Surviving and Thriving during the Holidays

Surviving and Thriving during the HolidaysHolidays….hmmm. What can I say? They can be magical, glorious, stressful, depressing, anxiety provoking, lonely, tiring, and every other emotion as well. From a weight loss and maintenance perspective, they can definitely be CHALLENGING.  But they don’t have to be.  Here are some thoughts on how to thrive and succeed this holiday season.

Weight Loss Plans

When you are on a weight loss journey, you still have to live your life. Too much restriction can make us weary and lead to what I refer to as “revenge eating” later.  On the other hand, if you are one of my “black-and-white” folks (you know who you are), then stick to your plan as you normally would, but have a back up just in case you are pressured to eat.

The key to weight loss success over the holidays is planning ahead, and managing expectations. Regardless of your plan, lean protein and veggies over the holidays is always a safe bet.  (If you are on a full, try to stay away from fat- as that can trigger a gall-bladder attack.). Go into the holidays with a plan and try to stick to it, but don’t beat yourself up if you are not perfect. Ask anyone in our clinic: if you maintain your weight loss over the holidays, you have succeeded.  If you continue to lose, you are a fortunate exception.

Maintenance Plans

For those of you on maintenance, meal replacements can be your best friend over the holidays. I strongly encourage you to use meal replacements around your holiday parties and feasts. Meal replacements minimize your calories during the day, and are likely to be a better choice than you would make on your own.

Regarding exercise, try to get a good workout in the day of the feast or event, so you have more wiggle room. As you know- exercise helps improve our sense of well-being (which may help us deal with our relatives…I’m just saying…) and also encourages us to make better choices throughout the day.

Holiday Tips to Insure Success!

Here are some tips you can share with your friends, and family….or not. Remember, it is all about YOU this holiday.

1. Go into the holiday parties or feasts with a realistic plan. 

If you are on full meal replacements and are comfortable continuing that with the company around you, then do so.  If you would prefer to be discreet, think of bringing a veggie tray that you can munch on. Week 1 of transition is protein and veggies, so if you need to eat what is passed at a meal, feel free to take lean protein and vegetables that are not in a creamy sauce, salad with balsamic vinegar etc.  If you are on a partial, use meal replacements before and after the even, and watch the carbs and sweets during the party. Try to document the best you can, even if it is just mentally. It will keep you honest.

2.  Watch the alcohol

Research has shown that we eat more when we drink alcohol, because we become less inhibited when we drink. Therefore, we have to account for the calories of the alcohol plus the calories of the extra food we take in. Try downsizing your glasses. Mentally, we like to fill space.  Filling up a smaller glass helps us control that urge.

For those on full meal replacements, I must warn you that you are a light-weight! One drink is like three to your body- keep that in mind if you indulge.

3. Don’t let the holi-day turn into a holi-week

Especially for those on a weight loss plan, it is so important to get right back on track the day after the event.  Do not deviate! Next year is a different year, but this holiday is all about YOU, your body, and your health!

4. Choose some non-eating events this holiday

There are some great movies out this X-mas. Go see a movie, go bowling with your family or friends, or just bundle up and take a walk at night to look at the holiday lights. Learn a new non-eating trait, such as woodworking, knitting, horticulture (thank you Susan Parker for teaching us the benefits in group!), or anything that gives you pleasure that does not involve food.

5.  Remember how to fill your plate

Picture dividing your plate in half.  On the first half, put your salad and veggies. On the second ½, fill 2/3 with lean protein. The last 1/3 is left for your carbs so chose carefully.

6.  Don’t forget the three bite rule.

I am sure you have heard me say this before- but use the three bite rule for desserts.  You can have three bites of anything. That tends to saturate the receptors of your limbic system (that reward center of your brain that is always looking for pleasure).  What does that mean? Regardless of how much you eat, you will never get that “first bite sensation” after the third bite. (To your limbic system, it might as well be broccoli.)

7.  Celebrate Your Success.

Please take time this holiday season to celebrate your success.  Think about where you were last year at this time. Are you off some medications?  In a different clothes size? Using a smaller belt?  In a generally healthier space?  Take some time to celebrate that!

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy (belated) Chanukah, and a very relaxing holiday season!!  Never forget how amazing you are, and how much you mean to us!

We are here for you always,

– Doc and the  Medical Weight Loss Team