Welcome to the silly season. That period of time between October 31 and January 1 when the entire world seems to have lost track of reality and to have been caught up in a non-stop frenzy. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements. It seems like everything is either on sale, for sale, on someone's wish list, or sold out. Your social calendar from now until the end of the year is practically full already, and there is FOOD EVERYWHERE. Halloween candy, Pumpkn Pie (pumpkin everything really), latkes, Christmas cookies, gingerbread, stuffing...well you get the idea. What is a rational person to do?
Begin by taking a step back. Then take a deep breath and come up with a strategy. My strategy is three-pronged. It covers food/nutrition, budget, and schedule. Today's post is mainly about food, because that is where my head is right now. So let's talk about the Silly Season and food. I grew up thinking it was totally the way of the world that you gained ten pounds from October to November and then spent the next ten months trying to take them off. The problem is that the older I get, the harder it is to make that system work. Oh, I can put them on, no problem. Taking them off is another story.
The week after we moved, I did something drastic. I started the Whole30. If you are not familiar with it, the Whole30 is kind of a more extreme version of paleo in which you omit sugar, dairy, legumes, wheat and grains for 30 days. If you cheat, your 30 days begin again. I did not experience a lot of the magic that many people do on the plan, (I suspect because I eat mostly whole foods anyway. My problem is more in the portion control area.), but I did lose six pounds, find that I had more energy, and learn that my system does not care so much for wheat and legumes. The big take away for me was that I can actually stick to a plan, and that I am NOT actually a slave to my cravings. (Hooray for me!) That knowlege allowed me to come up with the following plan for navigating the next 2 months.
My ten step plan for staying on track during the silly season.
1. State your goal. What do you want out of this time of year? Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Not gain any weight? Limit your weight gain to just two pounds? Five pounds? Cut out all sugar? Don't eat anything white? Have a pumpkin or gingerbread latte every day? Whatever your goal is, write it down. Commit to it, and then have a plan for achieving it
.2. Choose your plan. There are so many plans out there. It doesn't really matter which one you choose. As long as you select a plan and follow it to the letter, chances are you will achieve your goal. I find the Whole30 a little too restrictive for my long term planning, so I am going with a combination of The Skinny Jeans Diet combined with good old fashioned calorie counting. Many people have also had great success with Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
3. Write it down. You cannot do this without keeping track and being accountable. Imagine this. You are at the mall. It is really crowded. Everything is taking longer than you expected. You decide to grab a coffee at the nearest coffee bar. While in line, you decide the caramel latte sounds really heavenly. Why not? You are on your feet all day today. You also grab an oatmeal cookie. You down them on the way to the next store on your list. You make about eleven more stops before you finally get home and make dinner. Your coffee break is long forgotten, and so are the 500 calories that somehow found their way into your day. A few days like that coud spell disaster. This year I am using the Skinnytaste meal planner by Gina Homolka. I am old fashioned, and I like pen and paper. However, I know myself, so I am also using Myfitnesspal.com to track digitally. I always have my phone.
4.Plan your meals. I spend about an hour doing this once a week, and it takes the guess work out of eating for the entire week. I make my shopping list from the menu, and voila. Everything I need for healthy meals for the family is in my kitchen and pantry.
5. Carry Snacks. Hunger will always strike. Be prepared with healthy snacks. Do not get derailed by hunger pains.
6. Allow yourself one indulgence per holiday. It is the holiday season. If go into it with an all or nothing attitude, you will not survive. Name your poison. Look forward to it. Savor it. Enjoy it. Stop at one serving. (Do not choose something you will not be able to limit to one serving). P.S. If you plan for it, you do not have to feel a single moment of guilt about it. My major indulgence on Halloween was a slice of the amazing birthday cheesecake that my mom makes for my stepdad every year.
7. Drink Water every day. People forget when the weather turns cold, but winter air can be very harsh on your body. Once you feel thirsty, you are already beginning to be dehydrated. I aim for one water with every meal, and two or three in between.
8. Take a multivitamin. Cold Season. That is all.
9. Make your health a priority. Put yourself first. Your entire family will benefit in the long run.
10. Bribes. I reward myself for sticking to it. I have a savings account. I deposit $5.00 for every pound lost. No. I do not get to make withdrawals when I gain weight. Upon reaching goal, I will buy myself one very expensive, fabulous reward for getting there. Maybe a soft buttery leather jacket, maybe a pair of Laboutins? Or an IT bag. I will be sure to show it off when I make it.
.Be careful out there.
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