Weber State University has issued a challenge to its employees to maintain or lose weight this holiday season.

The challenge is to keep from gaining holiday weight by being mindful of what the body wants and needs during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Other goals in order to stay well this holiday season are completing physical activities, gaining nutrition, maintaining mental health and getting enough sleep over the course of the program.

WSU’s Employee Wellness Coordinator, Rachel Smith, said this is the second year this challenge has been issued. Last year, 47 employees accepted the challenge, but only 27 of these employees were able to maintain their weight through the holiday season.

“I am really big on intuitive eating. It is important to be aware of what you are eating,” Smith said. “It is really important for us to listen to our bodies.”

A study from The New England Journal of Medicine shows that the average weight gain over the holidays is only one pound. The bad news is that most people don’t ever lose that one pound, and people who are already overweight tend to gain a lot more.

Some WSU students said they don’t have a problem with holiday weight gain.

“I am not worried about gaining weight,” said WSU student Lynn Jones. “I don’t like holiday food.”

According to the study, Jones is the exception to the rule. Most people do have a problem during the holidays.

“I need to lose weight, but I don’t care about it,” said WSU student Dennis Williams.

For those students who do worry about holiday weight gain, Nicole Nichols, fitness instructor and health educator, gave these tips to maintain weight through the holidays.

Nichols said to track food. She said that means all of it, from the spoonful of cookie batter eaten while baking, to the free sample of ham at the grocery store. These hidden calories are easy to gloss over, but can really add up, she said.

She also said to make fitness a priority. She said to schedule workouts like an appointment. She said people wouldn’t miss work, a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting to bake cookies or do some holiday shopping, so they shouldn’t for a workout. Nichols said to add workouts to a calendar so that other obligations don’t get in the way of gym time.

According to Nichols, another tip to maintaining weight gain is to limit alcohol.

She said to re-gift treats and food. Of course, she said, loved ones mean well when they give out delicious food and candy gifts. But just because they give them, she said, does not mean people have to eat them.

She also said to watch portions since there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some once-a-year favorites, if they are kept in check.

Nichols said to focus on people at parties and gatherings and enjoy the good conversation and activities instead of hovering around the food table.

She also said to not act as if it’s the only chance to eat. With every food that crosses people’s path, they need to remind themselves that they’ll have plenty of chances to eat later, she said. She said to forgo the Last Supper mentality.

Finally, Nichols said to slow down and savor food and the experience of eating. She said people will eat less, feel more satisfied and recognize feelings of hunger before it’s too late.

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