Healthy for the Holidays: my 5-point plan

November 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I have been on a really good streak with my diet and exercise since school started back in August. I think I’ve undone most of the damage I did with my indulgent, slothful summer. I’m feeling good and fitting back into all my clothes. But now the holidays are here and I’m stressing.

Every year since I lost the weight (this last time) I have gone “off the wagon” around the holidays, generally starting with Halloween: binging on sugar and fatty foods for two months and skipping exercise with the mentality that “it’s the holidays, what do you expect?” Then New Years rolls around and I have 20 or more pounds to lose AGAIN. I can gain 20 pounds faster than anybody. I’d bet you, but I’m not willing to gain it right now.

So this year I have been determined that I will not hit New Years with those extra 20+ pounds requiring a resolution to get back on the wagon. I want to stay on the wagon! I’ve NEVER been able to do this before. However, I don’t want to have to sacrifice enjoying the special things (and food) that the holidays bring. What I need is moderation, not something I am very good at. Actually something I totally suck at. My approach to Halloween, while not resulting in a derailment of my diet, did not in any way represent moderation. I skipped Halloween. I ate not one piece of Halloween candy. And I feel gypped. I’m still kind of resentful about it. I don’t want to feel that way about Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years (which also happens to be my 17th wedding anniversary).

So I need a plan. A plan that allows for holiday fun and treats, but which will not result in weight gain. So here is my 5-point plan for staying healthy for the holidays:

  1. Exercise daily. No more than one total day off (meaning no walking or anything) per week. No excuses! I can fit in at least a 30 minute run if nothing else. This means every single day during the holidays. Plan for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and New Years Day to be my total days off those weeks.
  2. Save all food indulgences for special occasions. This means no desserts or candy on non-event days when I’m just at home. We have lots of events coming up: two work Christmas parties, Thanksgiving dinner with lots of friends, a birthday party happy hour this Friday,  Santa breakfast at the pier, Christmas Eve caroling party with lots of friends and lots of food, vacation trip to Kentucky, 0ur anniversary. And more I can’t think of without looking at my calendar. I want to have special treats at all these events. If I have treats at home, it will lessen the “specialness” of the treats at the parties, so I will delay that gratification. You hear me self? You will!
  3. Enjoy treats at events in moderation. This one will be very hard. I can park myself next to an olive tray and go to town. I don’t even need a plate to way over-indulge. If you don’t load up a plate, no one notices, right? Um, not. So I think a good idea will be to actually have a plate at events. Put a small portion of all the things I want to have on the plate, eat what is on my plate, and be done.
  4. Limit alcohol at all events. No more than one alcoholic drink per event.  I want to be able to work out the day after every event. Plus, I am usually the designated driver, so this one will not be too hard for me. It may be a challenge when we are in D.C. and staying in a hotel room over night, but better not to get tipsy in front of work people anyway, right? The exception to this action point will be our anniversary. We will also be staying in a hotel room that night and it will be New Year’s Eve. All bets are off on alcohol for that night. And I already said New Years Day is a planned total day off of exercise.
  5. Taste testing only of my own baked treats. I plan to do lots of baking for the holidays this year. I want to make quick breads and cookies and bars and bourbon balls and all sorts of yummy things. I want to have baked goods on hand to give to all of my friends, acquaintances, teachers and strangers who make me smile 🙂 But, I don’t want to eat all these things. My indulgence in these items will be taste-testing crumbs and single bites, just to make sure they are worthy as gifts. The happiness I get from all of these treats will be from the smiles of the recipients, not from my tastebuds.

I think this plan embodies moderation. I am not planning on completely depriving myself of holiday goodness like I did for Halloween. I am considering reaching New Years Day without needing to “start over” to be a personal goal, just like my goal of running a 5K (which I WILL be doing on Thanksgiving Day). Both things are something I have never done before. Both things are something that I have in the past considered to be something I just couldn’t do. Couch to 5K has made me realize that I can do things that I previously thought were impossible. The satisfaction I get from being able to run three miles right now is enormous. I want that same satisfaction on New Years Day from having made it through the holidays while staying on track. Well, maybe I’ll have that sense of satisfaction on January 2nd after my hangover from New Years Eve subsides.

I’m really hoping that by having written all this out I can let go of some of the stress I’ve been having about the next six weeks. Does anybody have any other action plans that might help me make it through the holidays without regrets? Are you throwing in the towel for the holidays and planning to just start over at New Years? Am I alone in all this stressing?