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Do you GAIN weight during the holidays?

It is a common idea that people gain weight during the holiday season, and a typical excuse for doing so.

What kind of things do you tell yourself?

"I am expected to eat this fudge, cake, pie, grandmas-cookies, holiday-fare, what-have-you, so it's not MY fault that I gain 5-10-15 pounds this holiday season."  (Lies.)

"Everyone WANTS my special holiday candy that I make every year.  I have to make it."  (Bull.)

"I HAVE to cook the pies, holiday breads, sugar cookies, church pot luck foods, party foods, etc, so you can't blame me for gaining."  (LIIIIIES.)

"This candy is only available during this season, I have to buy it and eat it now, or I won't get it."  (Get. OVER. It.)

First thing I need to tell you?  Your pies?  Kind of suck.  Nobody really likes them.  We eat them because you make them, and don't want to make you feel bad because they were left untouched.  Nobody really likes the pies anyway. 

Turns out, that unless you really go overboard -- the caloric damage done in the holiday season is about a pound.

Oh.  Not. a. big. deal. at. all.  So why are we making up so many justifications for excess in the season of excess?  Just... because we can?

I guess that might be good enough reason for some.

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I am not willing to take on a liquid diet, diet pills, snort energy powder, or spend hour upon hour in the gym on January 1st to rationalize my baklava habit or 96 ounce bag of M + M's for the next four weeks.   (Which, by the way, isn't happening.)

Thanks, but no thanks.  I had weight loss surgery to AVOID fad diets, crash diets and beyond.

I can handle a pound of weight gain.  I can do that in two hours.  I have bowels of steel.  RAWR.

Washington Post-

A classic study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, despite some pretty big claims about weight gain, the average American gains less than a pound during the holiday season. 

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health had seen claims on the news that the average American would gain somewhere between eight and 10 pounds during the holidays. Studies that rely on self-reporting find Americans estimating they gain five pounds during the time period.

The researchers decided to investigate, recruiting 200 people between ages 19 and 82. The sample was representative of the United States in terms of the prevalence of overweight and obese individuals. 

The individuals came in to be weighed in September or October, and then again in February or March. The reserachers found that, on average, the participants gained .37 kilograms, or 0.81 pounds. 

“The subjects believed they had gained four times as much weight as their actual holiday weight gain of 0.37 kg,” the researchers conclude. “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.”

N Engl J Med. 2000 Mar 23;342(12):861-7.
A prospective study of holiday weight gain.


It is commonly asserted that the average American gains 5 lb (2.3 kg) or more over the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, yet few data support this statement.


To estimate actual holiday-related weight variation, we measured body weight in a convenience sample of 195 adults. The subjects were weighed four times at intervals of six to eight weeks, so that weight change was determined for three periods: preholiday (from late September or early October to mid-November), holiday (from mid-November to early or mid-January), and postholiday (from early or mid-January to late February or early March). A final measurement of body weight was obtained in 165 subjects the following September or October. Data on other vital signs and self-reported health measures were obtained from the patients in order to mask the main outcome of interest.


The mean (+/-SD) weight increased significantly during the holiday period (gain, 0.37+/-1.52 kg; P<0.001), but not during the preholiday period (gain, 0.18+/-1.49 kg; P=0.09) or the postholiday period (loss, 0.07+/-1.14 kg; P=0.36). As compared with their weight in late September or early October, the study subjects had an average net weight gain of 0.48+/-2.22 kg in late February or March (P=0.003). Between February or March and the next September or early October, there was no significant additional change in weight (gain, 0.21 kg+/-2.3 kg; P=0.13) for the 165 participants who returned for follow-up.


The average holiday weight gain is less than commonly asserted. Since this gain is not reversed during the spring or summer months, the net 0.48-kg weight gain in the fall and winter probably contributes to the increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood.


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