I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news.
The bad news is it’s commonly believed that the average person can put on seven to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The good news is that several studies now show that the actual number is more like one pound. (Incidentally those same reports found people who are already overweight tend to gain five pounds or more during the same period.)
The bad news is, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medication, that although the average is only a pound or so, most folks will never, ever lose that pound. Moreover, since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, much of our long-term weight gain as grown-ups can be attributed directly to the excesses of the holiday season.
The good news is one can avoid falling victim to these statistics.
Ever the helper, I provide five simple tips to help you prevent from looking like Jolly Saint Nick come January first.
1) Be realistic and set “holiday appropriate” goals.
Determine what would be your definition of success come the new year, but be honest with yourself. If, for exam-ple, you’re trying to lose a pound or so a week during the remainder of the year, ask yourself if that’s doable while surrounded by goodies. May-be you might want to lower that goal – or even consider maintaining your weight as a success during this time of year. You can always “over-achieve” but setting an impracticable goal and falling short makes you more inclined to give up completely.
2) Reserve time for your-self.
Whether you consider the holidays to be joyous or laborious, they’re definitely busy. Since we tend to engage in comfort habits when we’re more stressed, the urge to eat more increases during hectic times. Force yourself to take five or ten minutes here or there and slow yourself down whenever you can; it will cut down the impulse to eat.
3) If you slip up, get up.
Remember the small child who is learning to walk. She slips and stumbles, but she gets back up again. It’s normal to “fall down” while learning. If you make a mistake, don’t consider it “the end.” Brush yourself off, learn from the error, and get right back on track immediately. Don’t make the common mistake of saying, “I’ll start again after the holidays.”
4) Get support.
Can we be honest? If you could do this on your own, you already would have. There’s no shame in asking for help and developing an encouraging network. Tell reassuring people in your circle your goal and ask them for support. However, it’s essential that you also explain what you’d like them to do to encourage you, or you’ll end up with a bunch of “food cops” watching over every-thing you eat. You won’t like that and they won’t either.
5) Under-stand that if guilt and shame were motivational, we’d all be skinny.
Find ways to reward yourself for positive steps, rather than pummel yourself for setbacks. Be kind to yourself and watch your inner dialog. If you wouldn’t say it to a child, don’t say it to yourself.
Finally, realize that the holidays are not one giant monolith of non-stop consumption.
For most people, there are fewer than ten days be-tween November and January that are problematic, giving you an opportunity to in charge of your actions upwards of 80 percent of the time. If eight out of ten of your choices are positive, you’re going to do just fine.