A message to those of you trying to become leaner: beware, the holidays are coming. This time of year, most people overindulge, add fat and plan to lose the weight later. It doesn’t usually happen that way, however. From authoritynutrition.com:
Most people don’t gain weight overnight… it happens slowly, over years and decades.
But the rate is uneven throughout the year and spikes dramatically during the holidays, a time when people tend to binge on all sorts of delicious holiday foods and eat much more than their bodies need.
The problem is that sometimes people don’t lose all the weight back. They might gain 3 pounds, but only lose 2 after the holidays are over, leading to slow and steady weight gain over time (11).
In fact, a large percentage of people’s lifetime weight gain can be explained just by the 6 week holiday period.
Y’all know we don’t measure the progress of our health goals by stepping on a scale. The number on the display matters little in terms of our progress. We are mindful of the consequences of carrying around extra fat though. We should be aware that our holiday indulgences have impact on our ability to lose body fat.
You know my view on indulgences. I think well-planned indulgences are not only okay, but a necessary part of overall well-being. Come November, many of us start looking towards Thanksgiving as a time to splurge. In a vacuum, I think this makes some sense. One day of even extreme indulgence sandwiched by weeks of nutritional sensibility will likely not result in the accumulation of excess body fat.
Yet this isn’t the pattern most of us gravitate towards. Societally, we tend to view our eating strategies in conjunction with a holiday season and beyond, rather than a holiday. We tend to stretch Thanksgiving into Thanksgiving weekend. Come Monday morning, we’re struggling with cravings. Our willpower is sapped by all the manic holiday preparations, and it’s not unusual to watch old patterns crop up and dominate through Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa. Next thing we know, January 1 is here, and we desperately make resolutions to do better (we all know how that turns out). By that time, layers of unwanted tissue have been added. The cycle repeats itself year in and year out. A few calendars are replaced, and we, as a nation, are fat. From WebMD:
Fat gain really does require overeating over many days and weeks and months,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, nutritionist
There are strategies everywhere for managing the holidays. Some are quite useful. An internet search will yield ideas like bringing your own food to holiday parties or making the “better bad choice.” I’m not opposed to these strategies if they work for you.
My advice, however, is to plan large scale indulgences on the holidays themselves. Don’t think, don’t measure, don’t deprive, just enjoy. Commit to sticking with whole, unprocessed foods on the days prior to and after the event. This is the optimal strategy to feel both satisfied and confident about your process.