And so it begins – a relentless barrage from the diet and fitness industry about how you can avoid holiday weight gain.
Seemingly helpful tips to help you reduce calories, avoid unhealthy food and survive the holidays without piling on the pounds. You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about, painfully predictable advice like eat and chew your food slowly, drink lots of water with your meal, fill up on veges, and say no to dessert. Sounds like fun, right?
Oh, and let’s not forget the guilt-inducing exercise tips that suck all the fun out of what is supposed to be a good time with friends and family.
Christmas is a holiday that begs for a little excess, it’s a break from our usual habits and daily routines. Christmas is a time where food is part of the culture and tradition.
What’s wrong with that? Is it really a bad thing? I don’t think so. I mean, what’s the point in encouraging us to eat less on this one day?
Because you know what? Weight gain doesn’t happen after one or two excessive meals. Actually, that’s exactly the kind of mindset that drives us to buy into fad diets, ridiculous eating plans, and half-price gym memberships. Weight gain is the result of many contributing factors, but one or two days at Christmas isn’t part of that equation.
I’m guessing that most of us who have pursued weight loss have, at some point, tried to commit to an exercise routine that was well beyond our level of fitness. Maybe you lasted a week, maybe you lasted a day. Either way, what was the result? At the end of that day, even at the end of that week had you dropped half a dozen dress sizes? Were you the embodiment of a Greek God? Probably not, right?
Because you don’t lose weight from one day of exercise, and you don’t gain weight from one excessive meal. Both weight loss and weight gain is a culmination of habits over time.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t permission to ditch the healthy lifestyle entirely and go all in.
I’m not suggesting you completely abandon any good habits you’ve developed over time. I’m not encouraging you to eat excessively, simply because it’s right there in front of you. And, I still think you should maintain some form of exercise over this time, no matter how small it is.
But, exercise and eat for enjoyment and if you happen to eat a little too much, then that’s cool too. Don’t beat yourself up about it. A little excess is a part of what this holiday is all about. Actually, from time to time, that’s what life should be about. Denying yourself of all the things you enjoy and living in fear of what you eat is not a healthy and sustainable relationship with food. Allowing others to make you feel guilty about the choices you’ve made is not a healthy way to approach life.
This is your life. It’s yours to live and yours to enjoy. Christmas doesn’t come every day, so when it does roll around I don’t think you should spend your time stressing about food.
When the celebrations are over, work your way back into your regular routine, shift back to the healthier lifestyle you’ve been building, continue to seek improvement and spend the next 300-odd days doing the best you can.
But, for these few days eat up, raise your glass, enjoy yourself, and be thankful for what you’ve got. That’s what I’ll be doing.