Last year was the first year I didn’t succumb to the stealthy five or so pounds that creep up from Thanksgiving through mid-January and attach to my belly, butt and thighs.
I want the same thing to happen this year — and each subsequent year — so I figured out what I did right. And what I quit doing wrong!
Probably the most important thing was that I just didn’t bake as much as I usually do. Like every family, we have many traditions that swirl around the holidays like so much whipped cream on pie, which I got rid of. The whipped cream, not the pie. I mean, c’mon! Basically, I pared down the offerings to just a few can’t-live-withouts that I let everyone vote on. Turns out, nobody really liked the hoopla of baking and frosting 84 gazillion sugar cookies. We mindlessly ate them, though, well into January. So the sugar cookies got the heave-ho. (Bonus — You can imagine how much time that freed up, too, helping lower the ‘scheduling stress’ of it all.) But we kept our Christmas morning coffeecake, because some traditions you just don’t mess with. (We affectionately call it our Heart Attack in a Bundt Pan.)
I’m sure it’s no coincidence, but last year I finally figured out portion control. It seems like a simple thing, right? But if you’re struggling with weight gain, you know how hard it is to eat proper amounts of food. It’s easy to lose perspective about proper portions, with all the supersizing of restaurant meals and ease of buying in bulk. But I made the voice in my head quit singing the theme to Gilligan’s Island all day and instead tell me to “Eat half as much … you can always have more later if you’re truly hungry.” Of course, I’m, you know, lazy, so if I put away the leftovers first, then I won’t get them out again. And guess what? I never miss having seconds. I’ve realized that’s more of a habit than true hunger.
Everyone is tempted to only eat celery all day before going to a party … skipping breakfast and lunch so you can eat a huge Thanksgiving dinner … eating nothing sweet in October and then tearing into the kids’ trick-or-treat bag like a crazed hyena.
I’ve already posted some tips to remain in control at holiday parties (which I learned the hard way too) so take a look at those.
Whatever you do, DON’T turn down an invitation to a party because you’re scared of wrecking your diet. Life is too short to agonize over your weight. It’s much more important to connect with your friends and family … yes, even if it involves a million calories. Just don’t eat a million calories.
Sometimes I’d slip and eat more — much more — than I intended. When I finally figured out that I needed to get back on track right then instead of waiting until tomorrow, the weight came off easier too. It’s very tempting to say, “Oops, I screwed up … may as well have another brownie/eggnog/serving of mashed potatoes/bottle of tequila.”
But don’t. I like the analogy of getting a traffic ticket. If you get stopped for speeding, you don’t say, “Oops, I screwed up … may as well keep speeding. I’ll slow down tomorrow.” No. You learn your lesson and slow down right then, becoming more conscious of your actions.
During the holidays, especially, I’d rather enjoy all the parties and festivities, so I’m willing to exercise harder and longer for the duration. I know I’ll probably consume more calories than normal from November through January, but I’ll also burn more too.
So, fingers crossed that I really have figured it out because that means I can continue to pass along the tricks and tips that work for me!
What about you … do you gain weight over the holidays? Do you have any favorite tips or tricks to avoid holiday weight gain?