About mid-October, a lot of us just fall down the Halloween rabbit hole. We start to see the candy. We think about bringing the candy into the house. We’re resisting the candy. The candy is not the problem at all. The problem is we make it into a huge production. “I ate the candy. I ruined everything. I suck.”
Before you know it, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Then, Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve. And you end up and a proverbial holiday hole that feels like it’s getting deeper and deeper. Let’s unravel some truths about the holidays and weight loss.
You can’t throw away 25% of the year.
That’s what’s happening. You just say f*ck it. We have to be logical and see what is happening. Beating yourself up about bad food choices is not helping. It’s just contributing more to this all-or-nothing madness we have when it comes to our weight. All the things that we say that we want, we throw it out, as soon as that peanut m&m hits our mouth and makes us think that we’re a bad person.
First of all, I love peanut M&M’s. I mean, I don’t when I slow down and eat them. I kind of laugh. I’m like, “what is the deal with this?” Then I recognize a lot of it is just memory. The memory of, “I love these” or “these are my dad’s favorite.” It’s kind of crazy how your brain plays all these tricks on you.
Let’s just all agree that we’re not going to throw away 25% of the year. Cut that bullsh*t out.
You can learn how to enjoy the holidays.
If you love Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever you love and you want to eat your favorite food. F*ck yeah, let’s learn how to do that and not throw away all the other days. Let’s take ownership of what we put into our mouths. Nothing’s happening by accident. As you’re thinking about the holidays and the days that you enjoy, make a list. How many are there? Not that many. Yet, here we are flushing months down the toilet.
So let’s get to some strategy.
I’m not trying to beat you up. I’m trying to empower you to take a look at this. If you love holidays, and you celebrate them all, God love ya. That doesn’t mean whatever you do on that day, that you can’t get back to your plan the following day. That’s my point.
I’m going to give you seven different strategies that you can use any time of year, but especially during the holidays. There is something very magical, and also very triggering about the holidays. I’m not a holiday person. I will say I do love some Christmas lights, they are one of my favorite things.
I don’t find the holidays are that triggering for me. I do know some people who feel sort of beholden, compelled, and/or obligated to do certain things. That’s when, I think, our triggers get tripped. I think we can be kind and curious.
If we’re feeling;
It is okay. That’s part of the human experience.
You don’t have to love everything about the holidays.
You’re not Santa f*cking Claus. You’re just a human trying to get through this human life. Let’s just acknowledge that there are some things that you probably like and some things that you don’t. Maybe some things you weren’t even aware of that were triggers for you.
Some of the big ones we can’t overlook, like missing our loved ones. During the holidays when we’re used to going to somebody’s house or seeing that person. Over the last couple of years, COVID kicked some of that anxiety for us, right? We weren’t with our loved ones. We were missing people. Nobody was traveling. Nobody was getting together.
You either love or dread social occasions based on your tolerance for cooking, cleaning, traveling, being around people, or just feeling compelled to eat all the things. We all have a different meter of tolerance on all of these things.
I don’t love to cook.
I don’t love to travel during the holidays.
I don’t really love to be around a lot of people.
I never ever feel compelled to eat the things.
That’s just me.
I know what I want and what I do not want.
It is okay to have all the emotions.
All the excitement. All the dread. We just want to notice it. We want to be really curious and to give ourselves that same grace that we would give somebody else that we love.
I want to acknowledge too that holidays will conjure up all the memories and all of the feelings that nobody wants to feel. We like to feel joy and happiness but that’s, at best, 50% of our lives. Feelings are a big reason why we eat or drink when we are not hungry. Most of us think we have an overeating problem, when really we have an under feeling problem.
Going forward into the holidays, any holiday or special occasion. Be that anniversaries, birthdays, days off, weddings, weekends, or whatever else. You can use all of these strategies in everyday life. It’s just heightened during the holidays.
1) Reverse Engineer.
- What is your goal for the holiday?
- What is it that you really want?
- What is the result that you want?
It could be that you just want to get through it.
I want to frame it based on who I think you are. You’re probably trying to lose weight, maybe trying not to gain weight, maybe trying not to feel guilty about making the food choices that you’re going to make. I would take a couple minutes and write down everything that comes to your mind about what your goal is for the holiday. All of it.
Whether it is:
- I want to see my relatives.
- I want to give out presents.
- I want to be present.
- I want to feel calm.
- I want to feel relaxed.
- I want to eat my favorite cookies.
Whatever comes to mind. Think about yourself on that day, whether that is Christmas or Valentine’s Day or your birthday.
What is your goal? What do we want here? What is the result that you would want?
If we then fast forward into the following day, what would we have to look back on?
2) Anticipate the Obstacles and Pitfalls.
Both in terms of the circumstances, and in your brain. What do I mean by that? What could be the obstacles or pitfalls that get in the way of your goals for the holiday? You can probably anticipate something’s going to happen. What could get in my way of having a great time or reaching a goal or whatever it is that I want for that holiday?
Those are circumstances, those are things outside of our control.
- If it snows and I’m snowed in, guess what? Out of my control.
- My oven breaks? Out of my control.
- Amazon truck doesn’t bring all the presents I ordered? Out of my control.
- I could beat myself up, but you know what? Out of my control.
We can anticipate some of the obstacles and pitfalls. Our brain will offer us things like; all-or-nothing thinking, urgency and urges around food, and people pleasing.
Ask yourself, what do you need to do to provide some certainty around the obstacles or pitfalls?
- Do you need to bring food?
- Do you need to plan?
- Do you need to go work out?
- Do you need extra water?
- Do you need to practice saying no?
This is not your first holiday season.
3) Understand How Much Control You Have.
- You get to decide.
- You’re the only one who’s putting food in your mouth.
- You can be an advocate for yourself.
- You can practice saying “no, thank you.”
- You can know ahead of time the things that you do want to eat, and things you don’t want to eat.
Most foods we look forward to, taste way better in our heads.
We just think about it and start fantasizing about how good those cookies are going to taste or how good that cocktail is going to taste. Maybe the first bite or first mouthful is really good. The rest of its kind of average. That’s normal.
It is okay to take a bite of something and throw it away. To say that it wasn’t as good as you thought it was going to be. If I’m eating something that I don’t like, that I don’t enjoy, I don’t want that. I don’t need that. I’m not hungry for it and I get nothing by eating it, except a couple of 100 extra calories.
I want you to remember who the f*ck you are! You’re the boss applesauce!
4) Make a Plan.
Many of us will notice that our brain is going to resist. I’m not telling you to make a plan that’s like, one small piece of chicken and a lettuce leaf. Unless that’s what you want. I think having a plan always works really well.
Brains love plans and you can make them in advance. Even if you’re not entirely sure of what will be served.
- You can decide if I’m going to drink alcohol.
- What do I drink?
- What don’t I drink?
- How much will I drink?
- When will I start drinking?
- When will I end drinking?
You might say no alcohol after 7 pm. That could be something you employ as part of your plan. Don’t overlook how easy it could be.
I’m not saying you have to have every minute of your holiday planned out. You could know ahead of time whether you’re having dessert or what kind of dessert or how much dessert. Am I eating protein and vegetables? Am I looking forward to my favorite mashed potatoes?
Don’t let your brain talk you into the idea that you couldn’t possibly have any idea what’s going to happen.
We’re going to advocate for ourselves for what is in our best interest. Going back to number one, what’s your goal? If you’re on a weight loss journey, you can lose weight during the holidays and still have whatever it is. Still have the alcohol. Still have the pie or the cookies.
You can still have it and still lose weight, my friends. You just can’t have it all the time. That’s the difference.
5) The Four Ps.
Plan ahead. Plan for obstacles. Have a plan A. Have a plan B. Put it in writing
Learning to pause. Whenever anyone says anything, we react. Whenever anyone offers us food, we just take it.
Pause. Take your time. Take a deep breath.
- Ask yourself:
- Am I hungry?
- Do I want this?
- Should I say no?
- Can I have it for later?
Pausing buys you time. This is not like a game show where you have to have an instant answer. You can take your time and think about what you want to do. If you did say yes and then you changed your mind, you can still say no.
3) Playing it out.
As I’m pausing and I’m thinking, somebody offered me another glass of wine. I like wine, but:
- How will I feel later tonight?
- How will they feel tomorrow morning?
- How will they feel in a couple days when I go, I can’t believe I drank that much.
That’s how I play it out. Is this going to help me serve me? Will I regret this? Will I be up all night taking Pepto Bismol? Will I be like laying on my cold bathroom floor wishing I hadn’t done all the things?
Play out all the scenarios that would happen by you giving a yes or no answer. Now notice that your brain is going to be like, “But if I don’t say yes, someone’s feelings will be hurt.
You saying no doesn’t hurt people’s feelings. It doesn’t. You have to stop that.
Let’s make another decision. Let’s figure out that next thing. What can I do instead? I don’t want to spend all day navigating choices, which is why we plan. I don’t want to spend all day freaking out that someone’s going to ask me to eat something to drink something.
We’re always practicing becoming who we want to be with food or around food during the holidays.
- You’re not a little kid.
- You’re an adult.
- You’re a grown ass woman.
You can actually become a woman who feeds herself the foods and the drinks that are in alignment with where she’s going. Who she wants to be. Her goals.
6) Fact Check.
The fact is Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, it’s just one day. One day out of the whole month out of the whole year.
Christmas is a big party and there’s gonna be a lot of food and a lot of drinks. It’s one day out of the whole month of December. It’s one day out of 365 days out of the year. It doesn’t have to be the next 30 days of f*cking eating.
We’re not going to gain a copious amount of weight in one day.
If you are planning the cookies, the cake, lasagna, meatballs, a turkey, a ham, all the things, You’re really not going to gain tons of weight in a day. The scale might go up, sure, because we’re eating and drinking. All the extra carbohydrates we’re taking in are like little sponges. Every gram of carbohydrate is pulling in three grams of water.
Have you got on the scale the day after Christmas? It’s going to be up. If it went up two pounds, three pounds, or five pounds, that’s not body fat gain. You have to remind yourself of that.
That’s fact-checking. The scale is going to go up and down. It doesn’t mean you are going to gain five pounds in a day. That’s impossible.
Eating pie does not make us terrible people. Stop it!
7) Little Actions.
I’m all about the little actions that we can do that add up.
What are the things I can do:
- To lose weight?
- To maintain my weight?
- To not gain weight?
- To feel good?
- To feel like I have control?
- To keep my head in the game?
As you know, I am a big fan of walking. Get up and move. Walk around the house. Literally, walk around the house. Get outside and do laps around your house if you’re in a place where you can’t walk. I love walking. I try to walk in place sometimes. I just try to always be moving because, for the most part, I feel like I’m sitting a lot.
1) Get moving. Try to fit in a walk. Bring others with you. That could be something that is part of a tradition, whether just for the holiday or for who you are. You’re a person who gets out and walks.
2) Water. Lots and lots of water. You can make water a game. If you have a favorite water bottle or you just like collecting all the 20-ounce bottles. Drink lots of water. Before you go to the party and while you’re at the party.
3) Wear your jeans. Jeans don’t lie. If you’re trying to have a better relationship with your scale and not use the scale as your moral compass, your emotion meter, or your worthiness check. Wear jeans. Wear them all the time.
Honestly, with COVID I didn’t go anywhere. It was over a full year before I put on pants that were not workout pants. I was terrified even though most jeans now are made with stretchy material. I was terrified. I mean they fit but they could have fit better, that is for sure.
Wearing jeans or wearing something form-fitting to whatever holiday so you’re reminded of “that’s my waistband.” It’s not elastic, it’s not workout stretchy jeggings. I feel my waistband and I’m not going to eat till I feel like my waistband is going to cut my body in half.
It is a physical reminder that you don’t have to eat till you’re overfull. You can keep checking in with yourself.
4) Focus on protein. Fill your plate with protein and vegetables and then whatever else you can fit on there. If you love those mashed potatoes and you have to have them with butter or you like stuffing or you like whatever it is that you like, make the majority of what you eat protein and vegetables.
Lots of proteins that you have on holidays are amazing. Steak tips and glazed ham and smoked turkey, etc. Protein will be more filling than vegetables. Protein and vegetables take up a lot of room in your stomach. Protein takes longer to digest and you even burn calories while you digest protein.
This is a good tip, especially if you don’t know what kind of food will be served. Wherever you go, whether it’s a restaurant or somebody’s house, they’re going to have protein and vegetables served. If you’re worried, you could always bring your stuff. If you’re asked to bring something and you’re worried they won’t have what you want, bring that vegetable platter. Bring some type of protein meal, even if it’s deli meat at least it is protein.
5) Only eat the things that you love! You don’t have to eat everything. I realize our brains are very focused on a lot of emotion and memory. It is what you make of it.
If you don’t love certain foods, don’t have them. You have the agency to say yes or no.
Whether Christmas is a couple of days away, and you want to start thinking about it. Or it’s New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day or your upcoming birthday or spring break or whatever. All of these things have similar components.
- There is going to be food, lots of food.
- There is going to be alcohol, lots of alcohol.
- There are going to be other people and other people have other minds.
6) People do people things, and people say people stuff. Just because someone says or does something does not mean anything until you make it mean something.
Anticipate who’s going to be there. No matter who is there or what the occasion is, you can still decide ahead of time how much you’re going to eat and drink.
You’re there for the experience. You’re there to meet people. You’re there to take it all in. We don’t have to eat and drink to have fun or avoid having not fun.
I want to wish you and all of your loved ones a healthy and happy holiday season.
NOTES IN ANCHOR
About mid-October, a lot of us just fall down the Halloween rabbit hole. We start to see the candy. We think about bringing the candy into the house. We’re resisting the candy. The candy is not the problem at all.
The problem is we make it into a huge production. “I ate the candy. I ruined everything. I suck.” Before you know it, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Then, Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve. And you end up and a proverbial holiday hole that feels like it’s getting deeper and deeper. Let’s unravel some truths about the holidays and weight loss on episode 28 of the Unf*ck Your Weight Loss podcast now!
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ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.
Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.
She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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