by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
All year long you attended the gym faithfully, worked out with your favorite trainer, found increased enjoyment in the Les Mills group exercise classes, didn’t miss a spin class for anything, sipped your BCAAs during your workouts and recovered with a protein shake afterwards. You’ve been eating well all year long. Then it hits!
“Holidayorexia.” You’ve starved yourself to fit into your zombie or vixen Halloween costume, November 1st comes and whoosh, the holiday season eating and drinking fest begins. Parties, buffets, late night drinking, office snacking and less and less time to exercise are all upon you. So is the weight gain. While it’s really not as much as people fear, the problem is many don’t lose the yearly weight they do on.
Waist-hip ratios, body mass index, body fat percentage—no matter how you measure, unless you go into this season completely equipped to deal with the all too typical holiday weight gain, it will happen. But, it is not inevitable and here are three tools that will prevent the weight gain dread.
1. Increase your activity
First of all, start wearing a pedometer and keep wearing it daily through January 1st. It will help you keep focused and be mindful of finding ways to move more throughout the day. Park further away from your destination, always take the stairs, walk, jog, or run to where you are headed. Use the airport, shopping mall or pit stops on your holiday driving trip to do a ten-minute high intensity interval jog. It’s very important to schedule time with your trainer, workout buddies, and group exercise classes NOW. Commit to working out on any day you have a party, no matter how formal or informal.
2. Party healthy and eat wisely
OK, this is not going to be easy, but you can do it. More protein, fruit and less refined carbs are part of the answer. Remember this: you can eat everything you want on the buffet table, OR you can stay thin, fit and healthy. You just can’t do both. That means don’t linger at the buffet, take the smaller plate, don’t even go down the chips aisle at the grocery store, and continue driving past your favorite cupcake and dessert shop. Pile your plate with veggies, lean meats, and salad. Sure have a “cheat” once in awhile. Always be a “dessert splitter”—“Want to split this cupcake?…it looks delicious but I only am going to enjoy a small piece of it.” Then savor the treat as slowly and mindfully as you can.
3. THINk fit.
Ahhh, the most important piece of the puzzle. It’s all about how you think. One of my favorite sayings fits: “If you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right.” What you tell yourself about what you “just must have” or what you think you “should be able to eat” or what you imagine “doesn’t really matter” is your reality. It’s also your weight and health. Remember, you can eat everything you want on the buffet table, OR you can stay thin, fit and healthy. You just can’t do both. It’s what you believe. People carry so many sabotaging thoughts about eating, weight management, and holiday party food. Here’s a sampling: “Watching what I eat should be easy.” “It’s not okay to waste food.” “If I get hungry, the hunger will get worse and worse unless I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make my cravings go away.” “It’s okay to eat this food because I’m stressed, everyone else is eating it, it’s just a little piece and I’ll make up for it later.” “I’ve already blown it so it doesn’t matter what else I eat.” Se how completely erroneous, illogical, irrational and unreasonable these thoughts are? Question what evidence you truly have for the veracity of your thoughts. There is none. They are just thoughts. So, create a food plan before you attend any gathering, stick to it no matter what unhelpful thoughts your create, and arm yourself ahead of time with written rational response counters to each irrational thought that you can anticipate will pop up—pull out the written card, read it to yourself and enjoy the veggies.
That’s my plan to insure you stay trim, fit and healthy during the next two months of holiday festivities, building on all of the great fitness you created for yourself during the past year.