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Healthy Holidays from The Weight and Wellness Institute – Dr. Vincent Pera

by Dr. Vincent Pera – and team members, The Weight and Wellness Institute, Cranston

Weight control, wellness and improving health are for many a lifelong endeavor that can require discipline, motivation and sacrifice. The holiday season brings along a new level of challenges sometimes making it more difficult to succeed with this endeavor. Limiting high calorie foods that are special and made only during the holiday season becomes a greater challenge. Festive gatherings with many offerings of food and drink test our willpower and can result in excess caloric intake. The busy schedule of the holidays makes it more difficult to take the time to continue exercise routines and eat healthy planned meals.

It is not surprising that the holiday season often results in falling off the wagon of our healthy routines and typically experiencing some weight gain. The new year is then often started with a desire to recommit to a healthier lifestyle and a desire to lose weight.

The Weight and Wellness Institute is a new facility now open in Cranston whose mission is to help our community and state lose weight and create a healthy lifestyle. The Institute has a team of professionals including behaviorists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, bariatric physicians, psychiatrists, nurses and trainers who work to create customized weight management interventions. Our programs are designed ranging for those needing to lose 15-20 pounds, to wishing to improve their health, to those needing to lose well over 100 pounds having serious medical conditions such as diabetes, and others.

Optifast supplements and bariatric medications may be used and most of the treatment may be covered by insurance. Does it surprise you to know that Americans spent $33 Billion dollars on diet programs in 2021?

During the pandemic, many people who were never concerned with their weight found themselves struggling to lose those extra pounds. Even losing 5-10 extra pounds and keeping it off is no easy task, so it is no wonder that many of us will try just about anything to lose weight.

In spite of the exciting headlines about “breakthroughs” in the treatment of obesity, there is no magic pill that gets the weight off and keeps it off. All weight loss efforts, including bariatric surgery require that we make and sustain significant changes to our food intake, exercise, and relationship with food.

At The Institute for Weight and Wellness, our patients learn about healthy eating, the importance of regular lifestyle activities, and using their thoughts and behaviors about food to help them reach their goals. This involves challenging many of their old habits and ways of thinking. During the active weight loss stage, patients follow a limited eating plan, establish an exercise routine, and learn to use their thoughts and behaviors around food in a way that supports their goals. This behavioral approach involves mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral interventions, reducing the frequency of emotional/stress eating and being kind to themselves when they have a slip.

Our patients often say, “losing weight was easy; it’s the keeping it off that is really hard to do”. This is the nature of obesity and initially weight management does take a lot of time, effort and dedication. In fact, successful weight loss and maintenance is similar to learning any new skill, like playing tennis or speaking a new language. You must put the time into it, practice, practice, practice and eventually new habits around food choices, activity and your relationship with food become second nature. There will be ups and downs and setbacks but paying attention to these new habits can become the cornerstone of a stable weight and peaceful relationship with food.

This time of year, the winter chill and holiday season can create additional potential barriers when it comes to staying consistent with your regular exercise routine. One of the biggest barriers to be reported is “lack of time”. The American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults without major medical limitations (18-65 years of age) should participate in moderate intensity aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days a week. They also recommend that adults should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of 2 days a week. The idea behind winter exercise is to make it convenient, and most importantly, fun!

Below are five tips to stay fit and active this winter while having fun doing it!

● Check out a local gym that is conveniently located to home and/or work. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free trial pass. Most gyms will let you trial their facility before you sign a contract.

● Use technology to exercise. Take out those smart devices and download a new exercise application. Did you know there are about 1,000 health and fitness related applications out there?

● Go for a walk inside!

o Use your office building for a nice stroll during a lunch break. Maybe even climb some stairs.

o Take a trip to the mall, supermarket, or any warehouse type store. These places tend to have controlled temperatures and comfortable surfaces to walk on (decrease your risk of falling on ice outside)

● Try an exercise video, YouTube, or On-Demand Fitness videos. Exercise in front of your TV/phone/computer in the comfort of your own home.

● Track your steps. Are you getting 10,000 steps a day? Pedometers and electronic activity trackers are great ways to monitor activity from day to day.

o Don’t forget, if you have a smart phone, it’s most likely counting your steps each day!

Remember, it is always important to obtain your health care provider’s input regarding the safety and appropriateness of your exercise program.

At The Weight and Wellness Institute we are a multidisciplinary team that works together to create a coordinated effective program for our patients. Our goal is to empower our patients with education on managing with confidence social functions at any time but particularly at the Holidays. Holidays span a few weeks of parties and dining out festivities.

To minimize caloric intake during Holiday time here are some practical pointers:

Planning ahead for extra calorie exposure by…

Banking calories throughout the week before the event. It is not recommended to skip meals before the events and indulge at them. Rather if one cuts out 100 calories each day for 5 days, on the sixth day add those 500 calories to the holiday functions.

Banking activity. The average person will burn about 100 calories walking a mile, therefore add a mile for 5 days for an additional 500 Calories to have for functions.

Learn the caloric value of common holiday foods.

Below is a sample of average calories of common foods:

Food Calories

Six hot hors d’oeuvres – 500

1 glass (6 oz) of eggnog – 300

5 potato chips with dip – 130

1 oz 1” by 1” cube of cheese – 100

1 large truffle – 110

1 small piece of fudge – 150

1 oz (¼ cup) nuts – 200-300

1 small candy cane – 25

½ deviled egg – 75

1 slice of cheesecake – 600

While you are baking:

1 bite of a cookie dough – 50

A cookie that did not fit in a tin – 150

1 Tbsp. frosting – 50


Choose from veggie platters and lean proteins.

Consider bringing a veggie platter to a function.

Opt for sugar-free, non-alcoholic beverages, sparkling water with lime or lemon served in a wine glass.

Making informed mindful choices during this time can go a long way managing calorie intake, feeling well and maintaining your weight. The new year is rapidly approaching, and this is now a good time to assess health status, weight and goals for the future. The winter is a great time to embark upon a weight management intervention that will improve health, improve weight related medical conditions and result in greater self-esteem, overall feeling more confident and feeling happier and healthier.

The Weight and Wellness Institute is ready to help improve your weight, health, and wellbeing.

For any questions and for more information please call (401)-895-9937. Or click on the logo, below:

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and a happy and healthy 2023!

Contributors to this article…

Vincent Pera, MD

Chief of Weight and Wellness and Director, The Weight and Wellness Institute

Diplomate, The American Board of Bariatric Medicine

Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Camille Gregorian, LICSW, Behaviorist, The Weight and Wellness Institute

Theresa Jerominek, MS, RDN, LDN, CDOE, CVDOE, Nutritionist, The Weight and Wellness Institute

Arianna Centonze , BS, Director, Exercise Physiology, The Weight and Wellness institute