We’ve officially entered the holiday season; I just attended my first Christmas party, and I find my thoughts turning to Christmas of 2013. It was the first holiday season I’d encountered on my weight loss journey. I thought about all the Christmas parties with all their delectable treats that only come around once a year but have enough calories to choke a horse. I thought about Christmas dinner. Everything tastes so amazingly good, but if Christmas dinner is anything like Thanksgiving dinner, every food is either brown or yellow, not the best choices for healthy eating. I had been consistently losing weight. I was motivated to make healthy changes, and I was terrified of gaining weight. How was I going to be sociable at the parties and Christmas gatherings without gaining back all that weight I’d lost? It was like going into a final exam. I had to put to the test everything I’d learned about healthy eating and losing weight. Could I do it? Maybe this could be the year that Santa skipped Christmas? Please…?
Maybe you find yourself in that pickle this year. You’ve made some healthy choices, maybe even lost some weight, but the thought of all the holiday food threatens to derail all your good choices. With the holiday season in full swing, I thought I’d give you some tips that have carried me through 3 holiday seasons now with no weight gain.
- Have realistic goals. Being realistic in weight loss goals is probably one of the most important things I did to lose weight, and when it comes to the holidays, being realistic is even more important. My goal every year is not to lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year but to just MAINTAIN my weight. Realistically, I’m going to want to eat at parties and Christmas dinner. But if I can manage to somehow avoid the weight gain that seems inevitable this time of year, I’ll be happy.
- Remember that you are empowered. YOU control what you put in your mouth. That second slice of pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream may be calling your name, but it has NO control over you. You alone decide if you’re going to eat it or not.
- Ration your calories. When I know that I’m going to a party or have a holiday meal coming up, I eat wisely during the rest of the day. I think of my calories as a bank account of sorts. I have a predetermined number of calories to use for the day. I know at that Christmas party or dinner that I will probably be using up more calories than normal, so to make sure I don’t “overdraw” my account, or eat more calories than I need, I choose very low calorie foods for the rest of the day, like salads and fresh fruits and vegetables. And don’t forget to drink your water!
- Make the best choices possible. When it comes to what you’re going to eat at that holiday gathering, make the best choices possible. Is there a salad or a green vegetable? Opt for larger portions of that over sweet potatoes swimming in brown sugar and marshmallows. Do you have a choice of turkey or ham? Go for white meat turkey. It has a lower fat content. Think about portion size. Small amounts of the things you love but know are bad for you, AKA those sweet potatoes loaded with sugar, may be just enough to satisfy your taste without totally wrecking your health plan.
- Skip the gravy and whipped cream. It’s easy for me to say “skip the gravy”since I’m not a big fan of gravy, but gravy is loaded with calories. Whipped cream is a bit tougher to say no to, but when I think about how delicious my dessert tastes even without that pile of calories masquerading as total yumminess, I’ll let it go in a heartbeat.
- Get some kind of physical activity every day. Even during Christmas, you ask? YES! Even during Christmas! Go for a walk. It’s a great way to enjoy your neighbors’ outdoor Christmas decorations. You don’t have to spend an hour in the gym, but keep yourself moving. Believe me, you’ll feel better for it.
- Enjoy yourself! Last but not least, enjoy the holiday gatherings. Don’t get so hung up on watching calories and your weight that you totally miss out on the fun. Be sensible. Make healthy choices. Eat in moderation. Be active. But at the end of the day, if you find that you’ve eaten more than you intended or had things that you know are not good for you, remember that this does not mean the end of your health plan. Tomorrow’s a new day. Be determined to make good choices. Stay away from holiday leftovers, remember your goals, and keep on going. You can do it!
Here’s to a happy and healthy Christmas!
Talk to me:
What Christmas traditions do you have?
What will you do to make healthy choices this holiday season?