My personal record for holiday weight gain is 10 pounds in one week.
Which, for my five foot six inches, 135 pound frame of the time, was considerable.
I have struggled my entire life with my relationship with food. I was clinically obese from age 8 to 20. So, I know a lot about how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose. I have learned many rules, tips, and tricks when it comes to managing my weight. The month of December is a great time to dust off that list and start practicing preventative weight management.
In fact, I guarantee that we will lose weight if we practice number 10.
Tips to manage our weight during the holidays.
1. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
How each of us define minimum is entirely up to the individual. For me, this means keeping to a strict one drink maximum and only at holiday parties or gatherings. No solo drinking. No going crazy at the office party open bar.
2. Eat mandarin oranges, not cookies.
Try mindful eating. As you peel your mandarin, notice how the sweet citrusy spray is liberated into the air and wafts into your nose. Notice the beautiful geometry of the fruit as you peel a segment free. Close your eyes and pop it into your mouth, biting down gently and savoring the juicy wave as it crashes against your tongue. Bliss.
3. Cheat day!
This is my favourite tip for anyone on any weight reduction scheme. The cold turkey, orthorexic approach to diet modification rarely works. I like to assign a day of the week as a cheat day and fill my plate, both metaphorically and literally. Cheat day is a perfect time to try out Nancy’s gingerbread cookies or eat the sugar sprinkled gum drops lurking about the office.
Note: Cheat day is not a 24-hour binge session, it begins at dawn and ends when we go to bed. (Actually, it is always preferable to stop eating three to four hours before bed so one can digest enough to get a good sleep.)
4. Go play outside.
It may be cold and/or rainy and/or snowy and/or dark and/or we are nursing a cold. Go play outside anyway.
5. Practice yoga.
A regular yoga practice is a helpful way to slim and strengthen the physical body. I struggle with attending studio classes for many reasons, so I like podcasts. I have been practicing yoga for just over seven years and highly recommend these teachers, who give excellent instruction and postural modifications as they go. I always keep a few yoga classes on my iPod so I can practice anywhere. (Fortunately leggings are required at all times here in British Columbia so I don’t need to coordinate a Superman-style wardrobe change.)
By the by, a yoga mat is a luxury, not a necessity.
Daily meditation practice helps lift the heart and mind. Whenever we meditate, we gift ourselves the opportunity to let go of something that weighs us down. I like to meditate in the same spot; this creates a habit and I find that I settle into my practice faster and more easily when I am consistent in how I sit.
7. Take a 30 minute walk every day.
I like to do this during my lunch hour so I can enjoy the sunshine. It gets my blood flowing, is a great source of oxygen and allows sunshine to hit the pineal gland, thereby keeping the body’s biorhythms in tune. All three of these are important counter-balances to the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which are known for their association for overeating.
8. Be creative.
Whether our passion is trimming the tree, playing the guitar, doing holiday crafts with the kids, or bustin’ a groove, we all have creative energy within us just waiting to flow and connect us to our joy.
9. The best things in life are free.
Despite the advertising machine’s best efforts, I am not convinced that the best gifts are bought in stores. Both of my grandmothers tell me every year that they already have everything they need, that they do not want gifts and that the greatest gift of all is quality time spent with loved ones. Listen to the wisdom of our elders. Perhaps our friends and family would prefer quality time, words of encouragement, physical contact or acts of service to expensive gifts. Filling ourselves with meaningful experiences will keep us from filling up on holiday sweets.
10. Banish the word “should.”
This is the fastest way to lose weight.
We can forget all the stuff we think or have been told we should do for the holidays and do what we truly want to do. I’ve discovered that as I spend more of my time living a life that lights my fire, old stagnant weight melts away without any effort at all.
Wishing you a healthful and lighthearted holiday season.
Author: Mareena Dufault
Image: Daily Mail
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock