6 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain From Maria Pontillo, DPT

holiday weight gain maria pontillo fitness expert

Whether you would like to admit it or not, the holiday season, especially in the United States, has been scientifically identified as a critical time period of weight gain for many Americans. Between holiday work parties, family gatherings, trick or treating, Thanksgiving Day festivities, leftovers and holiday baking get togethers, it is the reason millions of Americans find themselves a few pounds heavier in the new year. Instead of following the ‘New Years Resolution’ trend, I challenge you to be proactive about your health and fitness levels by remaining conscious over the holidays. Eating too many sweets combined with a decline in physical activity will only make it impossible to maintain or keep up with your personal fitness goals.

What’s really crazy is the actual statistical data that backs up this holiday weight gain theory. A survey conducted by the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma proved that weight gain is very common among both men and females. Results proved that there was a 0.05 KG body weight increase in 94 participants that were weighed before and after the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Weight gain was even higher in participants classified as overweight or obese compared to those who were not. Overweight participants experienced a 1.0 KG body weight gain compared to a 0.2 KG weight gain in non-obese participants.

Overall, there are several studies that suggest people gain an average of at least one pound during the winter holiday season. Although this may not sound like much, the problem is when this pattern continues for 5 to 15 years. The next thing you know, you may find yourself 20 pounds overweight and overwhelmed with your declining fitness and health levels. It is important that you know weight gain is an epidemic that doesn’t happen overnight, which is why it’s important to be informed on how it happens, and take action to prevent it!

If you’re still not convinced that the holiday season is a time of increased weight gain, another study conducted by the Energy Metabolism Lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston revealed similar results. With almost 200 participants, participants gained on average about .39 KG during the 6-week winter period from Thanksgiving to the New Year. Since this is focusing on the mean, this indicates that quite a few participants gained a significant amount of weight while others gained a small non-significant amount of weight. You want to make sure you aren’t the person who puts on significant weight over the holidays!

So now that you know how likely it is that you gain weight this holiday season, how can you stop it? It’s simple: Devise a written plan that outlines your eating guidelines, exercise routines and ways to combat unhealthy lifestyle habits. Even if you don’t have time for the gym this holiday season, I have a few ideas that you can use to remain healthy and fit through the end of the year! By pushing the excuses aside and mapping out a detailed plan of tactics, you can beat the “sweet season”! Check out the list of helpful tips below and try my bonus 1,000 Rep Total Body Workout that you can easily perform in the comfort of your own home, without any exercise equipment!

TIP #1: Workout the day before and the day after every major holiday — This will help boost your metabolism and level out the lounging and eating that is likely to occur on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day! For those of you who live in Broward county, I invite you to attend a few of my fitness classes at Just Fit Gym and Nova Southeastern Universities RexPlex:

  • On Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28th) from 9AM to 10AM, join me for a fun & festive spin class at Just Fit Gym in Plantation. Simply call 954.584.1081 to RSVP your spot and when you mention my name, only pay $5!

  • On Friday, November 29th from 10AM to 11:30AM, skip the crazy Black Friday shopping and join me for a 90 Minute FitnessXtreme Circuit Blast class at Nova Southeastern University RecPlex. Simply email me at Info@MariaPontillo.com to sign up!

TIP #2: If you are going to have a cheat meal (i.e. holiday sweets or Thanksgiving dinner), make sure the other two meals or snacks you at that day are health conscious. This means stay away from processed foods that contain high levels of sodium or sugar.

TIP #3: Don’t think about working out or eating better, just do it! Half of being fit is a psychological mind game and you can become a master at it. Stop listening to that little voice in your head and stick to your goals!

TIP #4: Make a list of what foods you are going to stay away from over the holiday season. By writing or typing this list out, you will make this disciplinary rule more real!

TIP #5: Have a support team to keep you accountable! This is super important — make sure to tell your family members and loved ones your goals and priorities for the holiday season. This way, they may consider offering healthier dishes at holiday dinners and will help monitor your eating and workout habits!

TIP #6: Workout at home! Again, push aside the excuses and achieve a high-intensity, total-body workout at home! You don’t need a gym membership or equipment to prevent holiday weight gain. Check out my customized 1,000 Rep Total Body Workout listed below and use this two to three times a week at home over the holidays:


– 100 SQUATS







– 100 SIT UPS

– 100 STEP UPS (1-2 FT HIGH)

Remember that I frequently post customized high-intensity workout routines on my social media profiles in an effort to cater to those who commonly struggle to workout on their own. If you think the 1,000 Rep Total Body Workout is challenging, you should try one of my customized Virtual Workout Sessions coming THIS December! I am currently in the middle of wrapping up my Fall Fitness Virtual Training Program but make sure to look out for announcements on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages for a new Holiday Virtual Training Program with awesome specials! If you would like to be added to my email blast list, email me your full name and telephone number to Info@MariaPontillo.com.


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