Unless you isolate yourself in a cave, refuse to visit your relatives or spend Christmas in a remote place away from all the traditions, chances are you’ll be eating differently for a week or so. And differently usually means heavier meals that lead to some weight gain. We already know this happens because it’s the same every year. But what can we do to lose the holiday weight?
Well, it’s a drill we also know. Or at least we know what hasn’t worked so far. And if you’ve come to this point in your life without realising that trying to fix a problem with a solution that hasn’t worked the 10 times you’ve previously tried it, then you really need to do some introspection.
So, as you’ve guessed, this year I’m challenging you to do things differently. Losing that extra weight you’ve put on during the holidays by doing things exactly opposite from how you’ve done them the previous years. That’s right: no diets, no complete restrictions, no more compensating huge meals with tough workouts, and most importantly, thinking less about food.
Lose weight without doing anything special
You don’t need to do any magic trick or punishment plan that you’ll start January 1st. Just rely on a few healthy habits and be consistent.
It’s ok to calm down first, breathe, and do some damage assessment. How much did you really gain? In how many days? How different did you eat from what and how you eat outside the holidays?
If you haven’t completely stuffed yourself with everything it means that most of the weight is water anyway. And that’s ok, because you can lose that quite fast.
Things will go as following:
You’ll finish the holiday leftovers.
You’ll go shopping for regular healthier groceries.
You’ll start cooking regular non holiday dishes.
You’ll go back to your regular food and eating habits.
You’ll eat less calorie dense food such as sweets or fatty dishes.
All of these will already have a big impact and you’ll be able to tell the difference in a matter of days.
You’ll lose some of the water weight just by eating normally and the rest you can lose by being more active.
For example, this year I gained very little weight, despite all the cake I had. That’s because I kept training, going on hikes and walks. Keeping your muscles busy and having a decent amount of muscle mass helps your metabolism face all the goodies you’re giving it.
Also, exercise, just like hikes, walking your dog or going out with friends keeps you busy and when you’re busy you’re out of the kitchen. Boredom and loneliness are two of the main reasons why we eat without being hungry.
Just don’t punish yourself with exercise. You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet and that’s also not the point. Having a big meal and then hitting the gym or going for a run in order to burn some of that cake will only reinforce some really bad eating patterns that are just the beginning of a beautiful friendship with an eating disorder.
Also, don’t try to compensate by starving yourself by fasting or severe dieting between Christmas and New Year’s or after New Year’s. Like I said, just by going back to your regular food, eating habits and exercise routine, most of the weight you’ve put on, that is water retention, will disappear in a few days.
For the more stubborn weight that won’t go away you’ll need to be consistent with the good habits for a while.
Also, don’t obsessively weight yourself. Once a day is more than enough. Or even better, if you want to see bigger changes, hop on the scale every two days. You already know (from last years’ Christmases) that weighting yourself too often only increases the frustration and impatience.
And if you remember the first point I made in this post, it’s all about chilling the f down a little and thinking less about food, what to eat, how much, when, why, so on. You already know how stressing over it, feeling guilty, weighting yourself, eating just plain salad or starting a strict diet feels and works.
It doesn’t really work, otherwise you wouldn’t end up doing the same things and feeling the same after every holiday season.
Learn from the ghost of Christmases past
One of my favourite questions when it comes to getting results in ANY area of our lives is: how has that been working for you?
It’s a good question to ask yourself now, on holidays. Look back to the last 5 Christmases. What went well and what didn’t?
Maybe you’ve been doing the same things over and over again and you’re still in the same spot. Starving yourself after Christmas, starting a new fad diet, giving up bread, dairy, sugar or all of them at once, killing yourself in the gym on a full stomach just to feel like you’re compensating.
How has that been working for you? Chances are, not that well. So why not try a different approach this time?
Take it easier. If you do that, you’ll go easier on the restrictions and on the eating, as well. Maybe you won’t have an entire pot of pork meat if you give yourself permission to have some any time you want.
Be a bit more mindful. Maybe you don’t even like or crave some of the Christmas dishes and you’re having them just because they’re there.
Go on a walk with the ghosts of all the holidays past and try to think about how you could do things just 1% better this time. Maybe take less Christmas dinner leftovers? Maybe have some fish instead of pork on New Year’s dinner? Maybe drink a bit less? Maybe make a reinterpreted, lighter version of those traditional dishes?
As for the getting back on track protocol, you know the drill already:
- go shopping for some fresh food instead of relying on leftover pork steak.
- don’t try to finish all the leftovers at once, just to get rid of them. Split them into smaller portions that you can have for several days, give them to the poor, or to guests who want to have them, but just don’t clear the fridge at once.
- drink at least 2l of water a day.
- have vegetables at every single meal.
- take it easier with the sugar. It will be quite a challenge if you’ve had sweets, because sugar just asks for more sugar, but in a few days you should be able to break the cravings.
- build your meals around lean protein: chicken, fish, eggs, lighter cheese
- help your digestion by having a cup of warm lemon water every morning, 30 min before breakfast and some green tea or senna tea during the day.
- move every day. I’ll be starting a 7 day challenge on this topic soon, so make sure you’re following me on Instagram to catch the start.
- bonus points if you create a scandal by choosing a light New Year’s dinner menu (you know there’s a Romanian tradition/superstition that says eating fish on New Year’s will bring you luck, right?)
YOU make the choices
Remember that it’s YOU making the choices. It’s you shopping for the New Year’s dinner or at least you can have a say on the menu, it’s YOU choosing what and how much you put in your plate, it’s YOU saying yes or no to a cake that someone is offering you, it’s YOU who’s been making all this effort to be healthier so far, and it’s also YOU who will deal with how you feel later. It’s everyone for himself.
Sad to say it, but whoever will be stuffing you with cake this year won’t care that you’ve gained 5 kilos over the holidays, you feel bloated, your jeans don’t fit and you feel like dying after running an easy 5k.
And if you need help, ideas, inspiration for cooking, don’t be afraid to reach out or do some research.
Have a wonderful New Year!