We spoke with the trainer, TV personality and entrepreneur on how to prevent gaining weight during the holiday season—while still enjoying a cookie or two!

Lauren Wicks
December 02, 2019

The holiday season is infamous for also being a season of weight gain. After beautiful weather reigns supreme through the fall, the chill starts to settle in and it becomes harder to get up for your morning workout. And to top it all off, you are likely surrounded by cocktails, cookies and other seasonal treats. But Jillian Michaels says these things are no excuse for letting your weight creep up more than a pound or two.

"How many days are you really going to get your party on?" Michaels says. "I'll give you Halloween, Thanksgiving, two days for Christmas or Hanukkah, your company's holiday party and New Year's Eve. That's just six days."

Related: The 4 Things Jillian Michaels Eats Every Day—Plus 3 She Avoids

Michaels explains that eating a surplus of 800 calories for cocktails, finger foods and desserts should only add up to two pounds gained over the holiday season for the six days allotted. But even then, she says that small weight gain isn't necessary if you don't want it to be.

"If I have a party, I'll just eat a little lighter in the day," Michaels says. "Just seek to find the balance. That can mean going an extra 10 minutes on the elliptical on days you know you're going to eat a little more or practicing the 80/20 rule."

The 80/20 rule means making 80% of your caloric intake from healthy, nourishing foods, like produce, whole grains, lean meats, beans and other whole foods. The remaining 20% of your calories can be used for your favorite treats, like eggnog or a Christmas cookie.

Related: Jillian Michaels Says Restrictive Diets Are "Never Necessary"

"Calories are like money," Michaels says. "You don't buy something nice every single day. Just have one cookie at the party or one glass of wine, and you'll be fine."

Michaels says it's important to find balance this time of year, as choosing to skip parties in order to avoid being around tempting foods or scheduling a juice cleanse after the holidays can be just as damaging for your weight goals.

"As far as the pendulum swing goes one way, it'll go the other," she says. "Trying to detox or go on a crazy diet signals your metabolism that you're starving, messing with hormones like HGH, cortisol and thyroid regulators, that could all make you hold more weight."

She says reaching ketosis (the goal for those on the ketogenic diet), for example, actually "signals to your body that it's in a state of emergency, taxing your liver, thyroid and kidneys." As the case with most diets, what quick weight you may lose in the first few weeks can creep back on—and then some—if it's too restrictive.

Related: This Is What Happens to Your Brain on a Diet

Michaels advises finding the middle of the pendulum by moving four times a week for 20-30 minutes—however you can squeeze it in this time of year—along with practicing the 80/20 rule. Additionally, she reminds us to take some of this much-needed time off many of us do have from work to exercise, cook healthy food, get adequate sleep and reduce stress. Even if that means scheduling some "me time" or an early bedtime in your planner, it's important to make time to enjoy your holiday season, too. Reducing stress and getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night can actually help you manage your weight or shed a few pounds.

Michaels has her own app, My Fitness App with Jillian Michaels, to help give you a jumpstart to staying on track this holiday season. Whether you're looking for a custom meal plan, a quick and effective workout or a community to support you, this is a great resource for those who aren't looking to gain holiday weight but aren't sure where to start.

Related: How to Beat Winter Weight Gain

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