Avoid the panic, tackle the problem and start the year on the right foot!
Happy New Year, my friends! All the best for 2017!
I know my wishes are a few days late – at least from here because I tried to reach out to you on social media if you’ve been following me. And I say I tried because, well, it’s been difficult. Just as the New Year made its first appearance… so did the flu… And all my plans for the very best possible start to my new year went down the drain…
But it was just a couple of days’ delay, that’s all. I’m back here with renewed energy and brand new ideas for a fully healthy-lived 2017!
Are you with me?
I hope you’re determined and motivated because we’re about to go full speed ahead! Starting off with difficult subjects. Like the holiday weight gain…
Did anybody chicken out? No? Great! Let’s move on then!
So, how much did the scale move upwards? 2 kilos, 5 pounds, 10 or more? Or you don’t even want to know? Whatever the number, known or unknown, I bet you want the holiday weight to vanish overnight, right?
Well, who doesn’t? But, believe me, panic is not going to help. Nope! I’ve felt it before and I can reassure you it’s not going to make the scale move to the right direction and it definitely won’t make your clothes fit better either.
So, what do we do? First of all we take a really deep breath and relax. Think about all the nice things that you did during the holidays that are not food-related. Decorating, shopping, exchanging gifts, meeting friends, gathering with the rest of the family, playing with your kids, anything that made you feel good. Those memories are the real, keepsake gifts of the holidays. In a few years from now you won’t remember how many pounds you had gained at the dawn of 2017 but you’ll most certainly cherish the moments that made you smile.
Feeling better already?
Good! Now, let’s tackle the weight gain and overeating issues one step at a time.
Step 1: Assess the damage properly.
If you haven’t weighed yourself after the holidays, you might want to think about it for a while. We all know when we have crossed our limits with food. We can all feel it when the reading on the scale will most likely disappoint us. But there are people who need this kind of awakening to help them take action and then there are other people who get panicked by even the slightest gain and tend to make things worse by turning to emotional eating and binges. If you belong to the second category, you might want to wait a bit before you get on that scale.
There’s also another reason why you may need to postpone weighing yourself. Holiday tables are filled with “heavy” foods, rich in fat, sugar and salt which usually cause our bodies to retain water and feel and appear even heavier than we really are. A couple of days of balanced eating with just a little bit of movement and lots of water can really make a difference and make the number on the scale be much more closer to the real damage.
Step 2: Stay calm and set realistic goals.
Now that you know just how big the damage is, it’s time to give it the correct proportions in your mind. It’s definitely not the end of the world and you didn’t just miss your last chance to become a fit and healthy person! This number is just the result of how you changed your eating and exercise habits during the holidays. Either you couldn’t resist the temptations or you just allowed yourself to indulge, which, to be honest, are more or less one and the same. But that’s irrelevant. What matters is that it happened. It can’t be undone but luckily it can be fixed. If you want to fix it, you have to start eating right and exercise. If you don’t want to fix it, you simply wouldn’t waste your time reading this.
Time to set your first goal:
Lose the weight you gained during the holidays.
That weight and only that!
Now it’s not the time to make new year’s resolutions about weight goals that you haven’t been able to reach for the last five or ten years. It’s great to be feeling motivated and determined to make big changes this year but the slower you start, the better your chances of success. Focus on this first small goal, be it three, five or ten pounds. When (not if!) you reach your goal, prepare a generous, non-food-related reward for yourself and then set your next goal.
Step 3: Get back to healthy eating.
This is not as simple and easy as it sounds. Because what I really mean here is eliminate all the distractions from your healthy eating routine.
During the holidays you may have allowed yourself to indulge in a number of activities that can literally destroy any of your honest, healthy eating attempts.
– Is your house still full of sweets and holiday treats?
– Is your kitchen, fridge or pantry filled with unhealthy, fattening ingredients, perfect for holiday cooking and baking but absolutely inappropriate for a healthy and balanced nutrition?
– Did the holidays leave you with the habit of eating out many times a week or having food conveniently delivered to your doorstep?
– Are your social media timelines – like Facebook or Instagram – full of tempting cooking videos that appear easy and delicious and seem to make you happy and creative but actually all they do is expanding your waistline?
You need to put an end to all of the above if you are serious about losing the weight you gained during the holidays or even more. If you only have healthy food in your house, you’ll eat healthy. If you come face to face with edible temptations every day at home and numerous this-looks-delicious! exclamations while browsing the internet, sooner or later you will fail to resist.
If you need more ideas on what you can do to make healthy eating a habit, you can have a look at this post:
Don’t forget to be realistic. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect right away. Imagine you return to work just after summer vacation. What happens on the first day? Can you easily forget about the fun and concentrate on your work or do you daydream of sunny beaches and crystal sea waters at every chance? Habits, even recently-acquired ones, can become second nature. Especially the ones that make us feel good and we enjoy them. Don’t expect yourself to forget about them in a day. The first day, you’ll mess up right after breakfast. The second day, you’ll make it to lunch. The third, you’ll only feel weak right before bedtime. In the end, you’ll get it right. Just be patient with yourself.
Step 4: Get moving.
Whether you already exercised before the holidays or not, the beginning of a new year is always a great opportunity to add exercise to your life. You don’t need to become the local gym hero in a day! Start slowly. A longer walk today, a 20-minute workout tomorrow, anything that you enjoy doing will help. You just need to put yourself in the fitness frame of mind for a start. Let your body feel the difference and it will take it from there. You won’t need to do anything else.
Step 5: Add “newphoria” to your healthy living.
Well, it’s probably not an official word of the English language – not yet at least! But it can really help you with your fitness and health goals. I came across it in an electronics store one day, used on the advertising campaign of a computer software company. And it looked really eye-catching and clever. Because we all experience this enthusiasm over anything new, not necessarily material. We never really outgrow the child inside us. And if you’ve seen the excitement in a kid’s eyes when they hold a new toy in their hands, you know what I’m talking about.
This feeling of “newphoria” could actually be the answer to the problems that many of us could be facing right after the holidays. Whether you allowed yourself a full indulgement or you just enjoyed a few more unhealthy breaks to your nutrition than you should have, the scale is here to show you the extent of the damage, bluntly honest as always. But sometimes, especially if you’ve been on this health journey for too long, it becomes too difficult to just switch to your old habits in a day and undo the damage. That’s when a generous dose of “newphoria” in your getting-back-on-track strategy can really do the trick.
Just a few ideas:
– New recipes, new meal ideas or a completely new meal plan.
– A new food you’ve never tried before.
– A new fitness class, a new exercise buddy or even a new gym membership.
– Go fitness shopping! A new pair of workout shoes, new yoga pants, or even a fitness gadget could help light the spark again.
– Renew your motivation. Remind yourself of why you started leading a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Talk with friends about their own experiences, read other people’s stories, look at older pictures, imagine the future ones in your head. Make new goals and dream new dreams!
When everything is back to normal and the initial feeling of panic has subsided, take a look in the rearview mirror. What did you do during this past month that brought you where you are today? Could you change something? Could you have had a better sense of control over your eating habits during the holidays? Maybe the next time you’ll have learned something. Maybe this time next year you’ll have no reason to read articles like this one. Maybe the term “holiday weight gain” will be almost unknown to you.
Let’s make a wonderful new year, friends!