On Thursday, many Americans will sit down to a meal that could be a whopping 3,000 calories. While just one bad day of eating might not lead to weight gain, Thanksgiving marks the start of an often overindulgent holiday season.
But, putting on weight over the holidays doesn’t have to be inevitable. These five weight loss all-stars have shed a combined total of 626 pounds and have been maintaining their losses. They share advice on how they enjoy beloved holiday foods without gaining weight or creating bad habits.
- Be Mindful
After losing 124 pounds, Justine McCabe remembers holidays where she restricted her calories so much that she barely enjoyed anything — and, she remembers holidays when she ate so much she felt sick for days. That’s why she tries to be mindful.
“Be intentional with your eating,” McCabe told TODAY. “Don’t use the holidays as a cheat time.”
Gendreau agrees. He finds that while watching football or hanging out, he might snack even though he isn’t hungry.
“Don’t let boredom lead to weight gain,” he said. “Slow, mindful eating is key.”
- Keep Moving
Lugo often participates in a turkey trot or other holiday exercise activity prior to Thanksgiving dinner. Hannah Lester, who lost 112 pounds, doesn’t make any changes to her exercise routine, but keeps up her good habits.
“I just try to stay consistent,” Lester told TODAY via email. “I don’t want to slack off during the holiday season.”
- Manage Your Stress
Lugo has noticed that when she feels stressed or overly tired, her willpower isn’t as strong. She’s more likely to snack or overeat.
“Control your stress levels,” she explained. “The higher your stress, the more that your body signals your brain to want to eat. Go to yoga. Breathe a couple of times.”
- Don’t Deny Yourself
Lester has a hard time passing up her mom’s shortbread cookies and Chex Mix. So she doesn’t.
“It’s all about portion control,” she said. “Instead of three cookies, I just eat one.”
Lugo agrees. She loves sweets and enjoys a small piece of pie and a cookie. Janielle Wright , who lost 105 pounds, finds that small portions help her maintain her weight.