It's that time of year again. Staying on track during the holidays is challenging, but it can be done. I’m entering my fifth holiday season as a SparkPeople member, and I’m looking forward to conquering it! There will be many articles coming out in the next few weeks about avoiding holiday weight gain.
Instead of concentrating on avoiding holiday weight gain, my goal is to maintain consistency with my diet and exercise program throughout the holiday season. I do plan to splurge on special occasions. The problem with maintaining consistency is that there are so many special occasions between now and New Year's Day!
Why is weight gain during the holidays a yearly topic? Weight gain during the holidays is an important contributor to the weight gain "creep"--that is, the extra pounds you gradually and slowly add without noticing. Just about everyone thinks that you have a license to indulge during this time of the year!
When I started my lifestyle change in 2007, I started out sprinting. I was tired of being morbidly obese and I breezed through the 2007 holiday season with ease. There were no false starts.
I was on a mission and my mission was to reach my goal weight. That’s not to say I didn't hit a few bumps: I binged on Halloween candy that year, declaring it to be a "cheat day," and I pretty much did the same on Thanksgiving. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.
I started out at 292 pounds on July 23, 2007, and by Thanksgiving 2007 I was in the 230s. But, I was motivated and nothing was going to stand in the way of my goal.
Unfortunately, the new penny feeling of a "diet" wears off. I knew that I was trying to change my life, but I had started to tire of trying to be perfect. Fortunately, I had already become very attached to SparkPeople and its principles and was attempting to focus on the long haul, not the quick fix.
My weight loss was pretty steady during that phase. By the 2008 holiday season, I was a sleek 158 pounds, but I was already a little battered and bruised. I had faced and beaten burnout a few times already. I had conquered many hard questions about my motivations and I had felt the pain of defeat. Still, I got back up and dusted off my knees after every fall. Despite those battle wounds, I held steady through the holidays and got down to 150 pounds in early January.
The next holiday seasons didn’t go as well as the first two. I fought hard battles during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. I gained for the first time during the 2009 season and had to go back to the basics after New Year's to get back to my maintenance weight. I pretty much did the same during the 2010 holiday season. So, is this a pattern? Am I destined to be a yearly victim of the holiday weight-gain tradition?
My holiday season starts with Halloween and ends at the New Year. That is when I have traditionally face the greatest struggle, and there are pretty good reasons for that struggle. Treats on every corner, parties, days off, schedule changes, vacations, mass media telling you that you have to try this new holiday drink, etc. Let’s not forget the cold weather and the fact that you get to hide some of your extra pounds behind sweaters and other winter fashions.
As you can see I’m not an expert at getting through the holidays, but I have rode them out and made it to the other side. I’m at a bit of a disadvantage this year because I’m going into the holiday season a little on my higher side, but I’m planning on success this year! Here’s my plan:
Do you aim to lose or maintain during the holiday season? Traditionally, do you give up or stay strong during the winter holidays?
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