Monday, November 29, 2010

Losing the Thanksgiving Weight You Just Gained

Well, Thanksgiving is over and what some of you are left with are 7 pounds of turkey, 1 sliver of pumpkin pie, a whole lot of corn casserole, and 5 new pounds of fat on your belly and butt.  But you can't be surprised, right?  It happens every year - it's what we do at Thanksgiving.  We overeat.

And then there are the leftovers.  The calorie rich, overly sweetened leftovers that the suckers who host Thanksgiving are faced with every time they open the refrigerator for the next week.  With November and December come the obliteration of self control and self respect in America, when everyone gives in to their sweet tooth and eats what they want.  The inner child prevails, and that outer adult gets fat.  And how could it be any different in the midst of Thanksgiving gatherings, office Christmas parties, Christmas cookie parties, leftover cookies from the cookie party at the office, Christmas and then New Years?  It's not your fault!  Who could resist the temptations?!  Right.    

Don't get me wrong.  I'm no stranger to this phenomenon.  I have a batch of Thanksgiving cookies in my freezer right now that my boyfriend nearly had to cattle-prod me away from last night.

Boyfriend:  Neely, if you eat cookies now, you won't be able to sleep later.  
Me: (Eyes bulging, spittle flying) But I WANT to eat them now.  Get OUT OF MY WAY, guard!!!
Boyfriend: (Blocking the fridge with his body, hands up in anticipation of my thrashing teeth and nails) Step away from the freezer, Neely.

Despite having cleaned up my diet, I still sometimes have altercations with sugar cravings.  Luckily, the boyfriend won.  I'll get him next time, though... 

Back to you.  You've gained weight and the party's just begun, so what do you do about it?

Tip 1
Here's my opening tip.  Try not gaining the weight in the first place.  Easier said than done, I know.  It takes practice to accomplish this colossal task during the dreaded holiday season.  The main reasons people gain weight through the holidays are:

1) We repeatedly feed ourselves as if we were Michael Phelps and
2) We eat too much sugar.

So practice self restraint - we'll call it self respect - through the year and you may just find the strength to say, "No, thank you," to a third helping of banana cream pie at Christmas dinner.  (By the way, I'm in no way disregarding the gluttony that may take place at non-Christmas celebrations.  I'm not religiously biased in my harsh criticisms of Americans' eating habits.)

Karamu, the Kwanzaa feast!
A lot of us lack the self control to stop eating when we're full.  In ways, we're actually hardwired to gorge ourselves when we can, in case we don't find enough to eat later.  Most people have access to refrigerators, grocery stores and restaurants at all times, so there's no reason to think that we need to stuff ourselves now for fear that we will starve later if we don't.  I used to struggle with overeating at almost every meal.  I'd eat my food and then eat my friends' leftovers and still want more, even though I was stuffed to the point of being dizzy.  I'd eat an entire Chipotle burrito and want another one.  Winning the battle against your evolutionary mind takes practice and rational thought, and with some time and conscious effort, I brought my evolutionary brain up to speed.  So throughout the year, every day, remind yourself that you don't need to feel overwhelmingly full at every single meal.  You're going to eat again.  

Tip 2
Here's my second tip for losing the holiday paunch.  Get very clear about your motivations for losing weight.  I had a client come in the other day who told me he wanted to lose weight because he wanted to look good.  FINALLY, someone just comes out and says it!  I don't care what your reasons are.  Whatever will motivate you the most to start treating yourself better, use it.  If you don't have that goal in mind, there will be nothing to pull you away from that leftover pumpkin pie.  Losing weight, for those of you who actually need to lose it, is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself if you do it right.  

Ok, get to the point.  How do you lose the weight?

You lose the holiday chub by eating right and exercising.  But what is "right"?  And how much exercise?  Those are the questions.  I'll tell you the answers next week.

Until then...

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