I feel like it is a pretty safe assumption to make that many people who are trying to lose weight, live a healthier lifestyle, or whatever health goal have found that the holiday season has, at one point or another, been their undoing. I feel comfortable making this assumption because this has been true for me twice. Before this 75 pound and multi inch loss I tried twice before to attain a healthier size. The first time was in college. I managed to lose 15 lbs my sophomore year, and after Thanksgiving I gained 5 of it back, and that was it. The second time was after I graduated college. I managed to lose 20 pounds, and by the following Christmas I managed to put 12 of it back on, and 6 years and 1 child later had packed on another whopping 47 pounds (yikes!) This is my first holiday season since finally shedding ALL of the fat that I had ever wanted to lose, so naturally I’ve been working to not let history repeat itself. Not to mention, I LOVE HOLIDAY FOOD. (Can you hear me now?) I love it. Planning a Thanksgiving menu is up there with Christmas morning for me. I love making cookies, candy, and fudge for Christmas! I love the flavors and decadence that come with this time of year. How in the world was I ever going to make it?
Well, my dear readers, I am pleased to announce that for the first time ever I have managed to enjoy the food that I love, and NOT gain any fat. That’s right people! I am the same size and weight now that I was in October. I have actually figured out a way to balance things out, and since this is, to me, a very important accomplishment, I am going to share my methods and tips with you. So without further ado I give you “The Unapologetic Mom’s Guide to Enjoying and Surviving the Holidays.”
One thing that is important to note is that those other two times when I lost weight my method was fundamentally flawed both times. I never really developed healthy living habits. The first time I just did my best to out exercise my bad diet, which is great when you’re 19, but not quite the same at 31. Not to mention that after Thanksgiving I never got back on the exercise bandwagon. Maintaining that level of exercise for an extended period of time, let alone forever, would have been impossible anyway. Exercise is important, but the most important thing is what you are eating. Which brings me to the second time that I lost weight. I counted calories. I gave myself 1500 calories per day, and there were some days where if I baked cookies, then all I would eat that day was 1500 calories worth of cookies. Besides being absolutely terrible for my overall health cookies are not a filling food. They don’t contain the essential nutrients that you need, and they do not keep your body properly fueled and satisfied. This time definitely is different. As stated in previous posts I’ve worked to develop healthier habits. I eat healthier foods and make smarter choices. I don’t count calories because it’s not a long time solution. I pay attention to what I’m eating and my portion sizes. I properly fuel my body.
So now that we’ve established the difference between the other times, and this time let’s repeat that step one is to keep up your healthy eating habits. If you indulge in a sweet, keep the portion size in check. Be mindful.
The other thing to do is to keep up your regular exercise routine. This doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you would like, but it does keep you in check to make sure that you are further keeping up your healthy habits. If you want to give yourself a pass on Thanksgiving or Christmas, that’s okay. But, a good rule of thumb is to never go more than two days without exercising. After that it gets really difficult to motivate yourself to start back up.
So now the important part...taking part in the holiday. Like I said before, I love holiday foods. I love making them. Some of the best memories are made over a double boiler of chocolate, and this year my daughter has been quite the sous chef. And let’s not forget about the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and the parties, and the food gifts! These can be a sugar and calorie filled minefield. So, here are my tips for indulging without going to excess.