By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
In my last article, Three Rules for Succeeding the Last 3 Months of 2012, I described the value of three rules to help get across the Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s finish line:
1. Focus on the process, not the outcome
2. Never give up. Ever.
3. Talk rationally to yourself.
Well, someone stopped me in the gym and asked me, “Only three rules? To get through the entire holiday season? Really? Only three?”
Well, miss-you-know-who-you-are, here are three more. Now you’ll have six to work on, and hopefully that’ll be enough to help you, and everyone else, enjoy the festivities, food and fun feeling fine and fit. Hey, that’s six “f’s”!
Here are three very specific, additional, tools you can begin using right away.
1). Intensify your activity and movement, if not actually increase your exercise. Wear a pedometer. You may not be able to spend more time at the gym, so find every imaginable way you can to increase your activity, even if it seems silly. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so that means a 200-pound person walking three miles per day even at a moderate pace for one week can burn about 2,300 calories. Park further away from your office than you usually do, always take the stairs, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart if possible and turn your house cleaning into pumped up aerobic activity. Dance, skip and hop while you vacuum! Take a jog around the airport if you are flying somewhere and have the time—who cares what “they” are thinking—you’ll never see them again anyway. Schedule training sessions now for throughout the holiday season.
2). Party smartly and healthy. That means eating more fruit, more protein and less refined carbs. Interesting gossip going on over at the buffet? Stay away from the dangerous nibbling that goes on unconsciously. Sure, go to the buffet line, but be when you pile up your plate, make sure you are doing so with fresh veggies, lean meats and other lower calorie goodies. Whatever else you do, become a dessert splitter. Those cupcake look great. Small, cute, only 500 calories! Don’t deprive yourself though. Allow yourself one small serving of your favorite treat and be as mindful as possible as you savor the look, taste and aroma of whatever it is that you “must have.”
3). THINK FIT. Plan your eating before you go out and stick to your plan. People have all sorts of unhelpful, irrational thoughts about food, diet, and weight-loss especially around the holidays. “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 until I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make 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.” It’s important to ask yourself what evidence you have that any of these thoughts, or others you may have, are true. They aren’t. They are just thoughts. Before you go out armed with your food plan, have a strong counter response thought plan to each of your sabotaging, unhelpful thoughts and be sure you use them immediately.
There you have it. Three more wise, well-balanced ways to wade through the winter wassail…and yes, that’s six “W’s.”