Disclaimer: You won’t “get fat” just from one holiday, though your negative self talk might make you feel that way!
For years I struggled with the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays.
During this time, I was really trying hard to control what I was eating in attempts to lose weight. And during the holidays, all hell would break loose. I’m serious.
I’d try to eat super healthy, which in reality meant “not enough.” And of course, because I wasn’t eating enough, the temptation of all those wonderful Christmas treats was too strong to stand against. I’d break down and eat #allthecookies.
I’d overeat and then feel awful, both physically and mentally, resolving to run for hours on the treadmill the next day. And if I skipped my workout, I’d feel even worse.
Any of this sound familiar?
It’s really a terrible thing. Beating yourself up for what you ate and failing to stick to your plan to look like a supermodel by next year. Would you tell a friend that she’s a bad person for enjoying a Christmas treat? Why should you treat yourself any differently?
You might feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about to other people about it, thereby further isolating yourself. It’s a terrible cycle that a lot of women get caught up in. And yet it’s Christmas. A holiday to be thankful, happy, hopeful, and joyful with your loved ones.
So here’s how you do it.
I mean practice not restricting yourself, practice moderation, and practice intuitive eating. Start with one day and let yourself eat what you want. I’m not telling you to all out binge. I am telling you to try to choose healthier, high protein options, but don’t say no to the things you really like.
For instance, have a slice of cheese on your sandwich, a mid-afternoon snack when you’re hungry or a small bowl of ice cream after dinner. It won’t be easy at first and you might have a hard time letting go or not eating everything in sight.
Just remember that your body is smart. It gets hungry when it needs sustenance and it’s not when it doesn’t need anything. Just don’t fill your body with crap and it won’t give you false signals. Drink lots of water, avoid too many artificial sugars (I love my sugar-free pancake syrup but choose to avoid Diet Coke) or real sugar and choose colorful fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grain carbs and healthy fats.
I understand that you’re trying to lose weight, but painfully restricting doesn’t work. You can still lose fat, eat a moderate amount of dessert and not be hungry all the time. But back to the strategy- we’re practicing intuitive eating and giving ourselves grace. Do this a few times a week leading up to Christmas and don’t beat yourself up for your choices.
Get your workout in
Studies have shown that working out increases the likelihood of you choosing healthy options. I think thats true and I also believe that exercise makes us happy.
It releases dopamine, aka “happy chemicals,” in our brains that make us feel good. So get your workouts in the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas Eve. Everyone wants to enjoy their family on Christmas day, so make that your rest day.
Moderation Moderation Moderation
Are those cookies staring at you the days leading up to Christmas? Put them out of sight.
Are they still burning a hole in the back of your head? Have one!
I love sugar, well I think a lot of us do, and I have a treat about every other day leading up to Christmas. Our bodies always strive for homeostasis and can adapt to a certain influx of calories, so I don’t believe that will make you gain weight as long as you aren’t overdoing it.
I don’t know what your traditions are, but for Christmas Eve we always have a nice dinner with extended family. We open presents, have dessert and lots of wine. Christmas Day involves a fancy breakfast (meaning an egg casserole and sweet rolls) and a big turkey dinner around lunch-time.
That’s a lot of temptation in a short amount of time. You can’t say no to everything, especially if a lot of these dishes are your favorite. So have some! Not a lot, but you don’t need much to be satisfied.
My plate usually has a boatload of turkey, a roll (bread is seriously my favorite), and whatever veggies we have. If I’m still hungry from taking small portions, I’ll eat some veggies from the fridge while we clean up after the meal.
Our family always makes the same desserts and since they aren’t chocolate, I’ve realized that they aren’t my favorite and I don’t have to eat it just because it’s Christmas. But if I do really want some, I’ll have a small slice of pie or Christmas cookie.
I don’t have to eat it just because it’s Christmas
I skip the sweet rolls on Christmas morning and load up on the protein. For my family, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t want to eat something, although they might tease me quite a bit for being healthy. I’ll make myself some toast or eat some veggies instead.
Pick your battles
I choose wine or I choose dessert, but not both.
Alcohol completely stops any fat burning. And any extra calories I consume go straight to my thighs, so I choose one or the other. You don’t have to do this, especially if you aren’t over-consuming both, but it’s a strategy I highly recommend.
Related: 22 Alternatives to Alcohol
Get back to the grind
Don’t let lingering Christmas food drag out past the holiday.
Toss the cookies or give them away.
Don’t eat the fatty foods left over from meals.
Get up early for your workouts.
Basically, it’s not Christmas anymore so get back to real life. #toughshit
Christmas doesn’t have to full of internal beatings for succumbing to temptation. Employ these strategies, don’t focus too much on food, and try to direct your attention to your family and the hope and joy of the season.