It would be nice if the holidays were stress-free, wouldn’t it?
However, for a lot of people, the holidays are just inherently stressful. Although my family tries to keep the focus on the reason for the season or particular holiday, I also feel stressed during this time of year. The presents, the travel, the family obligations, the kid’s rehearsals and performances, and let’s not forget – the desire to stay at a healthy weight.
Sure I have been maintaining this weight loss for a long time, but it still takes work and deliberate effort.
If you are stressed about meeting your weight loss or weight maintenance goals, you are perfectly normal. In fact, a little stress can help you focus on your goals and avoid falling into the “holiday eating season” trap.
You know that trap I’m talking about. The one that so many of us step into quite willingly. The trap of buffet tables laden with meat, cheese, desserts, casseroles, and chips. The trap of family gatherings that end up being less about the family and more about how much food can be shoved into our mouths. The trap of children’s parties where cupcakes abound and vegetables do not. Or even the trap of doing holiday baking “for gifts” that actually end up being for us.
I fell into each of those traps willingly. (Not that they are really traps, but they certainly can catch us unaware.)
I baked to my heart’s content between October 15th and New Year’s. Some of the baked goods made it to their intended destinations, while a lot of them did not. I ate with abandon because it was the holiday. I never turned down second helpings of a cake or pie because it was the holiday.
No matter what the occasion, I was eating or preparing to eat.
The trap of eating and baking whatever I wanted during the holidays was hard to escape. I had tried to diet during the holiday seasons for years without success. However, the final time I lost weight it took me 14 months, and I had to make it through the holiday eating season without gaining weight. In fact, in order to lose that much weight in just 14 months, I had to lose weight over the holidays. And I did.
I lost about 30 pounds during the holidays that year and it wasn’t all that hard. You know why?
Because I wasn’t just dieting to lose pounds. I was changing my lifestyle one day at a time. And those days included holidays. Lots of them.
The “change your lifestyle” phrase is one we use a lot in the weight loss/weight maintenance circle. I don’t think it is overused because it is so true. Sure you can lose weight on a temporary, restrictive diet, but can you keep it up during the holidays? Can you keep the weight off once October rolls around? That’s the key.
Identifying the holiday eating traps that tend to catch you is a good addition to any weight loss plan. I’ve shared some of my traps and I’d encourage you to think of yours. They may be similar to mine or not, but I bet most of you have at least one.
Once you know the traps, it is time to develop a strategy to deal with them. One of my strategies were to stop baking like I was a pastry chef and reserve my baking for one special dessert per holiday. I also used the “rating my food” strategy to help me determine whether a food was worth the calories or not. And of course, I said a lot of “No, thank you’s,” when I was losing weight.
Before you head into this holiday season, identify your traps and come up with strategies to deal with them. That way, come January, you will be ahead of the game and ready to keep moving forward with your weight management goals.
What traps get you during the holidays? How do you plan on not getting caught? Diane