Dropping extra pounds can be tough enough. Add frigid temps and extra merrymaking to the task and it can feel even more challenging. But don’t let the dog days of winter derail your diet. Committing to a program like Nutrisystem can keep you on track with your weight loss goals. We’ve rounded up 10 simple, Nutrisystem-approved tips to help you lose weight this December.
Here are 10 tips to help you drop pounds this December:
If you take a look at the average seasonal latte from a popular coffeehouse, a large size topped with whipped cream can contain almost 500 calories and high amounts of sugar. As much as you enjoy a hot coffee on a cool morning, those fancy brews and other sugar-sweetened beverages (like sodas and flavored fruit drinks) are no good for your waistline.
Research, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that regularly consuming sugar-sweetened drinks is linked to weight gain and obesity. Unsweetened tea and coffee are your healthiest options. If you like some extra flavor, add a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin spice to plain coffee, stick to skim (not whole milk) and skip the whipped cream.
Eating an abundance of non-starchy vegetables is an important part of your Nutrisystem program. They offer vitamins and minerals and are also low in calories and high in fiber to help you feel fuller, longer. But sometimes the mere thought of shredding a carrot or cutting up greens makes you tired. Enter your new kitchen BFFs: with the push of a button or turn of a crank, you can slice, chop or create pasta-like noodles with minimal effort.
Check out these must-try veggie noodle dishes! >
Sure, it’s warmer than pounding the pavement outdoors. But there are many other reasons to hit the mall in December when you want to walk for exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mall walking as an alternative way to increase physical activity. According to Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, the mall is the second most popular place to walk after neighborhoods. They explain that the mall is free (if you stick to window shopping) and convenient in that you can walk any time the mall is open. The ground is flat, there is good lighting and benches are available for relaxing. There’s also easy access to bathrooms and water fountains. Plus, there’s no pressure to compete or keep up, like there might be at the gym or on a track.
Here are more creative ways to meet your step goals this winter >
If a gym membership is too much for your budget in December, invest in a few pieces of strength training equipment you can use at home—like dumbbells or resistance bands. According to Mayo Clinic, lean muscle mass decreases as you age, leading to an increase in body fat percentage. However, they explain that strength training and lifting weights can help build and preserve muscle and increase your metabolism.
It may not be the easiest of tasks around the holidays. However, it’s most definitely worth the effort. Stress affects everything—your health, your mood and your behavior, says Mayo Clinic. Recent research also indicates that it can impact your weight. A study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggests that stress can slow the metabolism. According to Harvard Health, stress can also increase hormones that stimulate appetite and alter food cravings to be higher in sugar and fat.
Learn how to ditch holiday stress >
Nothing says December like a hot bowl of hearty soup. According to Eurekalert.org, researchers at Penn State University found that consuming low-calorie soup prior to a meal can decrease the number of total calories you consume at that meal. They discovered that people who opt for this cold-weather favorite as a first course consumed 20 percent fewer calories at lunch, compared to when they had the same meal without the soup appetizer.
Try one of these tasty, Nutrisystem-approved soup recipes >
Of all the tempting finger foods at your next holiday party, chips are the ones to avoid. A study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that these fried slices were “strongly associated” with weight gain. And if that’s not reason enough, chips and other deep-fried foods are typically loaded with unhealthy fats and other ingredients.
Get the salt and crunch you crave while staying on plan with these healthier veggie chips! >
This one applies in the summer, spring and fall, too: If you slow down during a meal, it gives your brain time to receive the “I’m full” signals from your stomach, says Harvard Health. Scarf it down and it’s much easier to eat more than your body really needs. One review of research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that eating fast “is positively associated with excess body weight.”
Learn more about how slow eating can lead to weight loss >
The arrival of December weather might seem like the arrival of unwanted pounds. However, research suggests that cold temps could promote the formation of brown fat cells—the kind of fat in our bodies that burns calories to generate heat, says Business Insider. White fat cells, on the other hand, store energy and contribute to “dangerous excess body fat.” In one in vitro study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists found that at lower temperatures, stem cells formed brown fat instead of white fat.
As good as that show is, set your TV to turn off after one episode—for two reasons. First, lack of sleep is linked to metabolism changes and obesity, says Mayo Clinic. They explain that it may increase your hunger and appetite, while decreasing your odds of exercise. Plus, falling asleep with the TV on may also increase your risk of weight gain. A study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that exposure to artificial light at night is associated with the development of obesity.