The Importance of the Holidays

Thank you all for your nice comments on my holiday post on Monday. It’s so much fun enjoying the holidays with family and friends.

I’m wondering about something though. I’m working with a few people right now on weight loss, and one of them said to me, “I can’t wait until I don’t have to think about the holidays and all the food anymore.” We talked about that, but later I thought about it further.

No matter where you are in the weight loss/weight maintenance process, aligning your thinking away from “getting through the holidays” to “learning to make choices that make your life easier forever” is really the important thing to learn about the holidays.

It’s tempting to breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over and the kids have eaten all their stocking candy. And truly, I’m a little glad when it’s all gone, too. But I learned that the holidays shouldn’t make you feel unduly stressed as you work on losing weight. My reasoning? Because one of the components to successful weight maintenance is learning to treat every day much as the one the day before.

Of course there are special occasions, but for the most part, the holidays are about making good choices fairly consistently. Like I explained to my friend, when you are losing weight you do think about the holidays a lot, but after you’ve lost the weight, you still must be careful and consistent about your food choices day in and day out for the rest of your life. The holidays are fun and sometimes stressful, but they need to be part of your life, because they aren’t going away.

I gave this explanation to my friend.

I know a woman who is 80 years old. She is slim and trim. She watches her food and exercises diligently – always.

My friend couldn’t believe it. She thought this lady just ate whatever she wanted without thinking about it. I told her that I do the same thing. I watch what I eat, monitor my weight and try to make healthy choices – no matter what time of year it is.

Now that you’ve negotiated the 2010 holidays successfully, how are you thinking about the holidays as being just another special part of your life? Diane

15 thoughts on “The Importance of the Holidays

  1. Sheri says:

    When I first started maintenance, I had to log my food everyday for 2 years, stick with the same foods day in and day out. Now, I’m not so stringent, I finally came to the conclusion that “I am not going to gain my weight back and its okay to enjoy eating again”. I just have to be smart about my food choices and exercise.

    I’m okay with Holidays now, I can honestly say this year didn’t bother me except I am a stickler with my “routine” now that was hard not having one. 🙂

  2. vickie says:

    Your wrote:
    “I gave this explanation to my friend.

    I know a woman who is 80 years old. She is slim and trim. She watches her food and exercises diligently – always.

    My friend couldn’t believe it. She thought this lady just ate whatever she wanted without thinking about it. I told her that I do the same thing. I watch what I eat, monitor my weight and try to make healthy choices – no matter what time of year it is”

    I truly love this example.

    I would say that exact same thing of myself. I never get ‘off the elevator’. I do not consider myself ‘done’. I am very careful to feed myself healthy food, portions, balanced between food groups, as close to whole foods as I can – EVERY DAY.

  3. Jody - Fit at 53 says:

    Diane, I could not agree more with all you wrote!!! I once wrote a post about this.. how I knew that once I lost the weight, I would have to watch my choices & be diligent for the rest of my life.. it was not like I was going to lose weight & then start eating what I wanted again.

    You wrote: but after you’ve lost the weight, you still must be careful and consistent about your food choices day in and day out for the rest of your life. The holidays are fun and sometimes stressful, but they need to be part of your life, because they aren’t going away.

    SO TRUE!

  4. Karen says:

    I admit I struggle with this. My thought is that once I am well under control and maintaining, I can tackle holidays. Looking for balance here as in all things.

  5. jessey says:

    I know I will always have to think about the holidays, even when I do reach my goal. It is a challenging time of year and even if a day comes where I don’t have to track my food on a daily basis, I will probably resort back to it during the holidays to keep myself on track.

  6. Babbalou says:

    This was a great post, Diane! I completely agree with you. I have changed the way I approach the holidays, I no longer start baking long before Christmas. Aside from my personal focus on weight maintenance, it’s not healthy for anyone to eat treats for three weeks straight – and I for one know I have a hard time limiting myself to a single cookie a day. Last year I only baked on Christmas Eve, I made a cake for dessert and then got rid of the leftovers. This year I had more confidence and so I baked a single batch of cookies at the beginning of Christmas week and again made a cake for Christmas. The big “Aha!” moment for me was to recognize that Christmas is one day, and while it was ok to deviate from my normal eating plan for a single day, it was a bad idea to write off the better part of a month. Eating cookies for two weeks straight does nothing to enhance the holiday, and the resultant weight gain isn’t something I want or need. For people who sruggle with portion control, I think it’s helpful to stop calling it “the holidays” if to you that means the month of December! Calling it Christmas helps you limit the indulgence, if you want to indulge, to a single day or a single special meal. And there’s room in life for special meals on special occasions.

  7. Leah says:

    This year didn’t bother me food wise. I wasn’t afraid of the food that would be around, but instead made my choices and journaled all of them. 🙂

    One aspect of this journey that I’ve seen in your life and I know must be learned is that food can’t control our lives. We have to come to a point where food is something to be enjoyed, simply in moderation.

  8. blackhuff says:

    I agree with you. By making the right food choices and exercising, one should go through the holiday season just fine. Yes, I’ve gained 4lbs in the holiday season but at least it is not the 12-14lbs like in the past years 🙂

  9. Cilla says:

    Another wonderful, thought-provoking read, thank you, Diane. Your point about having to always be vigilant with eating and exercise is so, so true. The first time I lost the weight, I reached goal and didn’t realise what maintenance would entail. I regained so quickly I didn’t know what had hit me (or maybe I just stuck my head in the sand).

    For the holidays, I just continued with my usual routine, building in a few Christmas treats on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I think that I’ve learned that it’s more enjoyable to savour a few bites of something delicious than to stuff myself to the gills. My favourite holiday treat was an individual pot of Christmas pudding with custard on Christmas Eve 🙂

  10. Alissa says:

    I have finally learned how to handle the holidays- and this is about 2 1/2 years after starting my weight loss journey. I enjoy the food- in small amounts. I track everything I eat. I exercise. I PLAN- most importantly. I can’t see myself not having to think about this someday- I know I will ALWAYS have to plan ahead or I will go back to my old habits. I always thought that ALL skinny people could eat whatever they want, whenever they want and I’m learning that’s probably not ALWAYS the case. Good post!

  11. Siobhan says:

    I used to indulge in that wishful thinking … that once I reach goal I’ll just magically stay there with no effort on my part. When I look back on the times I didn’t have a problem maintaining a normal weight, I realize that I DID watch what I ate and I exercised, a lot. Same things I need to do to get there again. 🙂

  12. Lisa says:

    You are so right. Maintenance mode means eating the same way I do every day even if it’s a holiday. I splurge, I eat treats, and this season I did indulge more than past years…but I stayed committed to exercise and TRYING to eat healthy and that helped.

  13. Dr. J says:

    The key for me is to decrease the absurd focus on food and focus on all the really important things about holidays or really just day to day living. Family, friends, activities, being human, etc. Society has made food the center of most everything, we do not have to follow the herd.

  14. Maude says:

    I agree with what you say in your post, but in truth it seems somewhat idealistic that we’ll be able to treat every day like any other, especially at a time of year when we are bombarded with food from every direction. I find myself more aligned with your client. Every year I’m relieved to find the holidays are over – no matter if I feel like I did well with my eating or not. Food is constantly shoved at you. There’s just no escape, even if I don’t make it at home or if I’m very careful to get rid of it when it does make it into the house. I go to work and people bring in tons of food. I go to visit relatives and there’s food everywhere. It’s less that I did good or bad and more that I feel like I have to be so conscious of it all the time. Yes, having a treat or two is okay, but trying to dodge and parry all the food that’s pushed on you at every single opportunity feels exhausting. Many of us are overeaters – pure and simple. I see food that looks good – I want to eat it. Maybe I have some and maybe I don’t, but having to look at it from mid November to the end of December gets really hard. I have the tools to deal with it, but sometimes I just get worn down by the battle. I’m so happy to see January 1!

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