Published December 1, 2009

Back Away from the Turkey

by Helen M. Ryan

You might feel like a deer in headlights when you look down: Frozen, in shock, unable to believe what you are seeing or avert your gaze. What is happening? The numbers on the scale are creeping up...up...up  And it's not even Christmas yet.
Many a client and friend complained to me this week that their pants are already tight, with only one Holiday down and the major one still to go. None of us truly dare get on the scale lest we are forced to face the truth: What we did to ourselves. (Overate.) And the reason why. (Because it felt good and we were powerless to stop.)

I ate pretty decently and semi-healthy on Thanksgiving (veggie burger, portabella mushrooms and fresh veggies) with the exception of the three large, super delicious, fattening yet yummy buttered biscuits and a child-size hot fudge Sundae. Friday I was back on the Spin bike, co-teaching a 2-hour Spinning® class, all proud of myself.

Saturday I fell apart and ate everything that was not nailed down.
Sunday I started out with a healthy  morning that graduated into leftover pizza, brownies, ice cream and chips.

So what did I do then? Got back on track the very next day, feeling better and less bloated in only two days. It's not too late for you, either.

How to get back on track?

1. Resume exercising. Immediately. Exercise makes you feel healthier, which in turn can help you eat healthier. So what if your gym clothes are tight and you feel like a heffer? Get back in there - today. Show yourself that you have what it takes to wrest the control back.

2. Drink lots of water. Too many sweet and salty foods, combined with alcohol, can make you dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, you can feel hungry and tired. And when you are hungry and tired, you start eating. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, and a simple glass of water (or unsweetened sparking water) can help.

3. Fill up on fresh fruit. To ease that post-Holiday gnawing in your stomach, eat some fruit. Fruit contains vitamins, minerals, water, fiber and even natural sugars (mmm). It's healthy, not man-made, and pretty tasty, too. It might not be as good as a cookie, but you can pronounce all of the ingredients.

4. Don't beat yourself up. Look at your whole week, not just one or two days. If you can manage to eat healthily and squeeze in some exercise before and after the eating spree then all is not lost. Don't knock yourself or your willpower. Your inner voice will hear you. Tell yourself you rock, you had fun, and now it's time to take care of your health again.

5. Eat lightly before and after, and allow yourself some cheating room. If you eat leanly for six days before the Holidays and splurge that one day, it really won't make much of a difference. You have to enjoy life, too. Just don't let your one day become several days or an entire week.  That's where the real damage happens.
We all have three simple choices every week:

  1. Gain weight
  2. Lose weight
  3. Maintain weight.

Aim for number 2 before each Holiday and number 3 around the Holidays. Remember that every day we have new choices to make, and every day is a new chance to change your life - for better or worse. Your call.

Q: Are you back on track? How did you do over the Holidays? What tips do you want to share (no need to register to comment.)