What to Expect When You’re Expecting…. to Lose Weight Over the Holidays

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Failure.

I’m not being pessimistic here, I’m being realistic. During this long season of festivity*, it’s a difficult enough task to not get sucked into the black hole of holiday goodies, and to think that we can try to avoid the goodies enough to actually lose weight is crazy-talk. My goal this year, and I’ve been told by my friends at the Wellness Center that it is a good goal, is to simply maintain.

This is a challenge that is compounded by the easy availability of all things deliciously associated with this time of year and by the generosity of my co-workers making and bringing sugary goodies to work and plunking them down on the communal table which is inconveniently located NEXT TO MY DESK (although, upon opening a box of chocolates for investigation, I discovered that they were shaped like bunnies and eggs. When questioned, the coworker who brought them confessed that they had been kicking around her house since Easter (she evaded my question of WHICH Easter) and they became immediately easier to resist). The challenge is not to turn down all treats, but to have enough presence of mind to eat only the ones you truly enjoy, and only in quantities you aren’t embarrassed to log into your MyFitnessPal account.

‘Tis the season to celebrate, and if you are going for total abstinence where the holiday cocktails and cookies are concerned, not only will you miss out on some really tasty things that maybe aren’t available year-round, but you will also probably not be invited to many holiday outings next year; when the goal is to eat drink and be merry, having a teetotaler around is kind of a downer. Save that stuff for the New Year, but do what you can to avoid blowing up like Violet Beauregarde a la “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

To get me to the other side of Christmas without packing on the pounds, I’ve been employing a few key strategies. The most important of these strategies is that I’m still making my workouts a top priority. Even if I can’t make it to the gym, I’m setting dates in my living room with Neila Rey, I’m trying to walk instead of drive whenever possible, and I’m setting my alarm so that, on days when I have time for the gym, I’m not tempted to sleep through my workout.

Another key to making sure I’m staying healthy through the holidays is eating a good breakfast. Sure I’d save myself twenty minutes by grabbing a pastry and coffee-to-go at the bakery on the corner, but my oatmeal with banana helps ease me into the day and makes sure I’m staying fuller longer than the pastry could and for half the calories. I’m also saving the treats for truly special occasions. While I could happily sip glühwein all by my lonesome as I work on chores around the house, I save it for when I’m out with friends. The same goes for my meals; when out with friends to celebrate the season, I’ll indulge, but for the quick lunch I grab at my desk or for a normal weeknight dinner with Don, I’m making healthy, veggie-laden meals.

I will not be fifteen, ten or even five pounds lighter on January second than I was at the start of the holiday season, but I’m confident that I also will not be five pounds heavier. Do yourself a favor and let yourself off the hook a little bit over the holidays; it is the time to indulge and celebrate the spirit of the moment. Stick with your workout routine as much as you can (and if you don’t yet have a workout routine, maybe you should try adopting one now instead of waiting until 1 January so it will be that much easier to kickstart your resolutions), eat a good breakfast, keep the treats as treats- don’t make them an all-day-every-day affair, and remember you are not obligated to eat a piece of fudge that somebody brought to the office unless you really, truly want to eat a piece of fudge.

 

 

*This long season of festivity extends from 31 October (or whatever the date is when you buy and begin to “sample” the candy for trick-or-treaters) to when the last of the leftovers are eaten sometime at the beginning of January. It is, as they say, not a sprint, but rather a marathon.

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