Monday, November 3, 2014

You don't have to gain 10 pounds during the holidays

Happy Monday morning! It’s not only the beginning of a new work week, but it’s the beginning (well, 2 days into it) of a new month.  For many who celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s also the beginning of a busy time of holiday preparations and typically a challenging time for those on a weight loss or other life-changing journey. I used to refer to this period as the “Big Three” in dieting challenges, (no, not GM, Ford, and Chrysler) but rather Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas. Yikes….it really is probably the 2-month period where the most calories are consumed; the most alcohol is drank; and probably (just guessing here) the most stress arising from busy holiday preparations and sometimes tense family gatherings. The busier one becomes, the easier it is to lose focus on one’s journey, and the more likely you will be tempted to make excuses and give up, revert back to old habits, or  at least “take a break” until the new year.  Have you ever done that? Have you ever worked so hard for months….and just….threw it all away when the holiday season rolled around? 

I’ve often had ‘this” type of conversation in my head….and even with others….. as we gathered around a holiday table, ate a decadent dessert, or gobbled up a half-dozen Halloween candy bars at a time:  “I really should think about going on a diet for the new year…(hey, do you want to join Weight Watchers with me)…..This will be my New Year’s resolution for the 37th year in a row……Yeah, I’m going to exercise (maybe we should join a gym together) and eat right……blah, blah, blah….but right now, isn’t this cheesecake to die for?  Oooohhhh…. I really need THAT recipe; those cookies are amazing; they just melt in your mouth.  I really hope Aunt Kathy makes Grandpa’s sour cream peach pie for Thanksgiving……  YUP…. I’m going to change….come January 1st….but right now, I’m going to have another piece of Halloween candy (or three) while I fold back pages of the Christmas Cookie edition of the Better Homes & Gardens magazine……There really isn’t ANY REASON whatsoever to start a weight loss plan NOW….that’s really kind of stupid with all this Halloween candy left and all the holiday parties…. It would be a sin to waste this candy and I can’t possibly make cookies and not try at least ONE or TWO of them….and seriously, WHO sticks to a diet during Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s anyway…that’s just ridiculous with all the parties I have to go to….but FOR SURE…I’ll do it in January!”  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  I’m guessing that there are a lot of you sitting here saying…..YUP; that’s me!!!!!! 

Those thoughts were typical  of “Old Theresa” thinking and the very thoughts that permitted me to gain 15 pounds from Halloween to Christmas…..every year…..and almost every year, the New Year would come and I would have another “conversation” in my head that went something like this: “Well….yeah, I WAS going to get serious about this weight on January 1st…but it’s still a holiday…I’ll wait until my first day back at work……oh no, I better wait until all the Christmas cookies and candy are gone….did you see HOW MUCH candy and goodies I received from the children in  my class……yup… as soon as it’s gone…THEN I’ll get serious; what’s another few weeks? The result? The extra 15 pounds I gained from Halloween until Christmas….then the 5 pounds I gained from eating all the leftover goodies so they didn’t go to waste….and so on and so on….  Yes, I was the Queen of Rationalization!  Thank you, Lord that the thinking of “Old Theresa” has been transformed and “New Theresa” has found a better way.

You and I both know that these next two months really are a challenging time to attempt to lose weight…..but I encourage you to think about it in a different way….starting TODAY.  Christmas is just about seven weeks away. Do you realize that if you made just a few little changes NOW, you could lose 5 – 10 pounds before the New Year?  At minimum, you could avoid the 7-10 pound average weight gain for most people during the holidays.  Isn't that a better plan than facing the New Year 15 pounds heavier?  You don’t have to skip out of all the special things about the season…..but you can minimize the damage and make choices that will change your life. After all…..once you do begin your journey….YOU CAN NEVER go back to that old way of thinking….even after you lose the weight because it will come right back. If you are addicted to food….or booze….or nicotine….or negative thinking…..you will NEVER be able to have ‘just one’ cigarette; just one drink; just one piece of cake.  You will never be able to go to a party and eat and drink anything you want….consume 6 fun-size candy bars….eat an entire box of chocolate covered cherries…..or one of each type of cookie on the tray. Your old way of eating/drinking/thinking will lead you right back down the same road if you let it. You have to begin to think about things in a whole new way.  But that doesn’t mean that you will never be able to enjoy the holiday season again; it just means that you have to find ways to make better choices and still live your life.  The holidays are going to keep on happening; people around you will continue to enjoy treats in your presence; and you will still be required to go to family gatherings/parties and cook/bake treats for those in your life….even if you aren’t eating/drinking like you used to. I’ve discovered that JOY and CELEBRATION do not have to be measured in calories!

Today is a new day…..a perfect day…..to recommit to your plan to a “new way of life” or to begin one. The first step?  Forgive yourself if you blew it over Halloween.  You can’t go back, nor can you let “would have/should have/wish I wouldn’t have’s” sabotage your journey. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a gain this week….let it go…and resolve to do better. Whatever you do, DON’T let it become an excuse to take a break until after the holidays!  Next….get rid of the extra candy! Yes….I know it’s a sin to waste it. Yes… I know you have laid claim to all the stuff that the kids/grandkid’s don’t like. Yes, I know you think you can eat just one piece….but seriously….can you?  Get rid of it. Take it to church or work and share it with others. Donate it somewhere. Give it away….just get it out of the house if it will be a temptation to you.   

Next….start thinking about ways you can make healthier choices now and STILL enjoy the season.  Increase your activity to counteract any extra calories that you might consume.  Start looking at lower calorie options for holiday treats. The internet is full of recipes for healthier options. Try to eat cleaner during the week and pack healthier lunches so that you can enjoy a special treat if you choose.  Practice saying, “Wow…that DOES look amazing….but, no thanks.” Continually ask yourself what you want more…..that piece of pie/cookie/candy……or to enter the New Year a few pounds lighter?  Remind yourself that no one ever died (at least I don’t know anyone) because he/she turned down a Christmas cookie or that piece of pumpkin cheesecake.

Trust me… it CAN BE DONE. You CAN get through these next two months unscathed. You can enjoy the season…and still stay on track. You are stronger than you think….but you have to BELIEVE with all your heart that you can do it….then you have to do it!  YES… it will be hard….but you know what will be even harder?  Starting a journey on January 1st with 15 more pounds to lose.  It’s just not worth it……THERE IS a better way!   We are in this together, and we can…and we will change our lives….one choice, one day, one minute, one party, one step…..at a time!