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In Treatment: How to Lose Holiday Weight Without Dieting

What’s the healthiest way to lose your holiday weight? We asked our panel of Canadian health experts – a fitness instructor, a dietician, and a doctor – to find out.

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“I’m looking to lose some of my holiday weight, but dieting doesn’t do it for me. What are my options?” – Martha Buchanan, Winnipeg.

1. Exercise

Amanda Vogel, Fitness Instructor: If you’re not already exercising, that’s a good place to start. Try 20 minutes of brisk walking – on a treadmill or outdoors – three to four days a week. After about two weeks, ratchet up your calorie burn with up to five 30-minute workouts a week.

Setting aside another 10 to 20 minutes two to three times a week for toning exercises will strengthen your muscles and bones. Target your arms, legs and torso with dumbbells, a resistance tube or your own body weight.

Staying consistent and progressing toward more intense and varied exercises will help you work out harder over time, leading to greater weight loss when combined with eating well.

(Photo: George Doyle/Comstock/Thinkstock)

Each medical situation is unique. Be sure to consult your physician about the specifics of your condition.

Amanda Vogel, MA human kinetics, is a Vancouver-based certified fitness instructor and author of numerous books, including Baby Boot Camp: The 9-Minute Fitness Solution.

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2. Make Healthier Food Choices

2. Make Healthier Food Choices

Dr. Zoltan Rona, MD
: When it comes to losing weight, forget about quick fixes. Instead, make healthier food choices a habit by selecting mostly fresh organic foods with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. A regular fitness program, stress reduction and adequate sleep – which affects ghrelin, the hormone that regulates hunger – are also important.

To speed up weight loss, optimize the metabolism- and fullness-regulating hormones insulin and leptin by eliminating foods high in sugar as well as gluten-rich simple carbs. That means avoiding breads, pastas, cereals and baked goods.

Next, focus on curbing cravings and keeping your appetite in check by drinking plenty of water instead of fruit juices, diet pop or alcohol.

If you’ve implemented these tips simultaneously and your body is still holding on to stubborn fat, vitamin D deficiencies could be to blame, so get your blood levels checked. If you end up needing a supplement, omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish, seafood, algae, flax or hemp can help boost the vitamin’s benefits.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Dr. Zoltan Rona, MD, practices complementary medicine in Toronto, edits The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and is the author of the bestseller Return to the Joy of Health.

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3. Fix Your Hormone Levels

3. Fix Your Hormone Levels

Julie Daniluk, Nutritionist: If you’re dieting and not seeing results, you may be dealing with a hormonal imbalance.

When we’re stressed, our cortisol and insulin levels shoot up, causing cells to store nutrients, one of which is fat. Increasing insulin receptivity through diet will reverse the hormone’s resistance and aid you in your weight-loss efforts. To do this, load up on vitamin B-rich foods, such as green beans, dark leafy vegetables and nutritional yeast, and search out the stress-reducing minerals magnesium and chromium, found in almonds and seafood, respectively.

Estrogen, when not balanced with the appropriate amount of progesterone, can also lead to excess pounds. Add kale, broccoli or bok choy to your diet to reduce amounts of the hormone naturally.

Another common weight-gain culprit is low thyroid function. Ask your doctor about a screening. If your thyroid is to blame, iodine-rich seaweed, selenium-rich Brazil nuts and shiitake mushrooms have been found to help.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Toronto-based certified nutritionist Julie Daniluk co-hosts the reality cooking show Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network and recently published her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation.

Have a question for our panel of experts? Email it to [email protected] and it could be answered in a future issue of Reader’s Digest Canada.