Ending the Cycle
The holidays are a special time of year. Gatherings with family members you might only get to see once orÂ twice a year fill the house with laughter, and family stories told from different siblings’ perspectives warm theÂ heart. Perhaps you have a special holiday event with a group of friends or even co-workers to which you lookÂ forward. It can be a lot for which to be thankful.
For many of us, though, the holidays have metamorphosed intoÂ opportunities to indulge on rich holiday foods, desserts, treats, andÂ drinks, with the company of family and friends becoming secondary.Â Were you looking forward to seeing Aunt Mary and her family, orÂ were you looking forward to seeing Aunt Mary’s famous chocolateÂ cream pie at the dessert table this past year? You may not haveÂ been looking forward to your office Christmas party and Ted fromÂ Accounts Receivable having a few too many and trying to get you toÂ dance the Cupid Shuffle with him, but you went because it was being catered by that Italian place you love. The glut of tasty-yet-fattening foods becomes the perfect excuse to indulge while promisingÂ ourselves that we will turn things around once January 1st arrives.
This line of thinking has resulted in your usual winter weight gain,Â year after year. Our New Year’s Resolutions have invariably failedÂ to produce the changes that we truly want to make for ourselves.Â However, we keep going through the same cycle every January.Â What if we put an end to the madness and the cycle of feast, thenÂ famine? The holidays are actually the perfect time of year to makeÂ positive changes that will last beyond the first couple months of theÂ new year.
A lot of the change that we want to effect can be as simple asÂ planning ahead and being realistic about what actions we will take.Â As the weather gets cooler, we tend to start hibernating and movingÂ less. Schedule your workouts as a priority on your calendar; keepÂ them like they are important business meetings, as they are likely toÂ have more impact on your bottom than that business meeting willÂ on the company’s bottom line!
Recognize potentially perilous food events on your horizon and beÂ proactive about minimizing their impact. Party on Saturday? PlanÂ ahead and cut back your food intake before and afterward. Also,Â increase your exercise and activity level before and after the event.Â But don’t overreact and skip meals; this only makes you hungrierÂ and you tend to give yourself permission to splurge at the nextÂ meal. Make sure you do your best to eat reasonably at the party.Â Overindulging and planning to work off the calories at the gym is aÂ recipe for disaster, as you are probably aware from past experience.
The holiday calories can pile up fast. Consider some of the foodsÂ that you might have indulged in during this past season and howÂ long an average person would have to walk to burn off the calories:
– A serving of spinach artichoke dip will take about 80 minutes
– Half a dozen chicken wings will take nearly 3 hours
– One cup of mashed potatoes will take a little over an hour
– One turkey leg will take about 2 hours
– A small serving of green bean casserole will take about an hour
Put the holiday buffet table behind you and have a plan of action.Â Supplement your healthier choices at the table with some physicalÂ activity. Try to get a morning workout in if you can. If that’s notÂ feasible, look for opportunities during the day to get moving. Take aÂ stroll with some family members. Get down on the carpet and playÂ with the kids. Play some backyard football with loved ones if you areÂ so inclined; if you can turn physical activity into a holiday tradition,Â you are setting yourself up for success down the road. If you areÂ someone who has to watch the football game, use the commercialÂ breaks to get in some jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, jogging inÂ place, etc. The opportunities will be there if you really look for them!
Breaking the failed New Year’s resolution cycle is within your graspÂ if you set yourself up for success. Always remember to keep in mindÂ that your health is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have a bad dayÂ in terms of eating well or miss a workout, don’t let it torpedo yourÂ progress. Let go of the guilt and make the next day a better one.