Instead of pursuing weight loss during the holidays, a better strategy might be to focus on preventing weight gain. Why such a conservative goal? Ask anyone who is actively trying to lose weight and they will tell you that the stretch between Halloween and New Year’s Day is the most difficult. Instead of focusing on the health challenges (which we are all familiar with), we can focus on strategies for overcoming.
First of all, meditate on the rewards of living a healthy lifestyle. Why not just indulge yourself for the remaining weeks and get “back on track” in January? That’s what a lot of people do, but it will not be any easier in February than it is right now. New Year’s resolutions fade quickly. When you get off track, take a deep breath and refocus. There are many reasons not to delay, but here are the most compelling reasons I’ve heard:
- Feelings of empowerment. For once, food is not controlling you, but you are in control of food
- Decreased feelings of guilt and shame
- Increased energy
- Weight maintenance or weight loss
- Better control of diabetes
- Better sleep
- Decreased mental fatigue
- Greater mobility
- Better health
- Less stress (You’ve planned for success and you know what to expect)
We always, always talk about the rewarding aspects of eating well and exercising. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much you may think you want to lose weight, the rewards of the lifestyle change must be greater than the cost involved. Many sacrifices are involved in losing weight, but I don’t know of one person who would say that the results are not worth it. So again, just get clear about your personal motivations for losing weight and adjust as you move along in the journey.
So if you decide to go counter culture and commit yourself to balance during the holiday season (while most others are literally eating and drinking themselves sick), then here are some practical strategies to help keep you on track. Most of these strategies have been tested by scientist and expert Brian Wansink who runs the Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. He is also the author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, which I highly recommend reading if you are trying to lose weight. Visit his website here.
Strategies to help you avoid holiday weight gain:
- Survey, then change your environment. Set yourself up for success by keeping junk food out of sight and out of mind. Clear the home and work environment, and if that’s not an option, distance yourself as much as possible from the polluted environment (i.e., stay out of the work break room)
- Don’t arrive to parties famished. Have a meal or light snack ahead of time so you won’t be physically hungry
- Wear your best belt or fitted clothes
- Fill up on crudites and vegetables (fiber)
- Don’t drink your calories. Sparkling water, unsweet tea and zero calorie, zero sugar beverages only
- Eat off of a smaller plate. This has a profound psychological effect causing you to eat less
- Have some protein! Lean proteins such as boiled shrimp or grilled chicken help with satiety
- Don’t hang around the buffet table. Take the conversation in another room. Better yet, get outside or take a walk
- Distract your hands by drinking herbal tea or La Croix
- Chew gum
- Just say no and practice being assertive
Finally, have the right mindset. What are your intentions when you attend parties and gatherings? Ultimately, each person is unique in regard to their goals and motivations. Attitude and “how” you eat is almost more important that “what” you will eat. If you’re intention is to lose weight during the holidays, that’s great. If you are dedicated and committed to this goal, you WILL lose weight during the holidays. If your goal is to maintain weight during the holidays, that is also noble. If you stay focused, you will avoid the holiday weight trap that so many Americans fall into.
As always, I’m so encouraged to be surrounded by people that do not choose the path of least resistance and instead choose to put their health first. You inspire others without knowing. Kudos to you for working hard all year round and get ready to encourage those New Year’s Resolution health seekers. January 2017 here we come!