It’s official, the Christmas season has started. Not sure how true this is, but I’ve heard that the average person gains 5-10 pounds between (American) Thanksgiving and the New Year. What even more discouraging is that, statistically in most cases, that weight is never lost.
Given your past, does that sound about accurate to you? As I look at past Christmas photos, that is pretty accurate for me. My saving grace has been my crazy New Year’s resolutions which I’m grateful that I’m able to lose the weight I’ve gained but the stress and pain of regret has not been worth it time after time.
From this year going forward, I would like to go into the New Year feeling at peace and not regretting that I’ve made a pig of myself over the holidays. My desire is to learn a spirit of moderation when it comes to food instead of always working hard to lose those extra pounds.
Whether you’re like me obsessing over a few pounds or over hundreds of pounds, the battle with moderation and self-control look very similar. We all experience feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, condemnation, failure and frustration with our own lack of will-power.
So what can we do to make sure that this Christmas season does not end up like all the rest?
Here’s my plan that I’m praying about. I hope you will join me:
- Focus more on people than food – I go through great lengths to make sure that I’m serving (and eating) all the decadent and visually impressive foods that I can think of. This year, I’m committing to putting that time into fellowshipping with people that I care for. I will make a special effort to spend more time with them and BE PRESENT when entertaining instead of worrying about whether or not they will be impressed with all the foods I’m serving. In fact, I’m planning to make simpler foods so I spend less time in the kitchen and more time with them.
- Exercise More – During the month of December, make an effort to move more. You will need to burn off the additional calories you’re consuming so think of exercise as your ‘get out of jail’ card. Understand that if you want to consume an additional 500 calories then you will have to burn it off by adding an additional workout that will total 500 calories. I like this strategy because it helps me to realize that every action has a consequence. Before I eat the extra piece of cake, I now have to ask myself if its worth an additional hour of exercise (or maybe I’ve already gotten an extra workout in, so now I can enjoy it guilt and worry free).Consider going for a walk after you consume a large meal. Raising your metabolism by walking after eating will help your body to burn off the additional calories a lot faster.
- Eat your Calories instead of Drinking Them – Christmas drinks like Egg Nog or even your Starbucks peppermint mocha can run you up a whopping 500 calories. Not to mention the alcoholic drinks. Liquid calories add up quickly and in most cases add very limited nutritional value so this year I’m going to limit my intake of drinks (Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). I’m going to make more spritzers with soda water and a touch of cranberry juice for colour and I will also increase my water intake so I will always have a drink in my hand to prevent me from indulging in a high calorie drink.
- Pray More – I don’t know about you but the busier life gets, the more prayer I need in my life. Unfortunately, the opposite often ends up happening. I feel like I’m too busy to pray. I have found that life often goes smoother, I have a better sense of self, more patience with others and more self-control when I start my day in prayer and when I remember to pray before going into a situation where the potential to sabotage my meal plan is high.
- Use your Calories Wisely – Lets face, the Christmas season IS a time to celebrate which often means, enjoying extra foods that you might not otherwise eat. Yesterday, my mom and I made out annual black cake (also known as rum cake or Christmas cake). This is about the only time of the year that I will eat it so I plan on having some. I plan on eating a lot of other foods that are special that I might only eat at this time of the year. I think those foods are worth (over)indulging in. Foods like potato chips, fast foods or other unhealthy foods are always available so why waste my calories on them? If I’m going to indulge then I want it to be worth it.I want to enjoy these foods without feeling any guilt or remorse because I know they are special. I know that they have been traditions in our family and will continue to be so I’m not going to deny myself of those.
- Remember, it’s NOT ‘All or Nothing’– When I was pregnant I gained a whopping 65 pounds. Why? Because I felt I had a licence to eat whatever I wanted, after-all, it was to nourish the baby. I sometimes get that feeling during Christmas too. I have a licence to eat because its Christmas. Besides come January 1st I’ll start starving myself anyway. Neither of these extremes are right and in fact, gaining and losing a lot of weight rapidly is very hard on your body.
- Make Healthier Alternatives This year started my low-carb. journey. I learned a number of ways to cut the calories and carbohydrate count in a lot of foods so I plan to ‘sneak’ in some of these new dishes this Christmas. I plan to eat more protein and good quality fats so I can feel more satisfied. For appetizers I will make dishes such as devilled eggs, guacamole dip and salmon croquettes. For side dishes, I will mix my mashed potatoes with cauliflower, roast sweet potatoes, zucchini and peppers and have more vegetables overall. Lastly, I will modify my baking recipes and use coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut flour whenever possible. To order our Healthy by Design 21 Day Meal Plan, please click here.
- Minimize Stress I understand that when I’m tired, hungry, stressed or overwhelmed, then I tend to crave junk food. It provides that instant feel good that I ‘need’ at that exact moment. For the first time (ever) I’ve finished my Christmas shopping before December, I’ve baked, I’ve planned Christmas dinner and I’m also committed to staying on budget because I understand that over-spending also causes me more stress which can trigger emotional eating.
I encourage you to know what the stressors will be during Christmas and do your best to minimize them so you won’t end up stuffing yourself to numb the feeling.
So there are my 8 strategies. Please share some of your strategies with me and lets help each other to start 2015 feeling empowered, inspired and proactive instead of performing post-Christmas catch up.