Weight gain doesn't have to be an inevitable side effect of the holiday season. Here are my top tips for fending off extra pounds without turning down party invitations or stressing out.
1. Watch your language!
I don't mean avoid cursing at the lady who steals your parking space on Black Friday (although that's a good idea, too). I am referring to the way we talk to ourselves. Have you heard the expression, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're absolutely right?" (Thank you, Henry Ford!) The wisdom in this is that our thoughts create our reality. If you head off to a holiday party thinking, "Ugh, I am really going to pig out tonight" or start making a plan for the New Year to take off those ten pounds that you are sure you are going to gain between now and December 31st, then weight gain is more likely to happen! When we hold a thought in our heads, we subconsciously take action to make that picture a reality.
The good news is that we can use self-talk in our favor. If you tell yourself each day, "I am enjoying the holiday season without overeating" or "I trust my body to tell me when she has had enough" or "I can easily enjoy a few of mom's homemade holiday cookies without setting off on a binge," then your body will follow through. Picture yourself cruising through the holidays as a healthy eater who enjoys the occasional treat, and your vision will likely come to pass.
2. Slow down
It goes against our natural instincts (and the spirit of the holiday rush) to slow down during this time of year. However, making a point to relax and take it easy is one of the best things we can do for our waist lines (and peace of mind!) Feeling constantly overwhelmed, rushed, and stressed out can cause our cortisol levels to increase, which signals our body to slow down metabolism and cling to body fat. Rushing through meals and multi-tasking while eating are primary causes of overeating, because we are not paying attention to our food!
There are some simple solutions for this. Just taking 5 minutes each morning to take some deep breaths and set your intentions for the day before you hit the ground running can make a world of difference in how your emotions unfold during the day. Allowing 15 minutes to sit down with your food on a plate, and eat mindfully, without reading emails or replying to texts, helps digestion and prevents overindulging. Twenty to thirty minutes a day of slowing down the pace can make the difference between barely squeezing into your New Year's Eve party dress and wearing it well.
3. Spend (Your Time) Wisely
It can be so hard to say, No, thank you! We worry about offending Aunt Lois by turning down a slice of her famous turtle cheesecake (despite being satisfied from dinner), we don't want to hurt the neighbor's feelings and not show up at their Open House (even though we have 2 other family commitments), and we think we have no choice about volunteering to make home-crafted ornaments for the elementary school holiday bazaar (because if we don't, then who will?) The challenge is that over-committing ourselves during the holidays can lead to burn out (and again...those extra pounds).
Be realistic about how much time you have to give and budget your time in ways that are energizing, rather than energy draining. Before you feel pressed to give yet another "yes!," recognize that what people want most is not for you to eat their sweets or hang out all night, but rather to feel good. If you practice turning down an opportunity graciously, then everyone will be happy. Compliment the person who extends the offer, rather than explaining or complaining how busy you are. For example:
Oh, Aunt Lois, those turtle cheesecake brownies look simply delectable. I so admire your talent for baking. I’m afraid I am going to have to take a pass this time. My loss, but more for others today. Thank you for sharing your treats with the family.
If you are strategic in your commitments, then you will find you have just the right amount of fun and food for the holidays – enough to enjoy, but not so much that you are stressing and eating your way through December.
Maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle during the holidays doesn't have to be about deprivation, but rather paying attention to how we choose to think, talk, and give during this joyful season.
About Elaine: Elaine Morales, Health and Lifestyle Transformation Coach, helps frazzled and frustrated women gain freedom from food drama, ditch yo-yo dieting and emotional overeating, and achieve their ideal weight in a way that is healthy and joyful. To learn more about Elaine's pleasurable approach to realizing the body and life of your dreams, check out www.jumpstartwithelaine.com.