I am often asked for advice on how best to meet the daunting challenge of managing weight during the lengthy period of holiday temptations.
Does your take on the holidays agree with the thinking of most Americans? That temporal over indulgence in this long season is a part of, if not essential to, proper celebrations? Indeed, perhaps access to the elements of overindulgence and excesses is in itself something for which most Americans feel grateful. If so, does it not seem natural that you would find it hard to “stay on track?” Buying into this popular way of thinking about the season, you probably have little interest in changing your perspective on how to celebrate and, thus, pretty much have to resign yourself to adding a few pounds.
However, if you want this holiday season to be different, I suggest there are two kinds of strategies for dealing with these matters. One is to steel yourself against the lure of the sirens of gustatory pleasures and fight the good fight (short term); the other, to eliminate the problem once and for all.
You are surely familiar with resolutions and actions that go with the first strategy. They include, but are not limited to, developing a plan for the holiday at hand. Identify your limits. Reduce temptations. Limit portions. Eat some healthy low-calorie foods BEFORE you go to the festive dinner at Grandma’s. Choose more of some and less of other foods when at the table, and so on. As you might imagine, I find these steps to be little tortures.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel bound to these traditions and their unpleasant consequences and if you feel you have the capability to self manage for optimal health and fitness–including psychological benefits, then there is a major alternative. The lifelong solution! This other option is a simple but effective strategy that could put an end to your holiday season travails and put the old kibosh to cyclical weight gains forevermore. Is this alternative for you? I hope it is.
Of course wellness seekers and enthusiasts of all kinds also find the holiday season to be a time of great opportunity to eat and drink too much; and sleep, relax, and exercise too little. But, unlike most, they have a greater reservoir of resources both psychological and physical (i.e., are in better shape) and are thus more motivated to make better choices. The perspective, mindset, skills and mental discipline attendant upon a commitment to a wellness lifestyle will eliminate any need to concern yourself with holiday or other weight gains. The principal reason people gain weight during the holidays or any other time of year is because the value of being healthy, fit and lean is underemphasized. Without a great appreciation for the worth of looking and feeling great, why NOT eat and drink to excess? There is never a good enough reason at the ready, absent an enthusiasm for wellness. Without a passion for wellness results, the rewards of behaviors consistent with such outcomes are too few compared with the momentary gains of gustatory and other indulgences.
Whatever your current lifestyle, you can begin now to put yourself in a better position to manage effectively the situation you will face during the upcoming and all future holidays. Exercise vigorously on a daily basis (and especially before great epic feasts) and eat well nearly every day–if you want to overindulge once in a while, you won’t have to feel guilty or like a loser playing the up and down weight game.
Whichever strategy you choose, don’t overlook the point of it all: think about and be joyously appreciative of your opportunities, good fortunes and the wonderful people in your life–and be grateful. Happy holidays.