Topping most New Year's resolutions lists is losing weight and getting fit. For 30 years, it was number one on mine until I decided to make a change. In my book, “Finished being Fat,” I went on a journey to lose 75 pounds and learned to finish what I started. The first year after my weight-loss, it felt like the holiday season was out to get me: the feasts, the parties, and the endless parade of neighborly homemade fudge and treats. But, I was determined never to make that weighty New Year’s resolution, again. Here are a few tricks I’ve found that help me survive the holidays — with both my buttons and my sanity intact.
Stick to the Budget
The secret to weight loss is not so secret. Take in fewer calories than the body is using. That’s how I lost the weight, and that’s how I’ve have kept it off. My calorie budget doesn’t take a holiday vacation. If I have an important party or dinner to attend, I make sure to save most of my calories for that.
This stands for bring your own bananas. It doesn’t really have to be bananas, but if I’m going to a party where I know there will be lots of fattening finger foods, I bring something a little healthier. So I’m a good guest and bring a veggie or fruit tray. The party host is usually grateful for the extra offering, and I’m not stuck with an empty plate.
It’s the holidays, so I give myself a present every day. In my daily budget, I make sure to save room for a little piece of one of my favorite indulgences. I'll feel less like a scrooge when I satisfy my cravings. Since it’s in my budget, I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
I eat with my eyes, first. At big family dinners with lots of food, I focus on making a pretty plate. In the case of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, I put the food with color on first — the leafy greens, the vibrant orange carrots or some sweet potatoes. Then, I’ll add the protein onto the plate. That only leaves a small portion of my plate for the beige stuff like mashed potatoes and gravy.
Wherever I am, there’s plenty of water nearby. I try to drink a full glass before every meal. It serves two purposes: First, I feel fuller and I’m less likely to overeat. Second, it helps my digestion to flush the fat.
When I’ve already spent my calories for the day, but that pumpkin pie is calling my name, I earn more calories for the budget. I go for a run, hike, or walk. Sometimes I’ll play in the snow with the kids. With an hour of exercise, I can earn an extra 400-600 calories for the day.
I try to stay busy and off the couch. Boredom snacking doesn’t add to my enjoyment of the holiday, but it does add to my waistline. I plan activities for me and my family that aren’t centered around food like going caroling or making holiday cards. It keeps my hands and mouth occupied with something other than eating.
Peace on Earth
The holidays can get crazy. I de-stress and avoid emotional eating through meditation. Every time I want to reach for the tub of ice cream to soothe my frayed nerves, I take a few minutes to breathe and meditate, instead. I prefer a couple of yoga boxed breaths — inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and then hold again for four counts. Using breathing patterns such as this works like a charm to focus my thoughts on what I really want to think about, rather than the momentary satisfaction food calms my stress levels.
Forgive and Forget
Everybody has bad days. After I’ve had one, I look at what went wrong and why I went over the budget. I, then, commit to myself to do better and let it go. It doesn’t help to beat myself up over past mistakes. That’s one of the tricks that has led me to lasting weight-loss — banishing the Ghosts of Fat Past.
Using these tips have helped me through the holidays and will help you, too.