pounds by celebrating.
I dont want to look back at all the years I worried about weight instead of enjoying the holidays with those I love.

PS Tina, I didnt join your recent BBB, but I re-started the summer BBB that I did in June and I am loving it again the 2nd time around! That is what is keeping me on track this holiday season! : )

20 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:55 am

That’s exactly what I was hoping to express with this post. Try to approach it as normal and balanced as possible, but still be open to a little more wiggle room to enjoy things that come with this time of year too. And glad to hear BBB is still keeping you going! :)

21 Stephanie @ My Freckled Life December 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I completely agree with this. I think there is a huge difference between EXPECTING to gain weight over the holidays, and BEING OK with gaining weight over the holidays. One gives off a “Who cares, because I’m going to gain weight anyway, so I might as well make the most of it!” while the other is all about letting yourself enjoy the holidays and all of the goodies that come along with it. I’m all about that.

22 Jolene December 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I totally agree that the holidays shouldn’t be a ticket to gorg for a month or so, but with a LIFESTYLE, LIFE happens and you are meant to live it, not scrimp it, so if you encounter a few more once-a-year goodies than you had potentially expected to or wanted to see or have, then it certainly is NOT the end of the world. Because if it’s all about balance and lifestyle, that does go both ways, living healthily and also realistically. good post friend!

23 Megan (The Lyons' Share) December 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Thank you for this post, Tina! It really made me think, and your perspective is so refreshing. Actually, I’m in the boat of kind of “expecting” to gain a few pounds during the holidays, and this works for me. I certainly would NOT feel the same way if I gained 10 pounds every year and never reversed it (like you mentioned), and I realize that’s a dangerous cycle. But I feel very in-tune with my body, I’m generally happy with how it looks and performs, I generally eat healthily, and I enjoy allowing myself to “indulge” in some of my holiday favorites that only come around once a year. I know that I’ll still get in my veggies and my water, and the changes I’ll notice will be minimal – and I’m confident that I’ll return to my normal eating habits soon after!

24 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:56 am

That’s pretty much my outlook too. And oddly enough I find it takes the pressure off so I can be even more balanced overall. Funny how that works, huh? ;)

25 lindsay December 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

is it wrong to say i think we need it? because i think we do. those 2 lbs of “cushion” for the winter. And i know most people will lose it fast come spring. MOST…

26 Heather @fitncookies December 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I don’t see anything wrong with indulging in the winter. Honestly, I know it’s coming, and it’s my favorite part of the year. Do I eat tons of kinds of cookies, lots of dips with chips, and other snacks in abundance the other months of the year? No, so indulging a few times isn’t a big deal to me. IF you gain a few pounds during it, no big deal because this isn’t a common occurrence. I don’t plan for it, but if it happens, so be it!

27 Katie @ Live Half Full December 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I always expect myself to gain weight around the holidays and the winter because I crave comfort foods and enjoy the season. In the summer I crave lighter foods, so I’m lighter then. It all evens out and I try not to get too worked up over it.

28 Danica @ It's Progression December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

This is absolutely fantastic, Tina!! I especially love this: “don’t let worrying about food keep you from really living.” <- something I'm really getting better at right now, and wow are the holidays SO much more enjoyable when I don't let food consume my thoughts!

29 tinareale December 5, 2013 at 6:57 am

It’s refreshing, huh? And when food doesn’t consume thoughts its easier to be realistic and balanced too. :)

30 Parita @ myinnershakti December 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

This is the exact mentality I took on over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate small portions of the things that I love (quite often actually) and exercised if/when I could. And guess what, I gained .2 pounds.

A huge personal lesson learned for me over the years is that the stress of overthinking my caloric intake leads to more eating and inevitable weight gain. Kind of like a “screw it” mentality. However, if I give myself the freedom to eat what I love, I enjoy it and am ok with less of it.

31 Debbie@Happy, Healthy, Fit and Fine December 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I’ve been guilty of the “screw it” mentality and always end up beating myself up later. Now I just try to remind myself that I can have everything the everyone else has only in moderation.

32 tinareale December 6, 2013 at 6:48 am

I know I always find I have the “screw it” mentality easier when I plan to eat perfectly healthy or have set limitations on myself. When I try to approach things with moderation it’s much easier to end up saying “screw it”. Hope you find success in your moderation this season! :)

33 Jessica @ Prayers and Apples December 6, 2013 at 11:05 am

hey tina! :) i totally agree! last year (when i was looking for an excuse to use this super cute gingerbread man picture in one of my posts lol) i found a study from the new england journal of medicine that says average holiday weight gain is actually only one pound when all is said and done! so that should ease a lil stress hehe :) here it is if you wanna check it out: http://prayersandapples.com/average-holiday-weight-gain-and-calories-in-favorite-christmas-foods/ merry almost christmas!! :)

34 Becky @ Trails and ultras December 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Completely agree with this post…I see nothing wrong with enjoying myself and putting on a bit over the holidays, I know it will soon go when I get back to normal in January. I think the trick is not going overboard throughout the whole of December, instead I just try to limit myself to the few days over christmas

35 Fiona MacDonald December 9, 2013 at 10:33 am

This hits SO close to home today after spending a wonderful evening with good friends and amazing food, and seeing the scale creep up ever so slightly this morning. Do I know I’ll get some good workouts in this week yes, but still seeing that number on the scale always puts me into a bit of a tail spin! I’m going to try to relax a bit and just ENJOY this time and know I’ll be back on track come January! Thank you posting this!

36 Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes December 10, 2013 at 6:59 am

Awesome message!

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