It’s official, the Christmas season is in full swing!
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’s even more discouraging is that, statistically, in most cases, that weight is never lost.
Given your past, does that sound accurate to you?
As I look at past Christmas photos, that is pretty accurate for me. My saving grace over the years were insane workouts and crazy New Year’s resolutions which helped me to quickly lose the extra holiday pounds. But as I age, it’s getting harder and harder each year.
Thankfully over the last couple of years, I’ve learned how to submit my health and weight to God. The result has been amazing. I now go into the New Year feeling at peace and not regretting that I’ve made a pig of myself over the holidays. My prayer is to have a spirit of moderation when it comes to food instead of always working hard to lose those extra pounds.
Whether you’re like, working hard to release the last few pounds, or you still have 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 willpower.
So what can we do to make sure that this Christmas season doesn’t end up like all the rest?
Here are some changes that I’ve made over the last couple of years and will continue to practice. I hope you will join me.
1. Focus more on people than food. I used to go to 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.
2. 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 burn 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 it’s 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.
3. Eat your calories instead of drinking them. Christmas drinks like egg nog, or even your Starbucks peppermint mocha can run up to a whopping 500-1000 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 color. 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.
4. 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. However, I have found that life often goes smoother when I start my day in prayer. I have a better sense of self, more self-control, and more patience with others when I remember to pray before going into a situation where the potential to sabotage my meal plan is high.
5. Use your calories wisely. Let’s face it, the Christmas season IS a time to celebrate, which often means enjoying extra foods that you might not otherwise eat. Every Christmas my mom and I made our 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 also 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 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. They have been traditions in our family and will continue to be, so I’m not going to deny myself those.
6. Remember, it’s NOT ‘all or nothing’. When I was pregnant, I gained a whopping 65 pounds. Why? Because I felt I had a license to eat whatever I wanted. Afterall, it was to nourish the baby. I sometimes get that feeling during Christmas too; that I have a license to eat because it’s 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.
7. Make healthier alternatives. Over the last couple of years, I learned how to cut down on starchy carbohydrates. I learned a number of ways to cut the calories and carbohydrates 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 deviled eggs, guacamole dip, and salmon croquettes. For side dishes, I will mix my mashed potatoes with cauliflower and have roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini and peppers, and more vegetables overall. Lastly, I will modify my baking recipes and use coconut oil, coconut sugar, and coconut flour whenever possible.
8. Minimize stress. I understand that when I’m tired, hungry, stressed, or overwhelmed, I tend to crave junk food. It provides that instant feel-good that I ‘need’ at that moment. For the first time ever, I’ve finished the majority of my Christmas shopping before December; I’ve planned what I will be baking; I’ve planned Christmas dinner; and I’m committed to staying on budget because I understand that overspending causes me more stress that can trigger emotional eating. I also understand how exercising helps to combat stress, so I’m doing that at least 5 days per week.
I encourage you to know what your stressors will be during Christmas, and do your best to minimize them so you won’t end up stuffing yourself into numb unhappy feelings.
So these are my eight strategies. Please share some of your strategies with me and let’s help each other to start 2018 feeling empowered, inspired, and proactive instead of performing post-Christmas catch up.
P.S. if you are tired of circling the same mountain over and over and want a Christ-centered approach to lasting weight loss without feeling guilty, deprived, or overwhelmed, be sure to sign up for our video course program right away at cathymorenzie.com