Wednesday, December 21, 2011
With the holiday season in full swing, last week was a crazy one for me. For a lot of us here, social events and the food and drinks that go along with them pose major challenges. We have parties and events all year long, but rarely are so many gatherings condensed into one month as they are in December. On one of my SparkTeams, a question was posted in our forum seeking tips on how to handle all of these gatherings. As I typed my response, the list of my methods grew a lot longer than I anticipated, so I thought I would share my tips here as well.
I'm certainly no expert, but I had five events last week, consumed a half pound of peppermint bark and still managed to lose 2 pounds, so there must be something to this strategy. Here are my party suggestions:
1) Eat less, earlier in the day. Don't starve yourself or it will backfire, but cut back a bit depending on how much you plan to consume that evening.
2) Do not skip any meals; just make your meals smaller earlier in the day (assuming it's an evening event).
3) Exercise more, preferably shortly before the event/party. I try to work out, shower and then head to the party/event. I'm more mindful of my goals during the party if I can still feel that I worked out earlier. Plus, it may give you a little "glow" while you are socializing.
4) Eat something immediately before the event that will fill you up. I either eat this right before I walk out the door or on the way to the party. A Slim Fast Meal Bar, chicken breast or other low-calorie nutrient-dense snack works great.
5) Bring something healthy to share. If you are bringing something to share, be sure to bring something really nutritious and low in calories. There will be plenty of high-calorie, nutrient-free options (you don't need to add more).
6) Arrive late. I can never seem to leave a party early, so this last week I've been trying to arrive late instead. This isn't always an option. But, when it is, it helps on two fronts a) as a whole you have less exposure to all of the food/drink temptations and b) the least healthful foods will probably be picked over. Don't worry; the veggie tray is almost always the last to go.
7) Skip the food if it's a short event. If your get together is only an hour or two, you may be able to skip eating there altogether. I had one event last week that was a graduation ceremony. There was cake and punch, but the event was short enough that I was able to go without. Sometimes, once you start, it is hard to stop. I had my snack before I left for the ceremony and ate something else when I got back home.
8) Track your food. Just because there's a party doesn't mean you need to throw everything out the window. Since I have a phone with the SparkPeople app on it, I usually track as I go. If you can't do that (sometimes it isn't convenient even with a smartphone), just jot down what you eat on a piece of paper. The problem with the paper method is that you may not realize you've eaten a half pound of peppermint bark until it is already too late. Still, the act of writing it down will slow your pace and keep your eyes on the prize.
9) Veggies. Measure them. Bring them. Eat them. This is super important because there's always the chance that there will be absolutely nothing to snack on that fits into your plan. Bring some veggies (pre-measured baggies or containers if you are not at your own house). Women will probably find this easier to do than men because they have purses. I use one of those insulated reusable bags. I find a spot for it when I get to the event and fill my plate as often as necessary. Most people won't notice, and those that do really won't care. It's important to have some pre-cut veggies available at your own house as well. Have enough for your guests, but also have a reserve for yourself if you end up getting hungry later on.
10) Limit your alcohol consumption. Obviously, there are many reasons to do this. I originally thought that the main reason would be calories, but in hindsight it is even more important so that you don't lose sight of your goals and keep your food consumption in check. It's a lot easier to go overboard when you are under the influence. And, the alcohol hits you harder when you are eating less. Bring your own diet soda if that will help. Otherwise, don't be afraid to ask the host for some water.
11) Find your "golden" snack. It's the holidays, time to be merry. But, rather than mindlessly eating a bunch of different foods that you like, pick something that you LOVE and enjoy that. My selection was peppermint bark last Tuesday and a couple pieces of pie on Sunday night. Sure, I could have had cheesy potatoes, casseroles, meats and cheeses, fudge and other candies. I like them. But, if I ate them all, I could only have a very little bit of each. Instead, I skipped them all, ate my own healthful food and saved my calories for the stuff that I really, really love. When the night is over, you'll feel more satisfied (at least I did).
And, don't forget to slice it! My pie and peppermint bark were both divided into multiple smaller servings. By slicing, breaking or dividing your "golden" snack into smaller servings, you can extend your special treat into multiple servings that will help you feel like you are getting more than you actually are. You may get lucky and find that you don't even want to go back for that additional portion.
12) Forgive yourself. If you do overindulge, just remember it is one day, one week, whatever. One night of indulging isn't going to make or break your weight loss journey. Forgive yourself and get over it quickly. Life is short, enjoy it.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Last night, I attended my brother-in-law's college graduation ceremony. Graduation ceremonies can be long (and boring at some points). But, the silver lining is that they are always filled with a lot of positivity. Words of encouragement and congratulatory speeches flow from the podium and by the end of the night the energy in the auditorium is pulsating with positive thoughts, dreams and accomplishments. I ended up enjoying the event much more than I thought I would. It also got me thinking later on in the night about the words that we say to each other and ourselves. Think about the comments you make to your friends, family and even strangers throughout the day.
"You'll be fine."
"It is what it is."
"You're doing great."
"It's not the end of the world."
"It will be fun."
"Tomorrow is a new day."
"You can do it."
"Everything will work out."
"You're doing the best that you can."
"It's going to be fine."
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
"I love you."
We are so gentle, kind and forgiving with others. But, do we treat ourselves with the same respect and generosity? I know that I have used each of the above phrases with others at least once this week. However, I've probably only said one or two of them to myself (and that's on a good week). This is definitely something I need to work on. Hopefully, if you find yourself in the same situation, you can take some time to be your own best friend.
Friday, December 16, 2011
My new absolute favorite holiday treat is Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark. This is definitely not health food (although it has some calcium and almost no sodium). However, as I understand it, one of the premises at SparkPeople is not to fully omit or demonize any specific food or food group, but rather to focus on moderation. If you practice mindful eating and moderation, you can pretty much fit any type of food into your diet.
Unfortunately, when I consumed a half pound of peppermint bark at a holiday party on Tuesday night, I was not practicing mindful eating or moderation. I was logging my food throughout the night, but I didn't actually add up the ounces I ate until after all of our guests had left. Do I feel bad about it? Nope. I really don't. Yes, I could have avoided eating so much of it. But, the reality is that I doubt I'm going to gain any weight this week. And, even if I do, it will probably be from an accumulation of five events all happening in one week rather than my one night in peppermint bark bliss.
Yes, after reviewing my calorie intake and nutrients for the day, I was shocked at how much peppermint bark I actually ate. And, I might have felt a little bit of guilt or worry right in that one moment. But, after thinking about it, this is where I am at right now. I would rather enjoy a treat that I really, really like with a bunch of friends instead of mindlessly eating pint after pint of ice cream alone. Those days are long gone.
So there you have it. I had my peppermint bark, and ate it, too.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I don't like buying clothes. For years, I only shopped for shirts and jeans when I needed to replace others that I had outgrown (often in a state of emergency). Now I need to replace the clothes that I've... What's the opposite of outgrown? Outshrunk?
Luckily, I had a bunch of clothes in reserve for when I would fit into them again. However, with my waist now 4 sizes smaller, I've reached the point where my reserve has been depleted. For a lot of people this would be a point of joyous celebration. But, for me, the actual act of buying new clothes brings me little joy other than knowing what size I can comfortably fit into now. Part of the problem might be that since my sizes have been dropping pretty quickly, I can't really reconcile the idea of buying anything nice because I know that in another month or two the new clothes will be too big. At the same time, I don't want to buy anything too low-end, because then I think, "gee, I lost all this weight and this is my reward." So, there you have it, stuck between a rock and a checkout line.
My temporary solution was that I bought a really nice pair of jeans that were on clearance. I hesitated to buy them because they were a little snug when I tried them on. But, I am still losing weight so it seemed to make sense. I ended up hang drying them (per the instructions and a friend's advice concerning the snugness). Then, when I went to put them on at home, they were already too big! Hopefully, it was the lack of heat drying, so I've rewashed and am going to dry them normally tonight. If not, I'm back to square one.
What should I do? What do you do?
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Today I was going to write about my shopping experience yesterday and my clothing dilemma, but now I think I will save that for next week. I don't make that many blog posts, but I'm working on it because a) it helps me score some bonus points in the End of Year Challenge that I'm participating in, b) I know that it's actually helpful for other SparkPeeps and c) it helps me as well. Before I make a blog post I usually read through some other blogs in an attempt to get my brain in the mood. I just finished reading a bunch of blogs and feel so inspired by all of the success stories I read today. It's really amazing at how many people are out there on the same journey, with similar struggles and challenges. I guess this is one more reason why I think SparkPeople really has an edge over some of the other weight loss and fitness web sites out there. There are so many people using SparkPeople and sharing their stories, challenges and successes. I'm very thankful that I logged on back in May and stuck with it all this time. Yes, it would have been nice to have started earlier (or to have avoided getting fat in the first place), but it is what it is and I'm just glad that I didn't wait any longer than I did. Yesterday was my 7 Month SparkVersary, which I forgot about until I read a blog today from someone who started on the same day that I did. I've said this before, but it needs to be repeated: you can accomplish SO MUCH in 7 months! So, if you are reading this and feel like you have hit a plateau or feel like you are only taking baby steps, just stick with it and all of those baby steps will eventually add up to amazing results.
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