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3 Ridiculously Easy Rules To Keep the Holiday Weight Off

Enjoy the holidays guilt-free with these simple tips to stay lean and fit.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

There's a cliché that the average person gains 10 pounds during the holiday season. While that exact number might not be entirely accurate, according to research, it's still common for people to pack on some extra pounds thanks to all those big meals, tasty treats, and adult beverages. Lucky for you, we're here to share three ridiculously easy rules to help you keep the weight off over the holidays.

Unfortunately, some people become so terrified of gaining weight that they deny themselves all the fun and enjoyment. (We're looking at you, sweet potato casserole and peppermint crinkle cookies!) This approach is flawed, because it's "all or nothing"—either they stuff themselves and pack on the pounds, or they eat nothing and feel miserable. Even worse, if they do end up eating a lot in one meal, they wake up the next day feeling crummy and then "punish" themselves with intense workouts.

Thankfully, there's a much better and more sustainable approach. Just by following a few simple rules, you can enjoy the holiday season, have an extra slice of pie, savor another glass of wine, and do it all guilt-free. Keep reading for three tips that'll help you keep the weight off during this very merry time of year. (You're welcome.)

Earn your treats.

workout holiday concept

Holidays just wouldn't be the holidays without delicious pies, cookies, cakes, and more. Thankfully, you don't have to abstain—instead, I recommend you "earn" your treats with exercise.

For example, if you did a great workout, then congratulations: You've earned that slice of pumpkin pie you've been eyeing. But if you missed a few workouts and spent all day on the couch, then, uh, you probably should put that slice away.

By exercising before you indulge in a treat, you prevent unwanted fat gains and actually increase your chance of having those calories turn into muscle. Doing a fantastic workout burns a lot of stored energy (in the form of glycogen) and creates a huge energy demand as your body craves nutrients, carbs, protein, etc. So by throwing on an extra treat, don't be surprised if it actually helps you refuel and recover.

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Follow the 80/20 rule.

Many people step on the scale the day after Thanksgiving to see they've gained a few pounds, but let me stress that it's impossible to gain that much fat in one day. It's probably just water weight (and other stuff). Within a few days, it will disappear.

Rather than worrying about a handful of meals you'll have during the holiday season, focus on eating healthy and clean 80% of the time—eating lean protein, lots of veggies, good carbs, and healthy fats and avoiding processed junk foods. If you do that, then you can splurge the remaining 20% of the time and not worry.

After savoring that heavy meal with family and friends, you can just get right back onto your normal diet the very next day with zero impact on your body fat.

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Stay consistent with training.

woman in santa hat at gym demonstrates how to keep the weight off over the holidays

This year, almost half of all Americans will travel during the holiday season, according to research by PwC. But while it's fun to visit new places or see friends and family, travel makes it much more difficult to stay on your normal exercise routine—you have to look for a gym, find time to exercise, and even interrupt your itinerary.

But that's all the more reason to exercise. Even if you can't find a gym, there are still many ways to get great exercise, burn calories, and avoid any fat gain while on the road. For example, you can do bodyweight exercises at your home or hotel, go for a jog around the neighborhood, or ride a bike. You can even plan physical excursions during your vacation like a hiking tour, a ski trip, and more. All of it will make a difference in keeping you fit and lean during the most wonderful time of the year.

Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony
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