Monday, November 23, 2009

It Doesn't Have To Be All or Nothing to Lose Weight

Recently, I was chatting with one of my friends and we were discussing how difficult it is to stay “healthy” and “be good” during the holidays. She thought she might just give up since she felt she wasn’t eating all that great anyway, and just start after the New Year. I think we all have had this attitude at some point about something, trying to do everything at once to achieve a goal. The thing that can be great about weight loss is that it’s a multi-faceted project, so you can attack it from several angles. Granted, it’s most effective when you are able use all the tools to achieve the goal the quickest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to address one part when your life gets too busy to handle it all.

Let’s take a quick look at some barriers to weight loss that the holiday season might emphasize and little things to do to help stay on track. First, there is the time issues – lots of events, gatherings, etc that are scheduled during your normal exercise times. Try to squeeze in a workout when you can, even if it’s just 30 minutes instead of your usual hour, or just a couple of days a week. If you can get your heart rate up for that time, you have most likely increased your metabolism slightly and it’s more than if you sat and watched television.

Next, there is the food. I don’t know exactly what it is about family, friends and the holidays, but it brings out some scrumptious food that you just don’t see all year. Unfortunately, many of these dishes are loaded in fat, sugars and assorted other items that are not on the regular food list of what you eat. On the flip side, it’s also a great time of year to get out and hit the dance floor and burn some of those calories as you are taking them in. Another trick is to eat something healthy before you leave the house. When you get to the event or party, you won’t be as hungry and not as tempted to eat everything available. I allow myself one serving of my most favorite food as a treat to myself – that way I am having something I enjoy but managing the huge spread of treats at the same time. When you do decide to eat, see if you can sit down and enjoy every last bite. When you are standing and grazing, you are more likely to eat more than if you fill your plate and sit down.

Finally, let’s look at the challenge of traveling or having guests in your home. This is actually a great opportunity to ask a family member or friend to join you on a walk after the big meal, or to get up and fix a healthy breakfast together. Involving other people is motivating on both sides: you have incorporated some exercise and/or healthy eating with your family or friend, and they might be looking at you and your habits as motivation to make a change in their lives. It’s amazing how the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Back to my friend….she realized she wasn’t eating awful, she just needed to watch out for the office pitfalls of cake and candy, and she’s still on track. See, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!!