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The New England Journal of Medicine reports on a study of about 200 people who were willing to be weighed throughout the holiday season. The goal was to determine an average of weight gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Many people report gaining weight, but the gain ranges from one to ten pounds, depending on who you ask. This study found its participants only gained an average of about a pound.

However, people who were already overweight gained five or more pounds. Weight gain is often connected to feeling down, low energy, and poor health.

The good news is that there are ways you can have your cake and eat it too. Well, not so much. More like, there are ways you can avoid weight gain while also keep your spirits high during this holiday season.

Keep reading to find out the specific actions you can start taking today. You will be happy to learn these are not drastic changes. They are simple steps you may even want to continue after the holidays.

Make Sleep a Priority

It cannot be stressed enough that getting good sleep is one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy. Sleep is the time your body is restored. Your brain goes to work repairing and healing the parts of your body that are ailing.

This includes physical and mental ailments. Sleep deprivation has a direct connection to weight gain and feeling down. Some even experience depression and anxiety when they chronically get poor sleep.

Your hunger and appetite are regulated by hormones. When you lack good sleep, these hormones do not function correctly. You have probably experienced days where you didn’t get much sleep, and the next day you find yourself craving fast food or junk food more than normal.

In addition, people tend to eat more of the bad foods when needing sleep. Harvard Health reports sleep is imperative to good mental health.

Lack of sleep can lead to disorders such as depression and anxiety because you are prevented from receiving the multiple benefits of cycling through all the stages of sleep. When you get proper sleep, your mood is lifted, you have more energy, and your outlook is brighter.

Balance Your Hormones

When your hormones fluctuate, so can your weight, and so can your mood. The amount of estrogen, your thyroid, insulin, testosterone and progesterone are hormones that can contribute to both weight gain and mood swings.

Imbalanced hormones can make it hard for you to keep your spirits high during the holiday season. Working with a doctor who specializes in hormone balancing will greatly help you learn what you can do to rebalance hormones.

First, they will test and analyze your hormones when needed, they can provide simple hormone replacement therapies. They can even teach you how to balance hormones related to stress, another contributor to weight gain and decreased happiness.

Learn Stress Management

Stress hormones such as cortisol release into the body each time we feel that fight or flight sensation, which signals our body and mind to stress out. Basically, the body produces too much cortisol when you feel stressed.

Your body wants to store the cortisol, and it does so, mostly around your waist. This means your heart and major organs are surrounded by fat. This is dangerous.

Learning stress management techniques like yoga and meditation can help your hormones relax and regulate. Both methods also help you become more mindful of your body’s needs.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply your ability to get in tune with your body, mind and spirit to figure out what needs to be worked on, if anything. By paying attention to all parts of your body, you can know which parts to make a priority. It may be the racing thoughts you need to calm, aches and pains that need treatment, or a spiritual connection to something greater.

Detox Your Body

Sometimes, a fresh start is necessary to get you on the right track to being happy and healthy throughout the holiday season. A diet detox can get rid of toxins in your system, eliminate excess waste, and lose a few pounds. What better way to kick of the season?

Detox diets can lift your mood and help you focus better. You can experience more energy, rather than feeling sluggish or lethargic. Detox diets can help you reset your metabolism. You may even feel so good you want to change your diet during the holidays, maybe longer.

Change Your Diet

Many people detox and feel so great they want to continue their elevated mood and managed weight. They choose to work with their doctor to create a personalized diet plan in which food acts as medicine for your mind and body. You become more mindful of what goes into your body and how that food benefits you physically and mentally.

Get Active

Exercise is of course, a great way to manage weight and improve your mental health. When you exercise, endorphin neurotransmitters tell your body that you feel good, you are happy. Because endorphins reside in both the brain and the gut, it’s extremely important to get enough exercise to help both areas function properly.

Exercise does not have to mean you need to prepare for a marathon. Just a few minutes of exercise every day can make a huge difference in preventing weight gain and lifting spirits. Start with ten minutes of exercise a day. Then increase it to twenty minutes, then thirty, and so on.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, there are even more things you can do to keep your weight down and your spirits lifted during the holiday season. For example, limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Alcohol interferes with good sleep, makes you not want to exercise, affects hormones, and encourages you to make poor food choices.

This holiday season do something different. Be the one at all the holiday gatherings who has the most energy and happiest mood. Have your best season so far.