We are in the midst of the holiday season. Where you turn there are holiday parties, cookie exchanges, reasons to go out to drink and eat. The holidays are a great reason to enjoy foods that only come around once a year: the chestnuts, the hot mulled spiced wine, the chocolates and cookies, the starchy carbs… sure, they are delicious but if you overdo it then you know you will pay for it. Perhaps it’s time for a reality check to see if the holidays have to be a complete bust or if they are in fact just a time to enjoy yourself, relax a bit more, and socialize more with good people and good food.
When it comes down to it, how many occasions do you attend that include holiday treats? There’s the annual office holiday party, get-togethers with friends, the x-mas meal (hanukkah was early this year, so that isn’t even on the December schedule), the New Year’s eve drinks. You can probably count them on less than two hands. If you overeat on less than 10 occasions, then the whole month isn’t a bust. If you do overeat, then you can undo the carb load by going low-carb the next day and adding more intensity to your workout. Before you know it, you should have balanced out the previous day.
Why do people put on so many pounds over the holidays? Many of us have the ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude. We have one cookie and we might as well have the whole box because we already screwed up. We didn’t work out for 2 days in a row and we might as well not go for the whole week because we already didn’t make progress. We had too much to drink and we already weren’t perfect, so we might as well continue drinking. If you ever catch yourself thinking along those lines, then stop and think: One bad meal doesn’t make the whole week bad. One missed workout doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your muscle and got fat. A few drinks too many doesn’t mean you have completely failed and should wait until January 1st to clean up your act. If you act on the all-or-nothing attitude you are setting yourself up to go down the self punishment path. It will cause a lot of regrets when your pants don’t fit. Life isn’t all-or-nothing. It’s very much shaded in many different colors.
How should you enjoy the holidays? Pick and choose the foods you want to enjoy. Then, truly enjoy them. My favorite is Gluehwein, a hot mulled spiced wine that I enjoy on the weekend in front of my fireplace. It puts me in the spirit. I have it once or twice a week and makes me feel good. Should I deprive myself of it because it’s not on the fat loss program? No. I enjoy it and feel satisfied but I also know that I can only enjoy one or two cups before it affects me negatively, so I eat better when I drink and I work out a bit harder because I do not want to feel the negative effects.
I know that January is a great month to start over, but you don’t want to wait for the need to ‘start over’. You want to find a lifestyle that includes enjoyment.
Happy Holiday Season!