By Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, APNP
Do you have big plans for January? Many of my patients say they’d like to take control of their health in 2020. That often includes losing some extra pounds.
However, it’s always important not to get caught up in the numbers on the scale. Instead, a good alternative goal is to focus on lowering your body fat (but only if that would help your general health) and raising your energy levels. In other words, your goal should always be to improve your overall quality of life, not to chase after an often-elusive number on a scale.
No matter why you want to lose weight, it’s important to approach your New Year’s resolution with a strategy. That will raise your odds of success. (Here’s a sobering fact: About 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February.)
The Run-Up to the New Year
Think about it. We often coast through December, eating, drinking, and neglecting our usual fitness routine. Then January arrives and we expect our body to adjust to an austere new regime. It’s no wonder that many people give up.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to prime your body to get ready for January’s resolutions while still enjoying the holidays. That includes revving up your metabolism so it’s ready to deal with dietary changes. And it’s even possible to do this during the busy month of December. Here are some steps that can help.
7 Ways to Avoid Packing On Extra Pounds This Holiday Season
1. Watch What You Eat
This is not just about how much you eat. The macro and micronutrient choices you make when selecting your food can change how efficiently your body metabolizes fat. In particular, include a source of protein with every meal. One reason for this is that it helps your body maintain muscle tone. (You can lose muscle when you lose weight, which slows your metabolism.)
2. Don’t Cut Back On Sleep
Since we’re not technically moving during our sleeping hours, it doesn’t seem like that time should impact your base metabolism. However, researchers have found that getting adequate sleep, which for most people is around eight hours, is essential to good metabolism.
3. Develop a Herbal Tea Habit
While you’re celebrating the holidays, consider switching some of that eggnog and champagne for herbal tea. Not only is it lower in calories, you will be consuming more water, one of the main catalysts for weight loss, and warm water is soothing to your digestive system which improves metabolism. Peppermint tea is particularly good for a stomach that’s complaining about the extra food, whereas Chamomile sets you up for a good night’s sleep, and Rooibos tea is full of antioxidants as well as being a natural energy booster.
4. Get Enough Vitamin D
During the winter, and especially before you make any dietary changes, it’s a good idea to check your Vitamin D levels. In addition to its many other health benefits, new studies have found that vitamin D can help with weight loss. In one study, women with adequate levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream lost more weight than women who were deficient in vitamin D.
Note that it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. And at this time of the year, we often don’t get enough sun exposure to generate our own vitamin D. Supplementation is key this time of year.
5. Top Up Your Magnesium
Magnesium helps with many processes in your body, so many that a deficiency of magnesium is quite common. Although it may not directly impact weight loss, having adequate levels of magnesium can help you sleep more deeply, regulate your moods, and control your blood sugar. Those are all important elements to maintaining a healthy metabolism. Good sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and dark chocolate as well as magnesium glycinate supplements.
6. Eat Probiotic Foods
Before you even start ramping up your healthy eating routine, get your gut in shape (from the inside!). Healthy gut flora can help with weight control. In fact, the makeup of the gut bacteria of overweight or obese people is typically different than that of people of healthy weight. In addition to fermented foods like kimchi or yoghurt, taking a high quality probiotic supplement in December can boost your gut bacteria levels. Not only can probiotics pave the way for better digestion in January, they also boost the immune system which makes for a healthier social season.
7. Stay Active
Yes, it’s hard when you’re busy. However, continuing to stay active will make it easier to hit the gym when you’re ready to ramp up your routine. Not only will your muscles stay limber, but you’ll also be taking steps to prevent your mind from slipping into a winter funk, which can impact your motivation.
The good news is that it doesn’t take too much to maintain your base fitness levels. Remember: It’s better to do a bit, every day, then to be a weekend warrior. So fit in some 20-minute workouts, try a short YouTube cardio video, or meet some friends at yoga (or even walk around the mall!). Your metabolism will be grateful that you did come January.
If you’re focusing on sustaining your metabolism so that you can crush those New Year’s resolutions in 2020, make sure you include strength training. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more efficient your metabolism will be. Even when you’re just sitting still, you’ll burn more calories. If you’re not sure how to begin with all these tips, the best plan is to speak with an expert! We’d be happy to help you create a unique plan that suits you.
Yes, improving your metabolism can feel like a daunting task this time of the year. However, taking a few simple steps now can help get ready to meet your New Year’s resolutions head on!
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP, is a woman’s hormone expert and the owner of Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone care center at 1480 Swan Road, De Pere. Mann is the author of the eBook: A Guide to Gluten and Going Gluten Free. She is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner, one of a handful in Wisconsin and less than 1600 worldwide to achieve this distinction. She combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medicine to help women with female, thyroid and adrenal hormone issues to live healthier, more abundant, joy-filled lives using a blend of compassion, cutting edge science, practical guidance and humor. Contact her at 920-339-5252 or via the Internet at www.wisewomanwellness.com. Attend the introductory seminar, “End Hormone Havoc – Crazy Hormones Cause Fatigue, Weight Gain and Brain Fog and How to Fix Them!”, offered monthly, to learn about specialized thyroid, adrenal and female hormone testing and customized, bioidentical hormone treatments to achieve lifelong optimal hormone balance, increased vitality and longevity.