Just Because it’s the Holidays Doesn’t Mean You have to Gain Weight
Have you ever approached the holidays with this thought in mind? “Aw, it’s the holiday season. It’s time to enjoy the food and goodies that only come once a year. I’ll just lose the weight afterward.” I certainly have. The trouble is, that holiday weight seemed to be a lot longer in leaving than it was in coming!
I have a new mindset this year:”It’s the holidays. It doesn’t mean I have to go all-out with my eating and gain weight. Instead, I’m going to maintain my weight during this time like I do the rest of the year.” With this new resolve in mind, the ever-practical and list-oriented me has a plan of action for making sure I follow through (I’ll let you all know how I did on New Year’s Day).
Action Plan Step #1. It all starts with my mind. I can either give myself permission to binge during the weeks of Thanksgiving through New Year’s or I can gently encourage myself to eat as I normally would, and by so doing, keep the weight off. As simplistic as it seems, many of us with all-or-nothing personalities tend to go into all-or-nothing mode when it comes to this time of year, and how we approach it mentally is half our battle.
Action Plan Step #2. Water is my key weapon. Many times I think I’m hungry, but really I’m just thirsty. I’ve gotten into a habit of drinking water between meals and the amount of snacking I’ve done has been amazing; it has decreased significantly. I’ll drink the same amount of water I have been drinking all along, which always contributes to me feeling more satiated between and at meals. It also helps my body flush out unwanted toxins and fat.
Action Plan Step #3. I’m going to get adequate sleep. The less sleep I get, the more exhausted I am. The more exhausted I am, the more I could care less about eating right. Just the opposite, in fact. When I’m tired, I eat all sorts of food that I’m not really hungry for, in an attempt to keep up my energy. This usually involves sugary foods, and since it’s the holidays, unfortunately, this kind of food is going to be a lot more accessible to me.
Action Plan Step #4. I will continue getting some form of daily exercise. This always re-centers me and re-focuses me. When I’m centered, I feel less of a tendency to snack when I’m not hungry. I’m calm and I don’t need food to make me feel better.
Action Plan Step #5. When I’m out holiday shopping and I stop at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, I’ll ask for skim milk in my specialty coffee and have them hold the whipped cream. Doing this will save me a lot of unnecessary calories and my coffee really won’t taste any different.
Action Plan Step #6. I’ll stick with my healthy eating style and save the more “unhealthy” foods for the parties and family visits. At home I’m going to focus on salads and fresh fruits and vegetables, along with my whole grains and seeds and nuts. I may not have those options when away from home, but I can at least stick with them at home! (Not to mention, the healthier I eat, the less I want sweet foods. They taste good at first, but very quickly they become too sweet and I don’t eat as much as I once used to when my body was addicted to sugar).
Action Plan Step #7. When I’m away from my home, at those holiday gatherings with friends and family, I will allow myself to splurge on foods I don’t usually eat. If I adopt an all-or-nothing attitude, I’m setting myself up for a huge downfall. When I restrict myself completely from rich, yummy foods, I reach a point where I totally give in and then end up eating way more than I should. However, if I allow myself treats once in awhile, I actually find more self-control in the end.
Action Plan Step #8. When I do splurge I will savor my food. I won’t scarf it down, but instead I will take deliberate bites that fully appreciate the texture and taste of what I’m eating. If I mindlessly eat, then it’s way too easy to polish off five of those peanut butter cookies topped with a Hershey’s Kiss. If I eat conscientiously, then I enjoy my food while I’m eating it and don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.
Action Plan Step #9. I will eat what I want, when I want – if I’m hungry. Once I’m full, I will stop eating. I have been following this eating plan for years and it works to maintain my weight. There is no need to deviate from this during the holidays.
Ok, so the food at holidays only comes once a year. There’s no need to eat as much of it as I can while it’s available to me. I’ll eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full anyway. And if I’m eating right, I’ll be actually eating more, all day long. Because as soon as I feel full I’ll stop, but chances are, I wasn’t overly full, which means my body will be hungry a mere one to two hours later. Which means, I get to eat again!
Action Plan Step #10. I will enjoy my time with family and friends more than I will enjoy the food. In the end, that is what the holidays are all about.