NCH is part of Endeavor Health

Learn more

News  ›  Fitness and Nutrition

How to maintain – not gain – during the holidays

December 11, 2018

Man picking food from a buffet table

Which is easier: losing 10 pounds after the holidays? Or not overeating during the holidays? It’s definitely the latter, says Rosemary Weaver, NCH Wellness Center Clinical Dietitian. Rosemary and other Wellness Center staff members agree it’s possible to avoid weight gain during the food-filled holidays using tricks to control portions, squeezing in time for exercise and staying mindful of how much you’re eating.

Popular programs at the Wellness Center – like WIN, Styku Challenge, the Maintain Campaign and MedFit – also can help keep you on track.

Since the average person gains a few pounds during the holidays (some reports say up to 10 pounds), here are some strategies to make sure you’re not one of those people:

Re-frame your attitude

In the WIN Program (an acronym for weight management, improved fitness and nutrition awareness) Weaver tells participants not to think in absolutes, like good or bad eating, falling off the wagon or saying, “I’ve totally blown it.” Instead, think of the holidays as a time to eat special foods that remind us of our childhoods. Then take a small portion, eat it slowly and savor it.

“Walking away from the table without being stuffed is really the key,” Weaver says.

Visualize success, making sure you’re comfortable, but not full. Focus more on what makes the meal special – like being together with loved ones, reminiscing and making memories – rather than feasting on everything being served.

“Try to find those activities that don’t focus on food, says Wellness Center Certified Personal Trainer Michelle Tolar. “I always preach balance.”

Adjust your eating

Give yourself permission to have little food splurges, but then balance it out the rest of the day. For example, if you indulge in treats someone brought to the office or eat a rich, heavy meal, make sure your next meal is something very light, like a cup of vegetable bean soup, fruit or some Greek yogurt and veggie sticks. Go easy on the starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes and stick to lean proteins and veggies.

Also, don’t go more than five hours without eating because then you’ll be so hungry you’re likely to eat too much.

Go into this like a fighter

During the holidays, there’s always a person refilling your wine glass or waving food in front of you, insisting you taste it or have another helping. You need to politely tell these diet saboteurs “no.”

“It usually works to say, ‘This is so delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I truly cannot eat another bite,’” Weaver says. “You’re in control. Go into this like a fighter. You WIN strong, as we say in the WIN program. It’s not all or nothing. You have to think, ‘What portion is appropriate for me, so I can leave the table feeling comfortable, satisfied and happy?’”

Remember that this isn’t the last time you’re ever going to experience this particular food, so there’s no need to gorge yourself on it.

Ramp up your exercise

Because everyone’s so busy during the holidays, exercise often falls off the to-do list. If there’s no time for the gym, Weaver suggests finding creative ways to squeeze it in. Park your car far away in the parking lot so you walk a little more. Do sit ups or jog in place while watching TV. Or bundle up and take a 20- or 30-minute walk outside. The Wellness Center gym and pool are open every day of the year except Christmas, so you can always squeeze in a quick workout, even on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

“You have to build it into your routine,” says Tolar, who lost 80 pounds herself, in part, because she always found time to exercise even when she was busy.

Take the Styku Challenge

This two-month challenge offered at the Wellness Center is incentive to help you lose body fat. For $60, members get two Styku 3D body scans – one at the beginning of the challenge and one at the end. Standing on a rotating platform, the state-of-the-art scanner thoroughly measures body fat and other levels. You’ll be able to lay your first scan over the second to see exactly where you lost weight. It’s something many people find eye-opening.

Here’s some motivation to work hard: if you lose at least two percent of your body fat, you’ll get a discount on your six-month membership, which is required to join the challenge. The next Styku Challenge starts in January.

Sign up for the WIN program

This is the Wellness Center’s most intensive and motivating program for those who want to lose weight, improve fitness and learn about nutrition.

“There’s a high degree of accountability,” Weaver says. “You have to be ready for this. It’s kind of like a journey you’re taking.”

It begins with an in-depth nutritional questionnaire, a 3D Styku body scan and stepping on a Tanita scale to measure weight and body fat.

Every week for 12 weeks WIN members meet weekly for 90 minutes to workout, build their individual meal plans for the week, review their food journal with Weaver and get educated about nutrition and clean eating. While highly individualized, there’s still a team feel to the experience. (At the end of their high-intensity workouts, the group shouts “WIN strong!”) A monthly support group helps WIN alumni stay on track.

The next session begins Jan. 17 to April 4, 2019, and costs $870 for members and $984 for non-members. Sign up on or before Jan. 1 and get 10 percent off the cost.

Try the Maintain Campaign

Every holiday season, the Wellness Center runs a Maintain Campaign. Although it’s too late to join this year, you can consider it for 2019.

The week prior to Thanksgiving, participants weigh in and then attempt to stay within two pounds of their starting weight through mid-January. For a nominal fee, participants in the campaign get two Styku scans, weekly newsletters, fitness assessments and health tips. There’s also a raffle with prizes.

Ask your doctor about MedFit

A doctor referral is needed to join the 60-day MedFit program, which includes a fitness assessment, Styku scans, strength and flexibility test and working with a trainer to help you identify workouts and set fitness goals. The cost is $60.

Interested in making a change? The following numbers will get you started:

For the Styku Challenge, call 847-618-3620.
For MedFit, call 847-618-3512.
For the WIN Program, contact 847-618-3625.
Call 847-618-3620 to start a membership today. Learn more about the Wellness Center at