The Big Three holidays of the year are fast approaching: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. And we all know what that means: feasting on prime rib, roast turkey, honey-baked ham, starchy potatoes, stuffy stuffing, and sugary desserts. And don't forget those glasses of Cabernet, ales, and cheese platters.
Eating is a part of our culture. It brings families and friends together, and makes us feel good. But for those who are struggling with their weight, it can be a time for apprehension. Abandoning restraint at the dinner table this holday season can set a dieter back a couple of months, leading to discouragement and diminishing the chance for successful weight loss.
So what should you do? It all begins with the mindset. No diet out there will work if there is no purpose; no focus. Also, a diet plan is less likely to work if there is no support system. It's tougher to lose weight if you are all alone during the process than it is if you have someone you can call for support.
With that, here are some tips to help you make it through the holiday season:
1. Regularly remind yourself why you want to lose weight. Do this exercise daily: Vision yourself at your ideal weight. What would you do? How would you feel? The human mind responds more strongly to images than to words. Images invoke emotions; emotions invoke actions.
Reasons for achieving an ideal weight include:
- being able to wear certain types of clothes that you love
- being able to physically keep up with your active kids
- being able to engage in activities like hiking without feeling overly tired
- permanently getting rid of lower back, knee and feet pain (and chiropractor bills!)
- feeling lighter, healthier and more energetic
- feeling confident that you will enjoy a long life with your kids, grand kids and maybe even great-grand kids.
These things are basically priceless.
2. If you aren't already doing it, emphasize lean protein, greens, low glycemic carbs in moderation, and good fats in your diet. If you do this for a month, eating a high-carb meal will make you feel slow and lethargic and you will start to decrease your desire for carbs, which is a good thing.
3. Before going to a party where you know there will be lots of rich, high-calorie food, eat a big salad with a tablespoon of olive oil, and a lean protein item (about 6 oz.) one or two hours before the party. Also drink a tall glass of water to expand your stomach. This will de-sensitize your hunger reflex when you arrive, preventing you from over-eating.
4. Stick with small plates. Use your dessert plate as your main plate for the holiday dinners. It can be helpful in preventing you from over-doing it.
5. Keep yourself busy. Eating is something people do to pass time. Read, write a blog, exercise, participate in social groups. If you're idle, there is a tendency to want to move the masticator muscles, so watch out!
6. Know your BMI, or body mass index. The BMI can be used to assess a person's level of body fat based on his or her height and weight. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it correlates closely to direct measures of body fat. For adults, an ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. You can use a BMI calculator to find your's, or consult a chart.
I know it's not easy to do this during a festive time where "hearty" eating is a major part. Just do your best, and use the above tips to help you in your efforts. It all starts with having a purpose and maintaining focus. What you do not want to do is tell yourself that you will start being serious about your weight loss after January 1st as part of your New Years' resolution. That is basically conceding defeat and sets a bad precedent. Make it through the Big Three without gaining excess weight, and you've just taken a huge step towards reaching your goal.
I offer doctor-supervised weight loss and healthy living guidance at my clinic, The Well. We feature the MediFast 5&1 system with doctor support for permanent weight loss. For more information, call (925) 855-5525.