The sixty-three days from Halloween to New Year’s Day marks the season of dread for those trying to watch their weight. Studies vary on the amount of weight gained during this period of time – anywhere from five to ten pounds seems to be the average. That may not seem like much until considering the fact that the weight gained over the holidays is generally never taken off. Even if someone gained just one pound a year, by the time they attend their 40th class reunion they’ve easily put on 40 pounds or more.
Many people give themselves an unspoken permission slip to over-indulge for 63 days. After all, we’re surrounded by endless amounts of candies, baked sweets and high-calorie beverages. And because it’s the normal behavior for the majority of the country, we may wonder why try to fight it? Add stress into the mix and any attempts to stay on track nutritionally are practically doomed. So what’s a person to do who wants to survive the madness and not feel like a bloated zombie on New Year’s Day?
The answer is to make your game plan right now. By planning things out with a few targeted goals (for example, to not gain even one pound this year), you’ll have a clearer vision of how you’ll enjoy the holidays without compromising your health. This is not about deprivation, but about enjoying the holidays sensibly and without guilt. Do not wait until you’re faced with temptation! By writing down your goals now and forming a strategy, you’ll be much better equipped to win the war on holiday weight gain. Here are some basic ideas to set yourself up for success:
1. Sanitize your environment. In other words, do not bring junk food, candy and bakery sweets into your house, your office, your car, or wherever you spend time. If the smell of cinnamon buns and other high-fat foods are a trigger for you, then avoid the mall and do your shopping on-line. This may be the biggest predictor of your success, because as the saying goes, if it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth. If your family members aren’t willing to cooperate, ask them to store their indulgences out of sight. If baking cookies results in eating half a batch out of the oven, then be kind to yourself and forego the baking this year. And remember, you can politely say NO to the annual cookie swap.
2. Going to a party or family gathering? Decide ahead of time what you are going to eat and what you’re NOT going to eat. Relying on will power will be greatly diminished by determining and claiming your non-negotiables before the party. Pre-eat something healthy so that you’re partially full, and volunteer to bring a healthy entrée or dessert that you’ll be able to enjoy at the party. Don’t stage yourself near the buffet, but do have a few bites of your favorite healthy dishes (e-mail for recipe suggestions); don’t go overboard on the portions. Avoid the high-fat, diet-busting dishes filled with oils, butters, cheeses, and creams. Avoid or limit alcohol, since it is not only high in calories but can easily weaken your resolve. Also beware of high-sugar drinks (sodas, punch, eggnog, etc.). Stick with sparkling water; add a little cranberry juice and a lime. You’ll be very glad the next day.
3. Don’t use ‘busyness’ to blow off exercising. Keep established routines, and don’t let stress get you off track. If your current routine does not include some type of movement, then create a new routine which does.
4. Manage your stress and deal with your emotions. If you’re an emotional eater, the holidays can be a double whammy. Food is abundant, plus emotions are amplified. Consider a counselor, a minister, or a friend to talk with if you’re beginning to medicate with food. Develop strategies now of how you’re going to deal with these issues.
5. Don’t make it about the food. Start some new traditions involving family crafts or game times. Volunteer at a shelter, nursing home or other organization to help others. Go bowling or go for a hike.
Celebrate the New Year with the fact that you haven’t gained weight! No resolutions for you – except to continue on the healthy path toward weight loss and regained health. Contact me for personal coaching or to sign up for our newsletter and class information.