Well, the holidays are here! A time for fun, family, and festivities. Though our social calendar might be a little lighter and our homes a little emptier than seasons past, we are by no means immune from the many temptations and situations that could take us off our weight loss game. That means it’s time to get it together NOW with a solid plan. This year make the holidays your bitch!
Don’t Make Your Holidays a HoliMONTH
Think about it. It’s not the holidays that cause you to gain weight. Those are just a handful of days. Thanksgiving is over already. All that’s left is a few religious holidays, perhaps some parties, and then it’s New Year’s Eve. If you don’t live every day of December like one endless indulgence, you might be shocked to learn that you don’t have to gain any weight at all. The secret is preparation.
As we enter the holiday season, take out your social calendar, and literally mark off how many events you have planned this month. With a good handle on how many days you have booked and how they are spaced out over the month, you will also see more clearly all the days you can really stay on point with your caloric intake. Then write down how you will indulge at each function, including how much you plan to drink, how many cookies you will allow yourself, and so on. Just by making these preparations, you have already won half the battle. All you have to do is stick to the plan.
Forget Will-Power, Rely on Environment
Armed with your holiday schedule, you can focus on all the other goodies that will be put before you throughout the month. Friends and clients love to send their appreciation in the form of decadent chocolate and artisanal snacks. Just remember- you are not required to eat any of it. Most of it is sugar, which will only cause you to want more, and none of it was budgeted for in your holiday indulgence calendar. If you do decide to indulge in these gifts, at the very least, let it be something that’s worth it to you. Choose these moments thoughtfully.
At home, we have more control. Since will-power is not dependable, the best option is to get whatever it is out of the house. Give it to your kids and ask them to hide it, regift it, or just throw it away. Don’t worry about the waste or that you’ve disrespected a kind gesture. The money has been spent, and the gift has been appreciated. Eating it doesn’t prove your gratitude!
Holiday Traditions and Triggers
This time of the year is a notoriously busy one. And many of our most beloved traditions can also be our most dangerous triggers when it comes to staying on a weight loss plan. Some of the most common triggers include:
For many of us, baking is the quintessential holiday activity. The only problem with baking is… all the delicious, sweet things you bake. We all know you aren’t going to be able to resist sampling the goods. If baking is an absolute Must on your holiday list, you also MUST decide before you begin, what of the batch you will eat. Set aside a moment when you can truly enjoy your labor of love and do it without guilt or regret. It will taste better that way.
Like baking, leftovers invade your environment. They are better left at the party you attended, sent with the guests you invited, donated to a local food bank, or tossed in the garbage. Remember, the money is already spent. Don’t feel bad. As we like to say, “Better in the trash than on your ass!”
Too Busy to Cook
Between all the shopping, working, wrapping, preparing, and partying- our meal schedule can get way off track. Make sure to anticipate the time crush and stock up on frozen meals and quick solutions you can use to get a healthy meal on the table before you crash.
In the days leading up to Christmas, last-minute shopping is bound to interfere with your meal schedule. Don’t leave the house without healthy snacks to help you over a sugar low. The last thing you want is to be starving by the time you get a chance to eat again. If you plan to be out during mealtime, make a reservation so that you won’t have to wait too long for a table. Or bring a meal to take along with you. Most importantly, don’t forget to drink water. The brain is easily tricked into mistaking thirst for hunger.
Stress and Sleep Deprivation
Holiday preparations take their toll on us emotionally and physically. If it gets to the point where you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are just setting yourself up for trouble. It’s a domino effect that starts when you don’t get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep. Now the hormones kick in, causing both a 60% spike in hunger AND an inability to feel full. It’s a recipe for disaster that you really want to avoid. Make sure to get your 7-9 hours of sleep. Set an alarm if you have to and force yourself to go to bed. Whatever you’re doing can wait. Cut stress where you can. You don’t have to volunteer for every committee and attend every holiday function. Your well-being is more important. If you can, carve out time for yourself to just relax and reserve your energy for later, when you really need it.
The end of December tends to become more unstructured as work schedules are relaxed, and the kids are off from school. Instead of hanging out with best pals Boredom and Eating, plan some activities! Get some home projects done, reach out to old friends, read a great book, or take an online course.
Be Kind to Yourself
Like anything else in life, how you respond to your slip-ups is one of the biggest indicators of your success. The most important thing is that you rebound quickly. You can get right back on track at your next meal. You don’t have to wait until January to start eating right just because of a cookie bender you had two days ago. There’s no need to shame-spiral into a situation that will force you to have a bigger problem to contend with when the new year begins.
How you approach the holidays is a choice. You can choose to struggle through it, or you can honor your choices and enjoy the season. At The Real Deal Weight Loss, we hope you find these holiday tips empowering and inspiring. You got this! Happy Holidays!