The winter holidays can create an overwhelming sense of anxiety about our weight that casts a wide shadow over the coming months. A common question we might ask ourselves is, “How will I feel in January when I show up to work again?” Here is a no nonsense approach to the New Year for managing your health while getting back to your base weight after indulgence during the holidays.
1. Know your numbers:
If you know your “numbers”, you will be able to bounce back to your pre-holiday weight pretty fast, so long as your body is within 10% of its current state. Your body has an internal memory for metabolism and can maintain that rate as long as you do not push it too hard. So what should your numbers be? The easiest way to track your weight is via the body mass index or BMI. To stay healthy most studies indicate keeping your BMI under 30. For example, I am six feet tall and weigh 190 pounds , which puts my BMI at 25.8, right under the borderline range of normal to overweight. If you find yourself inching up closer to the obesity category with a BMI above 30, you will need to engage in an active exercise plan to get to a healthier weight.
2. Numbers don’t lie:
The great thing about proactively tracking your BMI, is that you can get a clear sense of your plan during the holiday season. If your BMI is currently less than 25, you do not have as much to worry about since your body’s weight is in the correct range and can more easily bounce back after New Year’s. If your BMI is higher than 25, it will be best for you to come up with a plan of action; enjoy the holidays but be safe and keep track of what you consume since you will most likely have to increase your metabolism to make up for it in January. The formula here is pretty simple; for each pound that you want to lose after the holidays, you must exercise to burn an additional 500 calories per day, totaling 3,500 calories per week, which in turn equals one pound of weight loss per week.
3. Numbers in should equal numbers out
As you begin to track your outcome in January, remember that to get back to your baseline you need to spend as much energy as you consumed by enjoying all those tasty chocolates and glasses of champagne. For example, if you have gained five pounds in two weeks you will need to expend 5 x 3,500 calories or 17,500 calories to get back to your baseline. Studies show that the best way to maintain your diet and have a smooth re-entry to your previous weight is to lose it slowly, not crash diet, so that your metabolism has time to adjust. That is why burning 500 calories a day, which is equivalent to running for 45 minutes or rowing for 15 minutes, can bring you back to baseline within six weeks. You can expedite weight loss by changing your usual diet and also cutting back on calories that you would normally eat in order to decrease your caloric intake.
4. What if the numbers don’t add up?
There are some of you that despite the best of intentions do not quite make it back to your pre-holiday baseline. This may be due to age, which causes lowering of the metabolism or a genetic predisposition that stores fat in certain body parts causing saddle bags and love handles. In scenarios where you are within 10% of your ideal body weight, fat-removal procedures are available that are best done by an experienced plastic surgeon. These can include non-surgical approaches such as CoolSculpting™ that essentially freezes body fat so that your body can eliminate it from the unwanted area or Vaser, which uses ultrasound energy to break up the fat cells for controlled elimination from the body. You have to be seen by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon (they are available on www.plasticsurgery.org) to make sure you are a good candidate for these procedures only after you have done your part to get back or improve on your baseline BMI. Either way, don’t sweat it (no pun intended) as you have plenty of time to prepare for that gorgeous bikini on the beach next summer.
Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh serves on the Medical Advisory board at Healthination, is the President of Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, providing excellence in plastic surgery since 1948, Chairman, Mission: Restore; Bringing volunteer medical relief to the world’s forgotten patients.