Surviving the “Eating Season”– the Holidays (part 1)

We are smack-dab-in-the-middle of the “eating season”.   The season that kicks off on Halloween and ends with the New Year.  The Holiday Season.  The challenging season. 

I refer to this as the “eating season” because of all of the food that abounds during these two months… the parties, the celebrations, the gatherings and the holiday….. ALL centered around food!  And THAT is a challenge for me…. for anyone who struggles to lose weight and/or maintain their weight.

So how do we navigate the holidays?  How do we get through them without feeling like a failure? 

More importantly, how do we survive this “eating season” and feel successful?

First, we must define what success means to us through the holiday season.  What will make you feel successful when January 1, 2020 arrives?  For me success has looked different through the years.

Back in 2006, success through the holidays for me was to not gain more than 10 pounds.  In 2007, success meant I would lose weight, any amount would count, even .2 lbs.  In 2008, my first holiday season at goal and as a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, success meant maintaining. 

Some years I didn’t think about it, didn’t think about setting a goal.  Some years I set goals based on what success looked like to me.  By defining what success meant on January 1st of the coming New Year, I took away the power that guilt held over me and gave myself the power to control my choices.  I was in control.  And defining what success meant to me, it gave me a focus, something to work toward and gave me flexibility.  My choices followed whatever my definition of success was. 

This year, success through the holidays looks like a loss at the scale.  It doesn’t matter to me the amount, just that it is an overall loss on January 1st

But how am I going to do that when there are so many temptations?  When there are so many challenges? 

That is where the second step comes in.  Once you decide on what success looks like to you, you can then set your goal based on that.  The holiday goal is what success looks like to you.  My holiday goal this year is to lose, at least a little.  To step on the scale that first week in January 2020 and see a loss from where I am today.  That is my goal.

Then once you set your holiday goal, ask what steps you need to take to get there.  What will help you to get to that goal?  What will help you to achieve success? 

For me, having a loss over the holidays does not mean that I HAVE to deprive myself.  It does not mean that I won’t get to enjoy the holidays…all the events….all the gatherings….all the celebrations.  And it does not mean that I won’t be able to enjoy my favorite foods and treats.  Because, if I deprive myself….if I don’t enjoy the holidays…..if I stress about the celebrations and parties and holiday gatherings because I tell myself I CAN’T have this or that…..if I deny myself my favorites….. I am doomed!  I am setting myself up for failure.  I am setting myself up for a big slip down that slippery slope.

So, how do I enjoy the holidays without over-indulging?  How do I enjoy the holidays and all that they bring and STILL reach success as I have defined it for myself? 

I do it by setting my holiday goal, and by figuring out what will help me to achieve that success! 

I know that eating mindfully is important for me, especially during challenging times.  And mindful eating means that I am tracking.  Tracking gives me awareness of how much I am eating, and what I am eating.  And mindful eating and tracking also means I am paying attention to portions.  So, tracking and portion control will help me to reach success.  But I need more to help me as well.  Moving will help.  Exercise will help.  And movement and exercise are two different things.  Exercise for me is intentional.  It gets my heart rate up.  It works my muscles to exhaustion.  So, exercise in the form of my bike, strength-training, and walking (fast) will help me to get closer to that holiday goal.  But I need to do more than a workout.  I need to move during the day.  I need to not sit so much.  Moving in the form of parking farther away, cleaning house, getting out in my garden, going for a leisurely walk after dinner, dancing around the house to my favorite holiday music, and making sure I get up out of my chair every hour will help me move closer to my holiday goal and help me to reach success.  And going to workshops will help me.  I need to step on the scale.  I need the accountability and I need the inspiration and support of others traveling this road we are on. 

Once we are aware of what we need to do, of the tools that will help us to achieve our success, then we can set small, weekly goals to help us get to that bigger holiday goal…. One-step-at-a-time!  Each week, ask yourself, what can I do this week that will move me a little closer to my holiday goal?  What one thing can I do this week that will help me reach my success?  And set that smaller weekly goal.  Just one thing. 

For me, this week, tracking will be key.  Tracking every day.  Tracking every food I eat.  Tracking the portions.  Tracking my exercise.   Tracking will give me the awareness I need about my food and exercise habits.  And tracking will give me the information I need to make adjustments next week… adjustments that will help me reach success!

How do we navigate and survive this “eating season”?  By defining success as it pertains to each of us.  Then setting our holiday goal based on what success means to us.  Once the goal is set, coming up with the actions that will help us to reach that goal will give us a focus.  And then we ask what we CAN do this week that will move us closer to our holiday goal.  Once we answer that question, we set a smaller weekly goal to get us moving in the direction of success.  This is how we survive the holidays.  This is how we reach success; whatever success means to each of us.

And then one final question—after asking what you can do, and setting the smaller goal ask yourself–WILL you do it?  Because we all CAN do it, but the real question is Will we do it!  And that is where the commitment and power lie!

What does success this “eating season” of holidays look like to you?  What will make you feel successful when January 1, 2020 arrives?

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