Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the December holidays are upon us. This is no time for regrets for eating too much turkey–there is much work to be done before the holiday parties are in full swing. Forgive yourself for eating all of that stuffing and mashed potatoes. Forget about the extra piece of pumpkin pie and chocolate meringues that seemed to disappear into your mouth. There is nothing that we can do about Thanksgiving, but today is a new day. It is the perfect opportunity to commit to a new set of goals for ourselves.
New Year’s resolutions happen on January 1. On that one day of the year we are positive that the year to come will be different from all others. Let’s reframe this whole notion of resolutions and become realistic about our behavior. New Year resolutions are just another way of thinking about how we would like to be in the future and setting those goals appropriately. Why wait? Begin the month of December by promising yourself that you will do things differently.
Losing weight is about awareness and changing behavior that no longer works for us. It’s about being mindful and attentive, and it is about putting yourself first and taking care of what you need. The holidays are also the most stressful time of year, and food often makes us feel better when we are stressed out. Permanent weight loss is about a change in lifestyle.
December offers a myriad of parties. There are more eating-drinking events in December than any other time of year. In addition to the abundance of parties, our workplaces overflow with chocolates and cookies. Don’t my friends know not to give me those great big baskets of food? Sure, they are beautiful and delicious, but then I feel compelled to eat them. This year no food basket will enter my home. Instead, I am giving it to a local food bank, and I know that they will not only enjoy it but also appreciate it.
1. Exercise. I know you’re probably too busy to exercise. You need to get that extra gift for your neighbor or you forgot to buy something for your child’s teacher, and there isn’t any time to work out. I used to think that if I didn’t have an hour to work out than I wouldn’t do it at all. That is faulty thinking. A twenty-minute walk is better than nothing at all. And if you walk outside you get lots of fresh air and feel invigorated. If you are exercising, you will think twice before eating that extra butter cookie that you really don’t want. If you do eat that extra dessert, then exercising will help burn off those additional calories.
2. Schedule your exercise. If it’s marked on your calendar, then you are more likely to do it. Find a class that you really enjoy and just go!
3. My trainer, Holly, told me to track my food. Another burden! But it works. At first I was resistant, but as I started to write down everything that I put into my mouth, I realized how many calories I was eating without being aware.
4. Eating mindfully. Slow down when you eat. Enjoy the flavors of the food and stop eating when your stomach says it has had enough. Eat only those foods you really love. Don’t waste calories on something that isn’t absolutely terrific. Save that extra portion for another day. And don’t let yourself get extra hungry. Keep a healthy snack on hand so that you are always prepared.
5. Limit your alcohol consumption. The eggnog and spiked hot chocolate drinks pack a lot of non-nutritive calories. Try a wine spritzer instead or opt for some sparkling water with cranberry juice.
6. Manage your stress. Being with family and shopping for holiday gifts often produces stress. Find some time every day to be alone. Try five minutes of sitting quietly in a room by yourself with your eyes closed. Take some deep breaths. You will feel refreshed. We also tend to eat more when we are stressed. Be aware and don’t pop an extra piece of chocolate as you would an aspirin. Get enough sleep. It’s harder to deal with life’s challenges when we are tired.
7. Remember to enjoy yourself. Choose one party to have an extra treat and know that it was planned and that you are okay with it.
So, be kind to yourself. Be aware and mindful. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Decide to take care of yourself this month and see how it feels. Once you develop new habits and routines, you will be thankful and love yourself even more. Decide that the changes you begin to make in December will continue for the rest of your life. Happy and healthy holidays.