Each year around this time, memberships to health clubs soar, subscriptions to diet companies increase, and plastic surgeons' phones start ringing with requests and information about liposuction! Yes, the post holiday blues come into full swing with the primary symptom: weight gain. The annual combination of holiday partying, rich foods, and trips to the gym replaced by trips to the mall result in that 5 to 15 pound weight gain that seems to sneak up on each of us! Options to deal with it include camouflage with bulky winter clothing (useful only until spring), diet with or without exercise, or the seemingly easiest fix, liposuction!

So, what is the best solution to trim that excess holiday pudge? The short answer, not liposuction! It's a surprising answer coming from a plastic surgeon, but believe it or not, liposuction is not a weight loss tool. It is most effective for removing well defined, troublesome areas of fat unaffected by diet and exercise. It is also a surgical procedure, requiring anesthesia and recovery, not to be taken lightly.

A reasonably healthy diet combined with a solid workout routine is an extremely effective protocol for losing weight recently gained during the holidays. A weight loss goal of 5 to 15 pounds is not nearly as daunting nor lengthy as losing say 30 to 40 pounds (which is the subject of another article!). The keys to success start with your diet. Steer clear of radical fad diets that produce quick results that don't last. Instead, choose healthy, successful alternatives listed below.

1) Eliminate unhealthy fat intake.

Avoid margarine, deep fried foods and foods with trans-fat and saturated fat.

2) Increase your intake of monounsaturated oils.

Use extra virgin olive oil, walnut, canola or flaxseed oils.

3) Eliminate the unhealthy "white carbohydrates."

Avoid refined flours, sugars, white rice and foods high on glycemic index.

4) Eat plenty of whole grains.

Brown rice and bulgur wheat are great examples.

5) Avoid refined and processed foods.

6) Include plenty of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.

Blueberries, strawberries and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.

7) Eat lean protein sources like chicken and fish.

Reduce red meat and avoid full fat dairy products.

8) Combine cardio workouts with light weight training.

Start slowly to avoid injury or exhaustion preventing abandonment of your routine.

9) If financially feasible, hire a certified personal trainer.

At least at the beginning, to teach you a practical routine that is safe and easy to follow. This will allow you to stick to the exercise regimen and succeed.

Check with your doctor to be certain that the diet and exercise routine is safe for you.