Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy, Healthy, and dare I say- Hot for the Holidays

Recently I had a client share with me that she has great success sticking to her eating and exercise program when she has a specific event to shoot for, but she loses her resolve and slowly gains fat back when it's passed.  Her dilemma got me thinking about the holiday season, and the fact that this is the time of year when so many of us experience weight re-gain, and it occurred to me that we could find a way to think about the holidays that would support our goals.

When it comes to the Holiday Season, the Barriers to Change and Maintenance Get Higher.

Let's take a look at two barriers to making and keeping positive changes right now.

The Holidays are a time when we think of others, and when we make an extra effort to make them happy.  You don't have to be a mom to have plenty of people to please this time of year.  Family, lovers, friends, co-workers, and the community all want a piece of you- those demanding, oblivious, hard to please... oops. I mean, you're a good person and you want to do your part for the people and the community you care about.

This Leads to Barrier Number one: Stress

I promise, I wouldn't bring up the obvious without offering a solution, and here it is.  If you already exercise regularly you must not stop, and if you don't you simply must add some movement you enjoy to your busy, scary, over packed and overwhelming schedule.  Um, no really I didn't mean it that way- there is room-really.

In all seriousness though, if you're reading this you mean business, so I'll be honest.  This will be my third holiday season in a fit healthy body, and the basis of my ongoing success is regular moderate exercise that incorporates enough intensity and progression to keep me in the maintenance zone.
I happen to be participating in the 12 Turbulence Training Transformation Contest right now, so I am going for progression in the gym, and a reasonable calorie deficit in the kitchen as well. If I was in maintenance mode right now that would mean three scheduled resistance/interval workouts per week, with at least a half an hour of enjoyable physical activity on three other days.  Yes gardening and housework count if you do them with the awareness that the point is to keep moving.  Yoga, dance, swimming, dog walking, these are all ideal activities.  You've got to pick one, or several, and do them.

Why:   It works.  The time you spend moving will make you feel better, sleep better when you do get to bed, and it will ease stress.  Last year I wrote about self-selected intensity and a study that showed that it reliably reduced anxiety.  The fabulous news is that self-selected intensity means working as hard as you want to.  Yes, whether you go to the gym, the park, or walking in the neighborhood, you get to decide how much effort you put in.  But you must move.

Barrier Number Two: Extraordinary Culinary Temptation

Look at the picture from my last post if you want a visual.  The sweets, the drinks, the party platters, and the heavy meals are lining up for your approval.  Worse, the people who made them are lining up for your approval.  Add to that the fact that indulgence will briefly quiet the anxiety you're currently experiencing over all the people you have to please this time of year.  Not only that, but you remember your misspent youth, and you think it would be fun to party up, raise your glass like Ke$ha and Pink and get a little tipsy at your holiday open house.

Oh, right, that's me again, not you.  Sorry.

Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging without an answer.  Here it is again, the same old answer.  Have a plan.  Get out a calendar and have a look at it right now.  There are 58 days between now and January 2nd.  I'll round that number up to 60, you'll see why in a minute.  I have learned from my experience that you can reach new figure goals, or maintain your current figure, if you stick to your standard plan 90% of the time.  That leaves six days when you can have more calories and let in some pure pleasure food or drink.  Please be aware that these pure pleasure foods do not include binge or trigger foods.  If you're lucky enough to have no idea what I mean by this I'm genuinely happy for you.  If however, you know that Christmas cookies will send you on a three day sugar bender, I am asking you to admit that and avoid them.

I hear you- you're saying how Catherine how do I do that?  You need a planned substitute.  You need something you enjoy to take the place of treats that could put you into a food trance.  (Food trance- when you eat something and your free will gets hijacked until the entire plate, bag, or platter is gone, and you're left wondering what the heck happened)

Now is the time, in these weeks before Thanksgiving (in the US), to figure out what you'll eat, and how much on your special days.  Maybe these foods won't even be sweets or typical holiday foods.  Maybe they'll be special because they contain finer ingredients, or because they're especially appealing to the eye.  You choose!  It's your body, your time, your celebration.  You get to decide.  What a gift you'll be giving yourself by planning a beautiful season.

P.S.  Remember the client who said she needed an event to help her stick to her resolve?  Why not use your planned celebrations as goals and events themselves?  Make feeling and looking wonderful on these days part of what makes them special.

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