We usually blame our screens and seats, sometimes the portion sizes and treats, but any way you carve the pumpkin, October begins the season we EAT-EAT-EAT!
Whatever your normal food ‘n’ fitness routine, trying to navigate healthy eating during the Fall-idays can be more frightening than a James Wan film! Between the time of the pumpkin spiced latte’s emergence and the red cup’s recycling season, it’s estimated that Americans eat an average of 18-22,000 extra calories! (The breakdown: daily about 620 extra calories between Thanksgiving and New Years, and a whooping 5-7,000 in bonus calories in Halloween candy alone.)
So, we’re all looking at gaining 5-6 pounds? That sucks.
What can you do? You don’t want to miss out on the fun and merriment! (Or the Snickers and gravy–not together . . . or maybe together?) You’ve tried going to the parties with a healthy meal in your belly and downed the glasses of water between cocktails, but those tricks are no match for Brie en Croute or bacon wrapped anything. You want to enjoy the Fall-idays and eat, drink & be merry throughout the Christmas season without packing on the pounds. Is that too much to ask?
Most fitness professionals and food Nazis would say it is too much to ask: “No-can-do honey, stick to the broccoli pancakes n almond milk smoothies.” Well, I say bullshit. The polarization of self-care is killing us, literally. Our global problem with obesity and digestive disorders directly correlates with the amount of negative scrutiny about food and extremism between fitness fanaticism and complete inactivity. We’ve become phobic about food and can’t seem to balance between workout-Wonder Woman or couch surfing diva queen.
But I say you can enjoy and indulge during the holiday season and come out even-Steven on the scale and healthier in mind, body, and behavior.
First, refresh your thinking.
Nothing will change about your body or eating with the same mindset you have been hauling around most of your adult life. Your thinking is fat, judgemental, and inconsistent, and now your brain has entirely new section labeled “Evil Foods”. You must change your thinking about this subject if you ever want to change how you feel and act. Here’s how:
Change your story.
Fitness always happens first in your mind, then in your body. Healthy habits only stick with your brain in the game. If you have been telling yourself the same old story about how you don’t have time for exercise, you’re fat, or you always gain weight during the holidays, guess what? These are exactly what you will have again this holiday season.
Try the opposite this year: Tell a new story. Complain about how much weight you’re losing. Talk about how amazingly healthy everything you eat has become. Seek out the nutritional benefits of the foods you love and share them. Think differently; talk differently. Spark a new vibration around this topic and your feelings and behavior.
Second, relax! Love every minute of the holidays and treasure time & traditions with your peeps.
The fall and winter holidays represent some of the best things in life: self-expression, gratitude, love, friends, family, and new beginnings. Celebratory and traditional foods are tightly intertwined with all of these things and always have been for humankind, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Family recipes and traditions have immense socio-cultural value: your grandma joins you at the table when you pull out one of her recipes and share it with your family or friends. Share what you know of your family and cultural heritage or create a new traditional recipe that gets passed down (that you might share with future generations). This is life and it’s not to be missed.
Next, take different actions by renegotiating your actions.
1. Designate 1-2 days a week with “Party Rules”.
Also known as the 80-20 rule, Party Rules mean 1-2 days a week (20%) are special occasions and you eat whatever the hell you want. Which means the rest of the week (the other 80% of the time) you’re eating stellar (super healthy with loads of veggies, fruits, proteins and whole grains–you know the deal).
I love these rules! It is a great balance of healthy everyday habits (a majority of their time) with enjoying life’s special occasions (some of the time), when traditional foods or treats are something to enjoy without guilt. This can help you learn to balance your self-care, contain binging, and maintain and even lose weight.
2. Bag it! (with a Freezer Tummy)
During those 80% days, you might need a safety net–something to help get you through the temptation at the office Christmas party or grabbing something fried while shopping. A Freezer Tummy is the solution!
When you really want a giant macadamia nut cookie or greasy bacon cheeseburger–and it’s a Tuesday, a.k.a. 80% day–grab a ziplock or napkin (if you’re at an event) and wrap or bag that coveted item, shove it in your purse and save it for Saturday–one of your 20% days. Once home, place the item you bagged in a big Ziplock bag in your freezer. Put your name on it. Hide it behind the frozen peas from your roommates or spouse until your day off. You will feel a naughty sense of satisfaction knowing you alone have a pseudo-tummy holding those delectable items to enjoy later. (insert wicked laugh here) Bwahahaha!!!
It sounds so simple, because it is: take bites of exercise all day. Move. For 10 minutes. Just a couple times a day. Don’t make it a big deal or judge it as not enough or not really exercise. Movement is exercise and those who maintain exercise over a lifetime don’t do it hardcore, they do it consistently. Don’t change your clothes. Don’t go to the gym. Don’t get all sweaty and have to make a special trip or hire a personal trainer. This time of year do what you can. Go for a walk around your office building. Take the dog out for a piss. Dance to your favorite song in the bathroom. Do crunches during commercials. Just move.
Think about these numbers:
Dancing or planks during commercials (ave 60 min show) = 14+ min/day = 98 min/week
Walking around your office building for 5 min every hour = 40 min/day = 200 min/week
(P.S. Shopping is exercise!)
If you sweat all year, the holidays won’t be. One of my best and fittest friends, Valerie, never restrains herself during the holidays. We’ve agreed that one of the best things about choosing to make fitness a weekly habit is the holiday tidings it brings: we don’t have to worry about food or avoid life’s pleasures when they are presented. When you choose to live healthy and be fit all year long, you can enjoy life without being a fanatical fitness freak and deprivational-nutrition specialist.
The only thing unhealthy about the holidays is when you stop moving and the Party Rules become a daily lifestyle, and large, sugary or fatty (or whatevery) servings become the norm or having dessert starts a string of guilty, digestion-disturbing thoughts and feelings.
Give yourself something refreshingly different by being mindful of your story and lightening up your thinking to relax into the pleasures and traditions your life offers. Balance your self-care actions by renegotiating your time and energy to sound rules and strategies that serve you. As you scare-off the food-phobic mindset that haunts you this Halloween, you will unleash the most fabulous Fall-idays and Merriest Christmas ever recorded (on your scale).