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7 Tips for CPT Campers to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

According to recent studies, the average American’s weight increases by about 0.4% over end-of-the-year holidays such as Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s. One study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which can be accessed here gathered data from 2,924 people and showed significant increases in weight over Easter, Thanksgiving and the Christmas/Hanukah holidays. In total, the study showed around one pound gained per holiday season for the average person.

Weight gain varies across the holidays. Most people don’t ever lose the pound of weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report which you can access here. The average weight gain is about one to two pounds a year, which means much of weight gain can be explained by holiday eating.

For people who are already overweight, holiday weight news is worse. Although the average gain is only one pound, people who are already overweight tend to gain a lot more. One study found that overweight people gained five pounds or more during the holidays. You can access this study here.

Tip #1: Get A Plan

So what can CPT campers do to mitigate the dangers of the upcoming holidays? First and foremost, you need a plan. Don’t just think of one, actually write it down.  If you need help, share your written plan with your family, roommates, or loved ones. Post the plan somewhere prominent so you can be reminded of your plan several times per day.

Your health plan should include components for healthy eating, physical activity, reduction of screen time, and a plan to get back on track if you stumble.

Tip #2: Communicate Your Plan

If possible, have someone around you agree to stay on the plan as well.  It’s more fun to stay healthy with a partner and you can encourage and support each other through the holidays. Even if you can’t find someone to keep to your healthy eating plan, perhaps you can find someone that will commit to walking 10,000 steps with you every day. Your plan support does not physically have to be with you- you can “virtually” check-in with someone daily to stay on plan and support each other.

If you are staying at a relative’s house over the holidays, be sure they know your eating preferences. Communicate to them what is “on plan” and “off plan” for you. They don’t have to give up dessert for everyone, but if they know beforehand you want a fruit plate instead of pecan pie, it will make it easier for you to stay on plan when the time comes.

Tip #3: Start the Day Off Right

One good suggestion for healthy eating is to start each day with a healthy breakfast.  This is especially true when you know a big holiday meal is being prepared for later that day. Think back to your time at CPT and what you ate for breakfast.  Limit drinks to zero-calorie fluids with the exception of skim milk.

Remember how much fruit you ate at CPT? That’s because fruit is generally low-caloric density, meaning it fills you up but the calorie count is low. If you eat a healthy, low-calorie breakfast, you are already 1/3 of your way to success!

Tip #4: Watch Mindless Eating

“Mindless Eating” is defined as eating without thinking. Impulsive eating, and eating out of boredom falls into this category. Mindless eating is especially prevalent over the holidays.

Many households will have bowls of food out for houseguests to snack on when company is over. This can be very dangerous to those committed to keeping healthy. If you are spending the holidays at your home, put out low calorie, high fiber foods next to any bowls of candy, chips, or other high-calorie foods.

If you are staying at a guest’s house, ask them to simply provide a bowl of mixed whole fruit as an option. Most importantly, if you are forced to be in a situation where unhealthy foods are provided with ongoing access, you can just adopt the mindset that, “This bowl of chips/candy/sweets is not for me.”

Tip #5: Limit Screen Time

Holiday depression is real, and we can improve our moods by how we use our time. Sitting for extended periods of time looking at Snapchat photos of our friends appearing to have more fun can be depressing. Research has also shown that playing video games or mindless internet browsing can make us agitated, interfere with our sleep patterns, and takes us away from healthy physical activity.

Tip #6: Make Physical Activity Part of Your Day

Get into a daily physical routine if you are not already in one.  Even if you are away with relatives, there are still things you can do to stay fit. There are no excuses here- even if you are snowed in, you can break out those Zumba moves you learned at camp, do yoga, or walk/jog weather permitting.

Even if you are snowed in, break out the sleds and go sledding! Running up hills to sled is not only fun, but it’s one of the best physical activities you can do.  So get outside and sled, build that snowman or have a friendly snowball fight. Get creative and remember that activity can be fun!

Tip #7: Have a Plan to Get Back on Track

To really master healthy living, one needs to have a plan to get back on track when they stumble. Write down what you will do if you overindulge or if you don’t exercise one day. For instance, if you overeat one meal or eat something off-plan, commit to having just a salad with low-calorie dressing for the next meal. If you miss your morning walk, kick it up to a light jog the next time you have an activity scheduled, or walk your route twice to make it up.

Final Thoughts

The end-of-the-year holidays result in weight gain for most Americans. But this does not have to be you. Remember what you learned at CPT last summer and keep true to your commitments. If it would help, ask your parents to sign you up for next summer. Just think of how your camp friends will react when they see you next summer more fit and healthy than ever!