Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new member of the Fat-Burning team, Chris Walker. He also has his own (awesome) blog at NoGym.net. He’s a fellow brain geek and fitness junkie – expect great things with our powers combined. And in the meantime, enjoy the holidays!
There’s no denying it: the holidays are here.
Research, rumor, and anecdotal evidence predicts that we’ll each gain between 1-10 lbs. over the holidays. And that’s not really a surprise given the nutmeggy amazingness wafting in from the kitchen, the Christmas cookies, the cocktails, the pies… mmm pie.
We don’t want to gain weight; after all, we’ve been making steady progress with our diets all year…
And yet, we reach for the pie.
Here’s the problem: instead of being proactive about holiday decision-making we react after the damage has been done.
- You overeat, feel guilty, and try to exercise it off, vowing to ‘do better next time’
- You say you’ll just take your diet seriously on January 1st and just write the holidays off
The problem with these approaches is that they consistently reinforce negative behavior; it’s too easy to retroactively commit to “do better.” We also love to push our deadlines… suddenly it’s a year later and we still haven’t made any real progress.
Let’s take a look at why we might overeat during the holidays, beyond the fact that cookies are everywhere.
When family is close, drama isn’t far behind.
Drama causes stress, and suddenly that jug of eggnog and tray of sugar cookies seems really appealing. Emotional eating is rampant, especially during the holidays.
But remember, you always have a choice – and only you can make that choice. Our family members may be stressing us out but they aren’t forcing us to do anything we don’t want to do.
In most cases, our family members want what’s best for us. They also think they know what’s best for us.
And food gets personal. Many a family member and friend will question your decisions if ancestral or paleo eating isn’t “normal” or “healthy” in their worldview.
Many of us will take some flack for not wanting to eat one of Grandma’s big ol’ cinnamon rolls for breakfast – but hey, bless her heart for making them for you. People will get over the fact that you stand up for your food decisions, and – heck – they might even be inspired to take a close look at their own health, as well.
Always make the best decision for ‘you,’ not them. Its your body and you decide what and what not to eat. That fruitcake is stale, anyway.
How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining Weight
- Know your demons: acknowledge which foods might trigger a binge episode and do your best to dodge social situations that stress you out to the point of emotional eating or drinking.
- Have a plan: a solid plan is key to being proactive. What does a plan do for you? It teaches you to deal with overeating at any time of year, it takes away your guilt, it eliminates anxiety, and it allows for a more balanced approach to your eating and drinking.
- Separate your emotions from food: things may (will) get stressful. Don’t use food to cope. In your plan, figure out what you’re going to do if something stresses you out. How about a relaxing walk? A spot o’ tea? A Will Ferrell movie? Whatever you do, don’t impulse-grab at a plate of cookies and shove them in your face. Not worth it.
- Focus on satiety: During the big meals focus on eating to get full, not stuffed. You don’t necessarily need to be counting calories or analyzing the ingredients, just chill out and load your plate up with 80-90% meats and veggies – foods that will fill you up and satisfy you – then leave a little room to have a special treat or two, or nice big beer or cider. If your meal satisfies you, you’ll be much less likely to overeat.
- Relax: This time of year is meant to be enjoyed, not stressed about. So just chill as much as possible – it’s good for your health and, believe it or not, your relaxed aura will likely rub off on those around you and they will be more relaxed as a result. Good vibes are contagious.
The holidays are meant for enjoying time with friends and family and eating great food. Stick to a plan, eat the best healthy ancestral and paleo foods you can find, and leave some wiggle room for a couple of your favorite treats.
With a proactive approach – a plan and the right mindset – you likely will not gain a pound. And you’ll have a great holiday.
And remember, if you do overeat or “accidentally” binge on cookies, use those calories and carbs to fuel a killer workout. Play outside, hit the weights and get ripped, and hit the slopes and ride your sugar high down the mountain. Be active and use the cookie calories for good, not evil.
Hope this helps this year! And if you have any questions or comments just leave them in the comments section below – I’d be glad to address them.