Shelly Barnes


The average person puts on some extra pounds in the weeks between the Thanksgiving holiday and New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, weight gained in this short period may take six months to lose. And if you had already been trying to shed a few pounds, putting on that holiday weight can really give you the blues.

Take heart. Adding pounds during the holidays is not inevitable. You can enjoy your holiday meals and still face that scale with pride by the new year. One way you can do that is by moving your resolution date up two months and making a November Resolution to “Maintain, don’t gain” this holiday season.

Consider these resolutions:

  • · Make physical activity a part of your daily life. A major contributor to weight gain during holidays is sedentary living. Holiday schedules are tight and exercise schedules are often sacrificed to make time. Don’t make that trade-off this year and pledge to keep moving.
  • · Prioritize healthy living. Dietitians agree that the best way to manage weight is to modify eating habits in such a way that you never feel deprived. Choose foods that you actually enjoy that are also lower in fat, sugar and calories.
  • · Feel free to fill your plate at holiday feasts, but select fresh fruits, salad greens, and filling veggies instead of sugary desserts, fried foods, mountains of breads or starchy entrees. You can still eat the “other” foods you enjoy, but take a smaller portion.

Here are some more ideas for keeping trim during the holidays.

  • · When eating turkey, choose white meat over dark. A three-ounce serving of turkey breast (skinless) has 119 calories and 1 gram of fat (compared to dark meat with 145 calories/5 grams).
  • · If you’re cooking, provide at least one healthier option per category. For dessert, offer a fresh fruit option. For side dishes, offer a vegetable option instead of potatoes or rice. If you are going to a party, bring a healthy dish that you can enjoy.
  • · When dining out (even if it’s to-go), decline the bread and butter plate or limit yourself to just one piece.
  • · Pass up alcohol. One mixed drink can contain up to 300 calories; a serving of eggnog is around 400.

Resolve to maintain and don’t gain and you’ll have no regrets come Jan. 1. Plus, maintaining a stable healthy weight has many health benefits including managing and preventing Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

If you’re ready to take the Maintain, Don’t Gain pledge, then register for the free Maintain, Don’t Gain Healthy Holiday Challenge now through Nov. 6 at

The Maintain, Don’t Gain Healthy Holiday Challenge lasts seven weeks. It begins the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22) and runs through Jan. 10. The challenge offers tips about how you can prevent weight gain and stay fit during the busy holiday season. Each week during the seven-week challenge, you will receive one email message that will help you to survive and thrive in spite of all the temptations to overeat and be inactive. 

What is included in the Maintain, Don’t Gain Healthy Holiday Challenge?

  • · Weekly email newsletter
  • · Weekly Challenges
  • · Healthy Holiday recipes
  • · Fun, fitness ideas
  • · Family activities
  • · Nutrition information
  • · Holly Jolly Savings
  • · Share progress in private Facebook community
  • · Daily tips in private Facebook community
  • · Participating Fitness Facilities Free use
  • · End of program prizes

At the end of the seven weeks, you will be asked to complete a short survey. You don’t reveal your weight, just whether you maintained, gained or lost. This is a free program.

Participants also get free opportunities at local fitness centers during the challenge just for signing up. The free opportunities end Jan. 10.  

Shelly Barnes is the family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Contact her at or(615) 444-9584 ext. 105.

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