With Thanksgiving being so late this year - the feeling of whiplash is the too real.
Normally we have at least a week between Thanksgiving dinner and the build-up to Christmas, but this year we kept rolling right into the next month.
It’s easy leading up to Thanksgiving to remind ourselves that it’s only one meal. One meal did not cause your weight issues. It’s more important to spend time with your friends and family and to stop stressing about what is on your plate and enjoy the day.
But as our holidays blow up with multiple meals with separated families, friendsgivings the following weekend - one meal quickly multiplies into daily events for a long weekend.
Now looking at the calendar for the last month of 2019, there aren’t many days that aren’t being filled with something fun and delicious.
Poking through my calendar, as of December 2nd, I have 12 days this month with no “fun” plans where I expect my diet will not be a priority. That’s less than 40% of the days this month - and not counting last-minute plans, leftovers, and events that have yet to be scheduled. As someone who likes talking about the 80/20 rule (80% on track, 20% fun) 40% is a huge drop!
Suddenly all of the thoughts of it “only being one meal” seems like a bunch of crap. You may feel like you have already set yourself up for failure, or start considering how you will balance these events to not completely bomb your goals this month.
While I understand the message of not needing to “earn” your food that you see in the anti-dieting circles online, there is a certain balance you do need to find, especially if weight loss or maintenance is a goal of yours.
Here are three things to focus on to help you feel in control, while still enjoying this indulgent month.
Realize what you do control with food.
While yes, you may be in situations with tempting treats and generous portions - you are always in control of how you handle this situation. If you choose to have a cookie and a glass of wine at a holiday party - that is your choice. The food, the drink - we make them sirens in our heads, imagining them taking our control from us. You choose what you eat. You choose the portion. Just because it is available does not mean you need to binge.
Some ways to feel control over your food:
Get one plate of food, enjoy every bite - and don’t get seconds.
Choose to eat your protein and veggies first, that way you don’t fill up on things that will make you feel sick. (While eating 10 Christmas cookies seems awesome, you know that future you will be cursing you with a stomach ache!)
Eat before you go somewhere. If you aren’t ravenous when you go into a situation, you will be in much more control.
Realize what you do control with your time.
While you may have too many days coming up with special events with food and drinks - those only take up portions of the day. The other hours are up to you to decide how you use them.
Some ways you can help control your time:
Schedule a reasonable amount of time for movement during the week. If committing to 5 days a week is too much during this busy season, plan 2 days a week of purposeful movement.
Plan a weekly calendar for your food. This helps you visualize when the “fun meals” are, and where the opportunities are for balance. Want to use the template I use for my weekly plan? Check it out here.
Realize who is around you.
Many of us are dealing with the same mental struggle about our health and weight at this time of the year - hence why we focus so hard on it for New Year's resolutions! Find support by enlisting someone to hold you accountable, or to be active together.
Some ways you could help support a friend or family member (and yourself!):
Challenge each other to not have alcohol Monday-Thursday, or hold off until a certain party.
Meet up once a week to go for a walk together, or go to the gym.
Have a friend who is a great cook? Meal prep together one day and split the finished product.
This time of the year is hard. Not only are we dealing with busy schedules and events every other night, but there is financial stress, emotional stress with friends and family, winter weather, colds and cases of flu - it’s easy to fall back into eating for comfort. Know that these choices are not easy - it’s hard to stick to moderation, especially in the season that focuses on lavishness! Don’t feel ashamed of the struggle this season. Use your resources, and do what you can. You deserve to feel proud of yourself as you enter 2020, and you have the ability to do just that.