We all know how common it is to gain weight over the holidays. We talk about it with friends and we see it discussed on television. It’s a very common problem in our culture. But we are setting ourselves up for failure if we don’t think about this until the holidays are upon us. Here are some strategies for fighting holiday weight gain, starting now.
Many of us are not aware of when and why we eat. We often eat mindlessly. What this means is that we snack on what’s available, frequently for reasons other than hunger. We eat when we’re bored or lonely or stressed. We eat to celebrate and we eat to console ourselves. The starting point for fighting holiday weight gain is becoming more mindful of when, why, and what we eat. This can be accomplished by keeping a food journal for a month. The point here is not to keep track of calories but of feelings. Before you eat anything, even a snack, you need to record the time, what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, and what you’re about to eat. This will help you figure out what motivates your eating habits aside from hunger.
The next step is to get rid of the junk food and replace it with healthy food. Throw out (or give away) the chips and candy. Salt and sugar are problematic in many ways, but one of the key problems is that eating these things makes your body want more of them. You’ll need to go through two to three days where you’ll really crave salty and sweet foods, but if you resist for those three days you’ll find the cravings leave you.
Next, you’ll need to replace the unhealthy food with healthier choices. Have salads in the refrigerator and take them with you for lunch at work. Keep some fruit options (apples, oranges, grapefruit) available for snacking. And when you eat meals, work on smaller portions on your plate.
Finally, try to get into an exercise routine if you are not already working out consistently. If your doctor says you are fit for cardio work, aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio work three times a week. This has the added benefit of helping you sleep better and feel better so you get a triple benefit.
If you start now you will be one of the people in the minority who can survive the holidays without weighing more than you do right now.