I can’t believe that it’s that time again, but it’s that time again. 2 weeks until Thanksgiving. And then, before you can even recover from your tryptophan coma, it’s Christmas and New Years, back to back! It’s time for offices to burst at the veritable seams with holiday cookies, cakes, pies , fruitcake (which I don’t think is even being made anymore, just passed from person to person, holiday season after holiday season) and all of the other seasonal stuff that we stuff ourselves with. Work parties, church parties, office parties and just parties, all resplendent with beer, booze, wine, eggnog and some mystery punch that numerous people have added to as the night has gone on. And we indulge because, hey, it’s the holidays, when else can we have bar mix, pickled herring and a big slice of pumpkin pie, washed down with Martini & Rossi on the rocks, all within a few short hours?
I kinda went overboard with the picked herring, didn’t I. But I come from the Midwest, where it’s considered good luck. Disgusting, but good luck,….
….but I digress.
So, what’s the plan, health-wise?
Is it “Screw it, I’ll think about that on Jan. 2nd”
Is it “ Moderation”?
I’ll give you the official advice, the stuff you’ll see in every other fitness, wellness, life-coaching blog & article out there. Then I’ll give you my plan.
First, the official stuff, in no particular order; (with my comments when needed)
- Don’t eat everything at feasts and parties. Be choosy and spend calories judiciously on the foods you love.
- It takes a few minutes for your full stomach signal to get to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You might realize you are full or want only a small portion of seconds.
- Don’t stand next to the food table. That makes it harder to mindlessly reach for food as you talk.
- If you know you are prone to recreational eating, pop a mint or a stick of gum so you won’t keep reaching for the chips. (I include this one for laughs. Does popping a mint or stick of gum really work when you’re being stared down by a big bag of Doritos? Not in my world pal.)
- Before setting out for a party, eat something so you don’t arrive famished.
- A glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories; wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water or juice-flavored seltzer in between drinks.( Again, this is comedy. 1st, nobody drinks eggnog all night. Next, if I’m drinking a glass of good wine, switching to “fruit-flavored selzer” is not on my agenda. But nice try)
- Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. ( I am a poster child for this one. I have started evenings with the best of intentions and woken up doing a “walk of shame” to throw out the fast food wrappers.)
- If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert. ( A walk. My family. Who even wrote this?)
- At a buffet, check out the food table before putting anything on your plate. By checking out all of your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.
- Don’t shop hungry. (Again. This one is valid.)
- To show family and friends that you really care about them, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat. (This is the family member whose house I go to once, then never again)
So, what’s my plan?
It’s pretty simple.
First off, I’m going to enjoy the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. And yeah, that includes the Christmas eve party and (defs) the New Year’s Eve festivities. And when I say “enjoy”, I don’t mean in a moderate, low fat, sugar substitute kind of way. I WANT the green bean casserole with the mushroom soup and fried onions on top. I WANT the dressing AND the mashed potatoes and gravy AND the cranberry sauce that you can see the shape of the can in. I want apple pie & ice cream, I want grandma’s version of chex mix with the lethal amount of salt and spices that I can wash down with my beer.
In short, I want it all.
On those days.
What I don’t need is to abandon my fitness routine starting on Thanksgiving and continuing until January 2. I can enjoy the days themselves without wrecking my generally healthy lifestyle. 4 or 5 days over the course of 5-6 weeks is not going to significantly affect your weight or fitness. Another thing is, if you’re used to eating smaller portions, what you consider “splurging” is usually not too “splurgy”. (yeah, I make up words. So?) Whereas if you give yourself from Nov. 28th to Jan. 2nd, you’d be amazed how much your appetite, and capacity for stuffing yourself, can grow. You can do some serious damage to your 10 ¾ months of generally healthy eating and activity if it’s a 24/7 thing throughout the holidays.
So, my plan, in short, is.
- Enjoy the holidays. “The holidays” being Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas, NYE & New Years.
- Keep to my normal eating habits on the other days
- Keep to my fitness routine throughout.
- Forgive myself on the days I screw up, and get right back on the “wellness horse” again.
That’s it. That’s all.
Pretty simple, I know. But I like simple. I’ll stick to simple. Maybe I’m a simple-minded guy. I’ve certainly been accused of it. And worse. But that’s a story for another day. Most importantly, at least from my perspective, whatever your plans for the holiday season include, enjoy them and live your best life my friends!