“Eat, papa, eat!” by Fat Girl Fights Back
This line from the infamous Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, when Mrs. Claus tries to plump up Santa before his big night, pretty much sums up my typical holiday season. Did you know the average American gains five to eight pounds from Halloween to Christmas? I learned that statistic while sitting in Anatomy and Physiology class the week before Halloween. Most of us can probably agree we have been included in that statistic one year or another.
Several Christmases ago, my mother decided to make homemade fudge and I dare to say I gained eight pounds from the peanut butter variety alone! I refuse to allow that to happen this year but I also do not want to go through the holiday season feeling deprived. It is a time to celebrate, not live in a state of yearning and dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, how do we do it? How do we make it through the holiday season, happy AND healthy?
I am starting my plan now. I often write about how essential planning is for a successful weight loss journey. Over the last six months, it was always the weeks with less planning that I saw a gain on the scale. You CAN make it through the holidays without putting on those eight pounds, but still enjoy the goodies of the season! I’m starting my plan now.
- Give those recipes a facelift! The first thing I am doing may seem obvious, but is often overlooked or perhaps seen as not an option for traditional favorites. I am digging out my family recipes that will be included in our holiday meals and revitalizing them with whole grains, reduced fats and increased fiber. I know I can slim down the calorie counts and still make delicious meals. Many reduced fat soups work wonderfully in casseroles in place of the full fat traditional soups and many reduced fat cheeses can be substituted in cooking. They taste as good as their full-fat cousins. Therefore, you do not have to give up on those family favorites or shrinking your waistline!
- Reduce your traditional menu and help your community. In these difficult economic times, there is great need at local food banks, more so now than ever. Commit to reducing your holiday dinner menu and then donate the equivalent to a local food bank. My family often goes all out for our holiday meals. We prepare a volume of food that would even intimidate Joey Chestnut (four time Nathan’s Hot Dog eating champion). Rather than feeling like we need to eat seven different side dishes, we will make less, eat less and feed someone in need. It is a win, win situation!
- Wear a daily reminder. Several weeks ago, after completing my first 5k and losing 35 pounds, I rewarded myself with a Pandora bracelet. Everytime I look at it I am reminded how far I have come and how much further I have to go. I wear it on my right hand so everytime I reach for something, there it is. It really helps me stay focused and I love the way it shines!
- Bring your own healthy options. If you are invited to a gathering, and asked to make a covered dish, make something delicious and healthy! Use one of the recipes you recently changed and go for it. Additionally, bring some fresh veggies or salad. While no one wants to chow down on a holiday meal full of salad, you can use it as a filler to decrease the amount of bad options consumed. I actually use this on a daily basis and really miss having those fresh veggies if they are not included in a meal. At the meal, fill most of your plate with your healthy options and select controlled portions of the goodies.
- Water is your friend. Set a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day with 32 of those consumed before noon. With many holiday functions happening in the afternoon, the extra water in the morning can help you stay satisfied. Our bodies can mix signals and the “I’m thirsty” signal can be crossed with the “I’m hungry” signal. Avoid this completely by keeping yourself well hydrated.
- Put the fork down and mingle. If you are talking, you are not eating, hopefully. Between bites, physically put your fork down and engage in conversations. This will work two-fold as the more you speak, the less you eat and it allows time for your brain to catch up with your stomach. It takes 20 minutes for the signal saying you have consumed enough food to reach your brain and communicate that you are full. You may find you feel very satisfied, still have quite a bit of food left on your plate at the end of the gathering and became the life of the party!
- Walk. It is a proven point that weight gain only happens when caloric intake is higher than caloric output. An easy way to increase the caloric output is add some additional exercise. During the holiday season, our time is stretched to the max, but that does not mean you cannot increase your activity. Shopping involves walking! If you make a trip to the mall, set a goal to walk a lap before you shop. This could even provide a little time to gather your thoughts and gain some gift ideas too! Use congested parking lots to your advantage and just grab furthest parking spot available – you turn a five-minute trip around the parking lot searching for a space into a heartrate pumping brisk walk. (Although, please use care if shopping alone and/or at night.)
- Complete a 5k for charity. ‘Tis the season of giving and what better way than to give to yourself as well as others than upping your exercise? There are many charity 5k’s during the holiday season, such as the Jingle Bell Run, which benefits the Arthritis Foundation. Sign up, walk, and get into the holiday spirit while enjoying the seasonal weather outdoors. I am already signed up for mine on December 18th and cannot wait!
Most importantly, have fun! I do not think it is wise for anyone go to into the holiday season with a goal of having a record weight loss. Set the expectation now. Perhaps you would like to just get through it and not gain. Perhaps you just want to reduce the amount of weight you normally would have gained – rather than eight pounds, you only gain two. Whatever it is, do not let the scale take the wind out of your sail. The holidays are far too short to not be filled with joy. Be prepared, bounce back and treasure the time you have with family and friends.
Bio: The Fat Girl is a 33-year-old wife and mother of three. She is a corporate communications manager for a Fortune 500 company and a full-time student pursuing a nursing degree. After a lifetime of obesity, she is fighting back with a goal to lose 230lbs through eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercise. You may follow The Fat Girl at www.fatgirlfightsback.com.