The Holiday Season. Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve. Six weeks that prove the obvious: Americans are food whores.
In fact, have you ever wondered why Santa is so… rotund? It’s because food orgies seduce us from so many directions during the holidays that we need a fat superhero to save us. From ourselves. We celebrate most holidays with a single mega-meal, but we overeat almost non-stop from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. By January, half of us need giant red suits.
Can you survive the Holidays? Yes, without needing new clothes. The magic solution: eat like an adult. Don’t binge and don’t diet. Eat responsibly and you will be fine.
Some people may think this advice is superficial, but that means they missed the ‘don’t diet’ part. Not dieting and not overeating at the same time is hard. However, it’s the only way to keep lost weight from finding its way back home.
I often write that people must learn how to stabilize their weight before they can successfully lose weight. If they don’t learn maintenance, then sooner or later they will break their diets and not know how to regain control.
The good news is that you can do better. If your long-term goal is weight loss, the holidays are the perfect time to learn how to stabilize. If you can wake up in January and weigh what you weighed today, in November, you will have defeated Christmas Holiday Syndrome. That success will put you into an elite group of winners.
Here’s How To Beat The Holidays:
Five Basic Rules:
- Make a resolution to keep your weight stable until January. It won’t be hard; just eat like an adult, not like a kid who was recently adopted by Willie Wonka.
Start to diet on the first full day you go back to work, not on January 1st. I’m serious. If you try to lose weight between now and January you will fail quickly. If you try to start on Jan 1st you will fail even faster: there will be New Year’s Day parties, weekend football, and everyone who hosted a New Year’s Eve party will invite you over to share the left-overs. Monday, Jan 4th, will come soon enough.
Make a few long term goals for 2016, but keep them reasonable. If you vow to never swallow a gram of carbohydrate until you lose 100 pounds, you will fail in a hurry. If your goal is to lose 100 pounds in a year, you will fail slowly. Again, be patient with yourself.
Weigh yourself tomorrow morning, before breakfast. Weigh yourself naked (yes, you can cover the mirrors, you coward.) That will establish your maximum weight until you start to diet in January. It may be a fat maximum, but who cares? The minute you focus on not gaining weight instead of trying to lose weight, life will get better. And don’t try to be perfect – give yourself a little slack. Perfection has killed more diets than Krispy Kreme.
Don’t stop exercising, regardless of how much you eat at a party. If you do not exercise, don’t wait for January. Ignore the weather and start today. Next week’s I’ll write about how exercise saved my life last week. Seriously.
Five Specific Rules:
- When you get to a party or other event; summon your inner camel. Drink a cold bottle of water before you do anything else. It will fill you up and dull your hunger. Even more important, it will give you time to gain control of the situation.
Decide what you will eat and what you will not eat. For example, I never eat cookies, cakes, or pastries unless they are homemade. Good homemade baking always tastes better than store-bought, and if it isn’t good I throw it away when no one is looking. This simple rule eliminates most but not all of the tempting desserts at any party. Create your own set of rules for eating at parties and follow them. Almost all the time.
Food buffets are the enemy and the enemy is everywhere. Look at every dish on the buffet, plan what you will take before you take anything, and stick with your plan. If you don’t plan properly, you will eat until you glow like Rudolph.
Have very little alcohol. It contains an enormous amount of unnecessary calories and worse, it will weaken your resolve. Stay strong.
No marijuana. You have a weight problem – do you really want to smoke a joint while surrounded by Christmas cookies, chocolates, and eggnog-flavored everything? If I smoked enough marijuana, I’d eat eggnog-flavored pork chops. And I’m a Jewish vegetarian.
And with #10, we end on a high note. If you don’t let yourself go wild, and if you don’t pretend that you can diet when the world is telling you to relax, you will be fine. Just concentrate on not gaining weight – it’s a great way to end the year with a win.