We see it EVERYWHERE and while the exact numbers vary from study to study, one thing remains true:
The average American gains a significant amount of weight between Thanksgiving and the New Year each year.
When I was losing weight, I’d normally pick one time during the week to go all out with food/drinks and use it as a cheat meal/day/night. Since I was weighing in on Thursdays, it would normally be Thursday immediately after weigh in, and I’d eat any and everything I wanted until I went to bed that night. If I had a happy hour/party going on sometime during the week, I’d usually change it up and move my cheat day to the day of the event. This strategy helped me to stay on track for the rest of the week while not feeling deprived because I still had my splurge time in the week to eat and drink anything I wanted.
The problem with this strategy is that now that the holiday season is upon us, we all get SWAMPED with parties, luncheons, happy hours, and events, involving everyone from coworkers, to friends, to family. If I end up going all out with eating/drinking for every single holiday event I have, I will definitely end up several pounds heavier and start the new year in much worse shape than I am right now, which is not something I’m willing (or able!) to do.
When I was leading my second Weight Watchers meeting a few weeks ago, the topic was Budgeting for the Holidays, and how to make the most of your PointsPlus during the holiday season. We talked about different strategies for holidays and when I asked the group what their strategies were in approaching the season and managing their points, many people had great ideas.
- Make it a point to get a workout in the day of a party so you earn extra Activity Points/burn extra calories to prepare for the event.
- Don’t go to any events hungry – eat a snack beforehand so you’re not starving when you get there.
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with seltzer or water so you’re staying hydrated/not getting as tipsy.
- Bring a clutch that you have to carry (as opposed to one you can sling over your shoulder) so you only have one hand free for food or a drink, not both.
- Focus on the company and people there, rather than the food/drinks (easier said than done).
- If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish so you know you have at least one “safe” option.
- If you’re hosting, use Weight Watchers recipes for some of the dishes but don’t tell anyone because they’ll never know.
One of my favorite tips that was given was this:
“I try to remember that not every holiday party is a splurge. I take a look at my week/month, and pick the events where I really want to go all out, and then try to stay on track for the other ones.”
While that idea makes PERFECT sense, it’s something I really struggle with executing because I tend to have a hard time not thinking about parties/gatherings as splurges. Sometimes, I’d rather avoid going to a holiday party all together rather than try to be moderate at it. Even typing that out sounds ridiculous – like I don’t trust myself after all this time to “behave” at events!
So this year, I am really going to try to adapt this strategy and realize that I can still have a fun time if I don’t eat and drink too much.
My first test was last night. I had a holiday party a good friend of mine was throwing for her colleagues/clients/friends. I have several events going on later this week, including holiday parties on Friday and Saturday, so that one was not the one I wanted to go all out for. I wanted to have fun of course, but wake up feeling good about myself today rather than feeling guilty for overdoing it when I didn’t want to.
Here’s how it played out:
I had to go to a Weight Watchers training thing right after work/before the party, so I brought a significant snack with me to eat while at the training (a 5 pt+ Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Larabar – YUM) so I didn’t show up famished to the party. I got there and ordered a glass of seltzer with lime and walked around saying hi to everyone that I knew. I had never thought to actually wait a minute to get a drink, but it really made a difference!
After making the rounds, I switched to a glass of white wine (3 pts+) and then went over to assess the food situation. There was a tray of fresh fruit, plus an antipasto plate that was loaded with eggplant, artichoke hearts, tomato mozzarella, and marinated mushrooms, so that’s where I put most of my attention. I had a few plates loaded up with the fruits and veggies, and then threw out my plate and fork and called it a night eating wise.
I ended up switching back to seltzer after the first glass of wine, and realized I actually felt pretty good and decided to stick with seltzer. I think that’s the first time ever, in a party setting, where I actually managed to have just one drink and feel good about it! I stayed at the party until just after 9, and then I headed home feeling good and not stuffed or even a little tispy.
Some of the tricks that I used to make last night’s party a success:
- As cheesy as this sounds, I actually visualized myself having a good time at the party WITHOUT overdoing it with food/alcohol. Visualization is one of the “tools for living” that Weight Watchers uses, but I had never really tried it before. I normally just picture myself elbow deep in the buffet, throwing back glasses of wine like it’s my job, but this time I really pictured myself being moderate, and I think it helped!
- I actually rode my bike to the party because it was the quickest way to zip around from work, to Weight Watchers, to the party. Being mindful of the fact that I had to bike home really helped me to not overdo it.
- I signed up for a 7am Body Pump class this morning, which as I’ve mentioned before is really hard to get into, so having that class in the back of my head helped too.