Join the healthy holiday challenge


It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for overindulging in festive holiday meals and treats.

This holiday season, the only thing that should be stuffed is the turkey. Many Americans gain between 1 and 5 pounds throughout November and December. While it might not sound like much, most people never manage to lose those extra pounds.

The public is invited to join the 15th annual online “Eat Smart, Move More… Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge.” Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, this free seven-week challenge provides strategies and resources to help maintain weight throughout the holiday season.

The holiday challenge will begin Nov. 14 and run through Dec. 31. Now is the time to encourage your friends and family to join the challenge with you because having a support system can make all the difference.

All materials for the challenge will be delivered directly to your inbox when the program begins. In past years, the participants who stayed active in the challenge were more likely to maintain or lose weight.

Participants will receive weekly newsletters, weekly challenges, healthy recipes, daily tips, access to a private Facebook group and other tools and resources.

Tips will have helpful hints for surviving a holiday party, managing holiday stress, staying active during the winter and more.

Tools and resources include downloadable Holiday Challenge tracking logs to check and record weight each week of the challenge and measure progress from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, and a worksite guide also is available to help implement the Holiday Challenge in the workplace setting.

Other resources include the downloadable Cook This, Buy That meal planner and shopping list to make meal planning easier.

Social support will be available on the private Facebook community and general Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. There’s a Holiday Challenge blog to follow for motivation and inspiration, too.

In 2021, more than 47,600 people from around the world participated, and 1,356 of those were Hoosiers.

According to, at the end of last year’s Holiday Challenge, 92% of the participants maintained or lost weight, 70% maintained their weight, 16% lost 3 to 5 pounds, 6% lost more than 5 pounds, 7% gained 3 to 5 pounds and 1% gained more than 5 pounds.

Gary, a 2021 Holiday Challenge participant, said, “I was able to enjoy the holidays with healthy eating and fun exercise (walking and hiking). I actually lost 1 pound, which makes this the first holiday I haven’t gained weight in 20 years.”

Teressa, another 2021 Holiday Challenge participant, said she loves to bake, and they typically eat a lot with family around the holidays.

“I signed up in hopes that I’d maintain my weight, but I actually lost 4 pounds,” she said. “It made me more aware of how much I was snacking.”

Simply cutting back on snacking made such a difference for how Teressa felt, and she is going to do her best to continue this into the new year, she said.

The Holiday Challenge is provided by Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less and Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes, partnership programs between North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

Register online at

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