Having a healthy holiday is possible.
Consider this: Many moons ago, I joined Weight Watchers (WW) at the most illogical time of year – the week of Thanksgiving 2006. At over 200 pounds, I proudly strolled into the local WW storefront, discretely gave them my name and my money, and stood on the scale to look at the horrific number. I then sat amongst my compatriots in the Battle of the Bulge to learn more about the weight-loss process.
Surprisingly, I stuck to my plan for six of the seven days of Thanksgiving week. Thursday was a wash which is to be expected, but I still managed to lose 7 pounds in the first week alone. Even though I fell off the wagon again and again after a few weeks, there were many healthy holiday lessons that I learned to implement consistently over time. These hard-earned lessons have allowed me to maintain my weight to, through, and beyond the holidays for the last five years.
There are only 5 rules that I use for every holiday season so that I can have some fun, enjoy my family, and maintain my level of fitness and wellness:
5. Treat holidays as one day only!
Yes, I used to be one of those individuals who would eat all week long. If Christmas was on Tuesday, I ate Tuesday through Friday. Thanksgiving is always on Thursday, so I would eat Thursday through Sunday at the very least. Naw, that ain’t gonna work. I know, your family or friends may want to shove leftovers into your hands to let this foolishness carryover for another week post-holiday. Some family members may even be insulted that you won’t eat more of their food, especially when you’re making prudent decisions on portion sizes. As with most cultures, food can be considered a love language. Give yourself license to have your ONE DAY of holiday food – ONLY Thanksgiving Thursday…ONLY Christmas Day…ONLY New Year’s Day – whatever day you celebrate, limit the food to a 24-hour period. A holiday can easily be a designated cheat day, but no more than that.
4. Run uphill
Meaning, as with most holidays, we know the dates. Consider your entire holiday calendar, your family celebrations, your company parties, loved ones’ birthdays, and other days that focus on food as part of the fun. For the weeks and days approaching these important moments, continue to keep your exercise regimen and nutritional needs near the top of your priority list. It feels so satisfying sit down and eat your holiday meal as a reward for being consistent prior to your important day with your loved ones. Consistency is a superpower, so use it.
3. Stock up on snacks
During the holidays, we very rarely have control over our meal schedule as we would on the average day. So, it will be crucial that you maintain healthy snacks at work, in your bag, at home, or in your car. Ain’t nobody got time to swallow a meal whole because you’ve gone way too long between meals. Overeating can happen simply by virtue of timing. You cannot control everything, but be proactive where you can. Keep snacks and mini-meals handy to kill the hunger even when you’re a tad off schedule.
2. Water: Keep drinking it
Yes, I know we should drink water on the average day but often folks don’t want to drink water during the winter months. Continue to chug-a-lug. The nutritional properties are endless for the skin and hair. Also, think about your favorite holiday foods and alcohol may be on the menu. Continue to chug-a-lug during this time. In this way, you will continue to stay hydrated and curb hunger by having a belly relatively full of fluids to help with digestion.
1. Embrace the naysayers
Inevitably, there will be family and friends who may have snarky comments and remarks over the holiday about your lifestyle. You’re the only one eating most of the vegetables. You’re the only one who is drinking water throughout the holiday. You’re the only one who’s taking a quick walk around the block between servings. That’s OK — embrace it. I am not expecting your entire household, family, or cadre of colleagues to have the same holiday mindset as we have. However, you MUST get comfortable with being the outlier of the group. It’s OK to do your own thing. Your goals may be different from most, but that’s perfectly fine. Own it and keep winning to and through your holiday season.
Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold writes monthly for Crush Magazine AND…she’s a U.S. Masters Swimming Certified Coach, Triathlete, Marathoner, Author, Blogger, Educator, & BoyMom, Owner & Founder of SHEro Athletics, LLC.
More from our columnist: