Maintain, Don’t Gain This Holiday Season

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Eat Smart, Move More... Maintain, don't gain! Holiday Challlenge

This holiday season, the only thing that should be “stuffed” is the turkey. Many Americans gain between one and five pounds each year between Thanksgiving and the New Year. While this might not sound like much, this weight gain accounts for 51% of people’s weight gain for the whole year. The problem is most people never manage to lose those extra pounds and year-after-year it adds up.

North Carolina State University and N.C. Cooperative Extension are offering some help to prevent this annual problem. It’s all virtual and you can participate on your computer or cell phone. Best of all, it’s FREE. It’s the Eat Smart, Move More, Maintain, Don’t gain! Holiday Challenge. Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, this challenge offers strategies and resources to help maintain your weight throughout the holiday season.

This is the 15th year the Holiday Challenge has been offered. Any adult over 18 years of age with a valid email address can join. The challenge starts on November 15, so sign up now to get in on the first week’s lesson. The 2021 Holiday Challenge officially runs through December 31 and you can sign up anytime between now and the end of the year.

You're Invited! Join us for the 15th annual Holiday Challenge

As in the past, this year’s program features: weekly newsletters, healthy holiday recipes, quick daily tips and weekly challenges. These will all be delivered to your email inbox. Topics discussed include how to survive a holiday party, manage holiday stress, and staying active during the winter. There are also downloadable tools you can use such as weight logs, food, and activity journals.

There is additional support through social media if you like. You can share your progress through a private Facebook Community. There will be recipes and tips on Pinterest. Holiday Challenge tips and updates can also be found on Twitter and Instagram. You can participate as little or as much as you would like to. The past years have shown that the more people participate, the more likely they are to maintain or lose weight.

The 2020 Holiday Challenge was the largest and most successful since the program began in 2006. Over 44,670 people from all 50 states, residents from all 100 North Carolina counties and 33 additional countries participated in last year’s on-line Holiday Challenge. In 2020 Brunswick County had 151 participants, maybe we can increase that number and be in the top ten this year. 

Evaluations from past years show that the program works! When asked, 92% of last year’s participants reported they were able to maintain or lose weight during the Holiday Challenge. Some folks (21%) actually lost weight during this time!

You can sign up online at and enter your email address. All personal information and addresses will be kept confidential. While you’re at the website, check out all the other wonderful tools and information available from the Eat Smart, Move More NC team. 

The Challenge is provided by Eat Smart, Move, More Weigh Less and Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes, partnership programs between NC State University and the NC Division of Public Health. These programs are part of Eat Smart, Move More NC, a statewide program working to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities wherever North Carolinians live, learn, earn, play, and pray. Locally, N.C. Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County is a partner in this program. 

The Holiday Challenge is open to everyone – those with a few pounds to lose or those already at a healthy weight and just want to stay there. We are all in this together, let’s maintain and not gain this year!

Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at