Plan ahead to prevent holiday weight gain

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COLUMBIA — Researchers at the University of Missouri are advising people to make sure they keep exercising in order to avoid holiday weight gain.

"It is absolutely possible to avoid weight gain during the holidays by paying attention to calories in and calories out,” said Steve Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology. "The key to exercise is consistency and too often ‘life’ just gets in the way, especially around the holidays. Exercise is tough enough, but throw in barriers like traveling, weather and lack of facilities, and it becomes quite easy to take a long break or quit altogether."

The researchers gave the following tips to help people stay on track during the holidays:

1. Don't skip exercise.

2. Plan exercise in advance when traveling. Anticipate barriers to normal exercise plans.

3. Be aware of how much you're eating, and understand you can "out eat" exercise.

“I would rather see people focus on the process, in this case exercise or activity, and not necessarily the product, in this case weight gain or loss. Saying you will exercise a set number of times per week is a better and more achievable goal than losing a target number of pounds,” Ball said.