Keeping the Family Fit with Fun Over the Holiday

It’s so common to view holiday feasting as a fantastic event, but one that often results in dreaded weight gain. It doesn’t have to be that way for your family! There are ways to have fun eating and burning calories, and keeping you happy and healthy during and after the holiday festivities.

Before the Blast Off

A great way to charge up everyone’s appetite is to take an early-day walk or run. Check to see if there are any Family Fun Runs in your area. It’s a terrific way for everyone to be together and get some exercise before becoming eating machines.

Another thing that’s beneficial about participating together in a morning activity is that it lends to mutual conversation later in the day. “Wasn’t it funny when Joey ran past the finish line and didn’t know the race was over?”

Movin’ and Groovin’ Before and After

If you’re already an active family, then you’ve probably got a lot of the usual activities on your list. Before (or after) the travel, cooking, or eating, you can take a group bike ride, play some ultimate Frisbee, flag-football, volleyball, or tennis, to name a few sports. These activities require a minimum amount of equipment but pack a large punch of fun.

Getting the body moving is what matters most. Any exercise is beneficial. If you’re in a cold or snowy area, your outdoor playtime might be limited; however, you may have access to other activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding.

Indoors you can indulge in a classic game of Twister, play ping-pong, volleyball with a balloon, practice some yoga, freeze dance, or musical chairs. There really is no end to the fun you can have with your group as long as you keep it playful. It’s not a time for competition; it’s about sharing the joy of movement and amusement.

During Mealtime Be Mindful

Sure, everything is incredibly delicious. Especially that wacky strawberry marshmallow ambrosia. Oh, and that chocolate pecan pie. And we can’t forget those candied yams! It’s definitely not a day to deny yourself. However, you don’t need to engorge in order to enjoy.

In fact, you’ll most definitely feel better afterwards (body and mind) if you ate in moderation. Be mindful of everything you’re putting in your mouth. Normally, you may not intake as much sugar. It’s OK to allow yourself a day off. But, remember that your body will have a reaction to what you put in it.

These types of feasts are a great way to model mindful eating for our children. Take a little of everything if you like it all. But your plate doesn’t need to be piled-up, mile-high. One small scoop of mashed potatoes will be just as satisfying as if you took six. And then go ahead, add a little gravy.

If your family practices healthy eating and exercise as conscious, daily, lifestyle choices, then “the holidays” won’t eat you alive. You will automatically be more mindful of what you eat, how much, and how you’ll work in some movement before or after. And the best part is that you won’t feel denied, but rather treated. Here’s to being thankful for family —and cheat days! Check out Thrive for more family fun tips!


Weight Loss Tips for Women with Young Children

It’s not easy losing pregnancy weight after your baby is born. Even then, we may lose the baby weight, but still continue to gain, year after year. There are theories linked to this phenomenon, and addressing them may actually be key to losing weight.

What Are the Numbers?

The findings from a study on weight gain amongst moms were recently published in the journal Women’s Health Issues. Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed data from hospital records of over 30,000 women who had given birth from 2006 to 2013. They compared weight-gain patterns to women who had not given birth.

About a year or two after delivery, the moms’ weight-gain patterns were fairly similar to the non-moms. However, after that initial time frame, the moms gained weight at a faster rate. So, it’s not the actual pregnancy, according to this study, that puts more overall weight on a woman over time.

Then, what’s the correlation?

The hypothesis is that lifestyle changes that occur from becoming a mom are what lend to the weight gain. The average weight gain for non-moms each year was approximately 1.94 pounds. However, for women with children, the data revealed their annual weight gain to be 2.89 pounds.

After Baby is Born

Many women these days choose to breastfeed, if able. With newborns, a mom can burn up to 500 extra calories per day. But aside from that, and as time progresses, it’s understandable how moms cannot lose, or continue to gain weight.

In general, mothers place the needs of their child above their own. We will sit with our baby or toddler with a book or a video, rather than going to the gym, for example. We’ll eat the leftover potato and chicken dinosaur rather than feeding ourselves nutritiously. It’s a tough act to juggle, and unfortunately, our waistline can take the brunt.

Expecting to return to your pre-pregnancy weight isn’t necessarily realistic either. It’s not that you couldn’t, but consider that time has elapsed. There is normal weight gain with the passage of time. So, even if you never got pregnant, over the course of two or three years, you’d probably gain two or three pounds anyway.

The Way To Lose and Yet Win

Here are some tips for those of you: 1) wanting to lose weight after baby, or 2) not wanting to gain more than what would otherwise be naturally expected over the course of time.

  • Try to get more sleep. Of course this sounds impossible. But, think about napping when baby or toddler naps. Express milk and let dad do a feeding with a bottle. The more sleep you miss, the higher your cortisol levels. That stress hormone will not let you lose weight.
  • Prioritize cleaning (and allow the rest to wait.) This is also in the stress-reduction category. Of course, if baby is crawling, you’ll need to vacuum or mop for safety and health reasons. Other chores, however, will get done when they get done. The more you can relax, the easier it will be for your body to shed some pounds.
  • Feed your child healthy foods that you will eat too. Children can learn to eat (and enjoy!) what you feed them. There are also tricks for getting them to eat certain foods. If you’re preparing nutritious meals and snacks for your family, then you’ve just created a great diet plan for you.
  • Exercise with your child. Many gyms have child-care rooms. Get a jogger stroller. Play catch and chase the ball. Put on yoga videos and practice at home with your toddler. You’ll get in better shape, and you’ll also be setting a great life-long health example for your child.
  • Join groups. Every community has social resources. There are baby/mommy classes, some geared for movement, education, or entertainment. Think of these venues as ways to meet like-minded women. There are also groups who meet at the local parks. Networking with others moms will help with the support we all need.

Surely, with physical and hormonal changes, our bodies are challenged from pregnancy and giving birth. That doesn’t mean, however, it’s always the reason for extra weight, especially three or more years after the fact. Empowering ourselves, knowing that we can make healthier choices, may just be the motivation we need.