Want to enjoy holiday treats while maintaining good health? It's not impossible

It's easy to gain weight during holiday season -- aim for balance, expert says

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The upcoming holiday season is always a reason to celebrate, but there is one negative byproduct of all the treats and parties: temptation. 

There are lots of ways to go off track health wise, with all the goodies that come with Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays in December.

However, there are some tips to follow where one can have the best of both worlds by enjoying the holiday season and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Charlotte Morales, a fitness coach at an Orangetheory Fitness in Houston, offered some solutions to questions that often come up during the holiday season.

How much weight does an average person gain over the holidays?

“The average American gains about 8 to 10 pounds over the holidays,” Morales said. “It’s not so much because of a little treat here or there. It’s an accumulation and having an all-or-nothing mentality of ‘Oh, I missed that one workout, so I might as well eat everything in sight.’ That’s where we run into trouble.”

What are the most harmful holiday foods or beverages?

Heavy drinks such as egg nog or pumpkin spice beverages can have as many as 500 calories in them and should, for the most part, be avoided. 

The same goes for various cakes, cookies, pies and muffins that are baked for holiday parties. 

“Those are really sneaky calories,” Morales said. “Enjoy those as a treat, but not on a consistent basis.”

Is there an appropriate portion/ration of treats to have?

As is usually the case throughout the year, moderation is important. But it just happens to become more important around holiday time. 

“When it comes to parties and going out, I tell people to pick out that one thing every year that you are so excited to have,” Morales said. “Make it a treat and not a routine for the whole month or the two months. That’s where people run into trouble.”

Is it necessary to exercise more during the holidays?

Not really. 

Changing a routine by adding more workouts could lead to burnout, so Morales said it’s important to stick to a consistent routine in which you regularly work out. 

“The reality is, most people don’t have more time to exercise during the holidays,” she said. “They barely have times for the holidays in their real lives. Instead of exercising more, I recommend thinking about what things you can keep in balance. It’s very hard to outrun calories. Stick to your routine as best you can. If you work out four to five times a week, try to keep that. You don’t want to set yourself up to fail.”

Do you have to change your workout routine for holidays? 

Workout fanatics who mostly like to lift weights might think they have to do more cardio during the holiday season. Those who like to do more cardio exercises and only a little bit of weightlifting might think they should exclusively do cardio to burn off extra calories consumed. 

Morales said none of that has to be done. 

“The holidays are two months,” she said. “It takes about that long to see any results from any program anyway. If people are in a program where they want to gain strength and that’s their goal, I wouldn’t change it for the holidays. Same thing on the other side -- if they are working on their endurance. Whatever you pick to work on, I would say consistency is more important than doing something crazy to outrun the fruitcake.” 

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