Healthy Byte: Day 1060

Healthy living shouldn’t always mean an either / or scenario.

The holidays – the time of joy, cheer, and weight gain. As we have all been repeatedly conditioned to believe, the holiday weight saboteur proves to be a formidable foe even to those who are most disciplined. Or does it?  

It occurred to me that there are many very popular myths out there which has been passed around for ages by traditionally reliable news outlets. But this is why I am prone to conduct my own research because many times it’s the only way to discern fact from fiction.

One of the most notorious is of course the weight the average person gains from the holidays. What is fact? What is fiction? Here, let’s take a look based on a published study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The Myth: Average person gains 7-10 lbs over the holiday season.

The Facts: The average person, based on year 2000 study published in the NEJM  indicates that the average weight gain between November to January is less than 1 pound! (Shocked?)

Interesting Findings to Keep in Mind:

  • Participants’ perceived weight gain was far greater than actual weight gain.
  • The more overweight a participant (based on BMI categories: Not Overweight; Overweight; or Obese) was at the beginning of the study the “greater likelihood of gaining … with increasing degree of overweight.” So if one was already overweight, their chances of gaining weight also increases. (Not new fact)
  • Two predictive factors for holiday weight gain should be no surprise – Perceived Hunger and Change in Activities Level. “Those who reported being much more active or much less hungry since their last visit had the greatest weight loss; conversely, those reporting being much less active or much more hungry since their last visit gained the most over the holiday interval.” (If we eat more and is less active … ahhm yea we’re going to gain weight / fat)

Study Conclusion Formal: “In contrast to the common perception that weight increases during the winter holiday season, the measured weight of the vast majority of subjects in this study changed little between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The subjects believed they had gained four times as much weight as their actual holiday weight gain of 0.37 kg. Fewer than 10 percent of subjects gained 2.3 kg or more, and more than half of all measurements of weight after the initial one were within 1 kg of the previous measurement. Thus, despite the fact that 85 percent of the study subjects made no effort to control their weight, large weight gains over the winter holiday season were not the norm. Unfortunately, we also found that the 0.18-kg average weight gain during the fall preholiday period and the 0.37-kg increase during the holiday season were largely maintained during the postholiday winter period from January to February or March, resulting in a net average weight gain of 0.48 kg. In subjects who completed one year of observation, the weight increased by an average of 0.32 kg during the holiday period and 0.62 kg over the entire year, suggesting that the period contributing most to yearly weight change is the six-week holiday period.”

Study Conclusion Cliff Notes:

  1. The average person do gain (< 1 lb) the most during the holidays but nowhere near (7-10 lbs) the widely perpetuated myth claims.
  2. If we maintain the healthy habits (eating & activities level) we do the rest of the year the forecasted holiday weight gain doom is one of the biggest fibs which continues to be  irresponsibly circulated.

My Personal Add-On: I’d almost add in the possibility of the placebo effect. If we are lead to believe that we will gain weight over the holidays than how many of us tend to unconsciously toss in the towel and just embrace what seem to be inevitable?

Holiday Eating Tip

Practicing 90/10 Rule for me is my ticket to mindfully indulge guilt free. It’s wonderful not to be bothered by the glaring red warnings which MFP dutifully affords me.

Do I indulge? Dang skippy!

Usually every November time frame the cult favorite McRib hits local McDonalds. And I am usually the first in line ordering 2 to 3 at a time. I load it with veggies to psychologically trying to make it more ‘healthy’ but I know it’s negligible. I enjoy the crap out of it while it’s here and once its gone I move on.

Day 1060 27Nov2015 MFP Overages

My Thanksgiving Overages – Multiple servings of Apple Pies w/Ice Cream adds up quickly. Thank goodness once its enjoyed it’s gone – no lingering leftover temptations to contend with. 🙂

Day 1060 28Nov2015 MFP Overages

ahhhhh the McRib!! 🙂 The “If every day were” like reminder is a great way to put indulgences into perspectives for me because it is not my ‘every day.’

My other holiday must-have is warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Nothing says holidays to me more than cold vanilla ice cream melting over a piping hot slice of apple pie! Instead of buying an entire pie & a gallon of ice cream, I opt to purchase an individual portion of apple pie and ice cream cup. I reap all the benefits of the indulgence but the portion is controlled for me – best of both worlds. And like the McRib, once it’s gone, it’s gone. No week-long leftovers to tempt me.

day 1060

So my tip is – indulge away. Control the portion when possible. Add in the healthy when possible. And log it all in and don’t be afraid of giving yourself permission to enjoy … as long as it is truly an occasional occurrence it will not have any long term detrimental effects on our quests for healthy living.

Other Myths Busted:

Freshman 15 

Holiday Fitness Myths 

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Healthy Byte: Day 970

“Complete abstinence

is easier than

perfect moderation.”

~ Saint Augustine

Day 970 Fried Rice

Of course St. Augustine was referring to abstinence from something else entirely but its actually very applicable to my maintenance success. I am a huge advocate for moderation and I am as loyal to living the 90/10 Rule as a dog to a master holding to a piece of juicy bacon. But I think like many things in life there are no absolutes. 

The 90/10 Rule affords me the emotional and mental permission to indulge guilt free. And I have long touted to be a firm believer not to banish any food group(s) or specific food into permanent exile and to a certain extent, that remains my motto. However like superman, I do have my personal kryptonite. There is one item that I have completely, ruthlessly, and utterly unapologetic in eradicating it from my diet entirely … my frenemy … rice.

Rice to me was like the one ring to Gollum. I loved it and I hated it. I loved it because it was a meal staple for as long as I can remember. I hated it because I lacked the ability not to commit gluttony when it comes to it. A meal didn’t feel like a meal without it. It was rice with breakfast, rice with lunch, rice for dinner, rice, rice, rice!

For me, rice is very much unlike other foods which can be easily satisfied with a small sampling or a substitution. For example, if I wanted cheesecake I’d be perfectly content with having one slice from Barnes & Noble Cafe instead of an entire cake from Cheesecake Factory. Or if I was hankering for chips, I can easily be fulfilled with an individual bag stocked near the checkout rather than the family size bag from the chip section of the grocery store.

But rice … no. It lured me to lose my faculties and carelessly toss care into the winds. If there was a tub of fried rice I can probably inhale half a tub in one sitting & return to finish the rest in about 15-20 minutes. It’s was one facet of my food source that I truly felt was beyond my control. So because of this lack of inability of self restraint, I resorted to utterly eliminate it from my food repertoire multiply by infinity. It took me approximately 18 months to slowly transition away from my ‘feeling’ of a proper meal by incrementally reduce my rice consumption. From absolutely zero accountability of portions size down to ½ cup before switching over to quinoa and bidding farewell to the lovely little morsel of rice. I donated any unused rice to local food bank and even donated my rice cooker … but please don’t tell my mother. 😉

It has been almost two years since I have had any rice. And I know that may sound like a horrifying sacrifice but to be quite honest, I don’t even miss it now. I don’t miss it because I avoid it like the plague. Prolonged avoidance makes me forget more and more what the allure was. Since I no longer remember the allure, I lose my taste or craving for it. And since I’ve lost my taste or craving for it, I no longer eat it. Sound familiar? (chicken and the egg phenomena)

So now I can walk into Panda Express and stand right in front of the shiny giant cask of fried rice and not pathetically salivate at the site of it. I can order a double serving of the vegetables in lieu of without a second thought. My complete abstinence of rice has allowed me to be truly free.

So I encourage everyone to reflect and identify any possible personal kryptonite(s) which may be throwing a monkey wrench in their long term maintenance. Then I would doubly encourage to consider a complete abstinence rather than the uphill struggle striving for perfect moderation. It’s not defeat or a lack of will power; it’s the wisdom to know & to chose a different path.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS

Different Set of Skills Required for Maintenance

“It seems somewhat similar to love and marriage. What gets you to the altar is likely to be quite different than what keeps you married in the long-term. [And] not recognizing this transition and adapting with different practices will also get you in trouble.”

TIP OF THE WEEK

Chesse. Who doesn’t love gooey dooey melty cheese? And cheese is one of those items which can quickly add up in calories with very little effort … at least for me. In my search for a cheese dupe, I’ve come across an ingenious version of my favorite – provolone cheese. Sargento was actually the first to produce an ‘Ultra Thin’ line. It’s ingenious because it melts the same, gives comparable cheesey satisfaction but at a fraction of the calories & fat. By swapping out the cheese to my daily work lunch sandwich, I save 33 calories per sandwich, 165 calories a week. 9,240 calories a year. And again, small daily changes adds up quite nicely in the long run.

2015 9-1

Per 1 Slice Regular Slice Provolone Cheese Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

(Store Brand) Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

Difference per Sandwich
Calories 70 40 37 33
Total Calories from Fat 45 27 27 18
Total Fat 5 3 2.7 2.3
Saturated Fat 3 1.7 2 1 to 1.3

HB Sig