Let’s be honest. How often have you heard someone (maybe even you?) say something like: “It’s normal to gain weight at the holidays,” or “Who doesn’t gain weight on vacation?” Granted, there are absolutely going to be more opportunities to eat, drink and be merry this time of year, and no one is arguing that vacations are the time to let go of routine. Lots of pleasure in life comes from times when we gather over a meal with family and friends.
I’m just wondering if there are times that we subtly give ourselves permission or explain away unhealthy behaviors that we’re trying to change because “it’s that time of year,” or “everyone else does the same thing.” Is that really true? Or are we making excuses? Setting ourselves up for a fall?
With Christmas just around the corner, it might be a good time to examine your mindset about how you approach your healthy lifestyle habits at this time of year. Do they fall by the wayside completely? Do you tell yourself it’s no use, you’ll get back on track in January? Is it “not your fault” because you are just inundated with delicious goodies everywhere you go (and you don’t want to be rude……)
Here are some ideas and strategies to help you stay on track and enjoy the pleasures of the season:
- Ok, the holidays are filled with an abundance of occasions to eat, drink, and stay out late. Whatever the occasion, we’re likely to enjoy it most if we’re at our best. If we’re overdoing it on anything (food, drink, not getting enough rest and sleep, or whatever) there’s just no way we’re going to be at the top of our game. And isn’t that especially important at this time of year so that we can truly enjoy the season? Keeping a “big picture” perspective might be useful here, such as: “How am I going to feel tomorrow if I overindulge tonight?” Is it really worth it?
- The “I blew it today, I might as well go ahead and really blow it,” syndrome. This is usually followed by “Oh, well, I can start again tomorrow…..” or “What the heck…..I’m going to enjoy the holiday, my time off, etc.” Invariably, when tomorrow comes, it’s harder to get back on track then you anticipated, or you end up upset with yourself come January 2nd because here you go again, starting over……..The antidote: Don’t use going off the rails as an excuse to really go off the rails.
- You have a choice. You really do. If you’re done eating and you’re still being offered food, a polite “I can’t eat another bite. Everything was delicious,” is all that’s necessary. Really.
- Ultimately, parties – and the season – are about people. This is the time of year to connect – with family, friends, and those people who add meaning to our lives. Here’s where redefining our idea of a holiday gathering can come in handy. Try moving away from the buffet table once you’ve eaten, and focus your energies on the celebration and conversation. That’s why you’re there, right?
- Plan ahead. If dinner is at 4:00 pm, you’re not going to want a big lunch. If you’re going to a late party, have a snack of fruit and cheese at 5:00 pm so that you don’t arrive famished. If you know there’s a special dish you love, go ahead and have a serving, but not seconds. Planning ahead keeps you from making a less-than-healthy choices when you are over-tired, rushed or starved.
Your mindset determines your outcome. All the “diet tips and tricks” in the world won’t do you any good without the right mindset. Deciding that, while you may not lose any weight during the holidays, you will hold at your current weight may be just the “mindset” goal that you need. Having that mindset – that big picture thinking – can serve to direct your choices and help you make ones that will take you through the season feeling your best and ready to go on January 2nd!