Wellbeing

Get Ready for the Holidays

The holidays won't sabotage your healthy choices, as long as you're prepared.

Last year, Terri took a new approach to celebrating the holidays. She knew she wanted to stick to her weight-loss plan, so she "rethought" her approach to big celebration days.

"Who says we have to celebrate by overeating?" she says. "Have the big dinner at your home, where you can control the food. Scale down the meal and go to the movies. Go outside and walk briskly while you're waiting for the turkey to cook. These are all things I did last year."

Terri had the right approach. Decide in advance how you'll make your weight loss plan part of the celebration this year, and you'll be able to ring in the new year on a winning note.

'Tis the season

Of course, it's not necessary (or practical, or effective) to completely change the way you celebrate the season. Holidays are about tradition, and if you don't feel like you can take part in the things you love most about them, you won't enjoy them. And there's no way to keep that up for a lifetime.

Instead, gear up by thinking about the non-food things you love about the holidays. How can you enjoy the season without losing sight of your goals?

The key, says Rachna D. Jain, PhD, a lifestyle coach and licensed psychologist, is keeping your approach simple and focused. "First of all, you might want to give yourself a bit of room in terms of whether you'll maintain or lose during the holidays," she suggests. If you've been working hard on weight loss for months and you know the holidays will be tough, maybe the trick is to lower your expectations. Then start picking up steam again in January.

Above all, don't give up. This is the time of year when it's easiest to throw in the towel. Think about what a difference to your determination it will make when January comes and you don't have to start all over again at square one!

Making a list, checking it twice

We asked Members what they'll do to keep their plan going through the upcoming holiday season. Here's their advice, along with some more tips from Jain:

  • Increase activity wherever possible: walking through the mall to find gifts, parking farther away from the store, taking a walk in the evening to de-stress.
  • Remember the HALT strategy: Before you eat, ask yourself whether you are eating because you are Hungry, Angry/anxious, Lonely, or Tired — and adjust your behavior accordingly.
  • Make sure that what you're eating tastes really good and is worth it to you. Don't eat dessert or extra servings just because they're there, and don't eat things you can eat anytime.
  • In buffet situations, scan all the food options before filling your plate. Be very clear and deliberate about what you're eating, and why.
  • Do it one meal at a time, one day at a time … even one hour at a time. And since this is the season of celebration, savor the good feelings that come from every minute you stay on track.