A Reflection on Holiday Eating

A few weeks ago, I made some very bold statements regarding the holidays.  About how I wasn’t going to let the holiday season be an excuse to make bad food choices and pack on the pounds.  About how my accountabilibuddies would be the push I needed to say no to the eggnog, cookies, and dips.  And while I can’t say with total honesty that I was successful, I was better than I could have been, and for me, that’s a win.

I’ve decided that rather than focusing on the negative (I gained about 3 pounds), I will focus on the things I did right, the things that worked, the things I did comparatively well this year compared to years gone by.  I hope that by celebrating my achievements instead of focusing on my failures, I can inspire myself to do even better next year.

I didn’t stuff myself on Thanksgiving.  I truly think this is the first time in memory that I didn’t eat myself uncomfortable on Thanksgiving.  I had a little bit of everything, including pie, but I didn’t force it.  I wasn’t overfull, I was happy.  This is a huge accomplishment for me, and one I think I can repeat next year.

I backed off the eggnog, big time.  One of my favorite things about the holiday season has long been a big ole eggnog cocktail.  I used to do rum, but these days, it’s bourbon.  Something about that sweet, rich eggnog, combined with the bite of the bourbon, with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg on top…  I’m actually salivating just thinking about it.  And usually, I give myself “permission” to drink as many of these as I want, because it’s a “special,” seasonal treat that I can only have a few weeks out of the year, even though an 8 oz glass of eggnog contains 223 calories, 20 g of sugar, and 11 g of fat!  This year, I’m pretty sure I only had three.  One on Thanksgiving, and two in the days around Christmas.

On more than one occasion, I took a taste of a treat (cookie, sweet, etc), and when it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I stopped eating it.  I have a weird thing with sweets, where if I take something, and it’s not as tasty as I thought it would be, I eat the whole thing anyway because it’s a treat and I should like it.  I don’t know why, but it’s true.  Even if a cookie is too sweet, or too dry, or tastes a little off, I will still eat the whole thing.  This year, I tried really hard to focus in on what I was eating, and if it wasn’t just right, to stop.  This may not seem like much, but for me, it’s huge.  If I could completely break myself of this habit, I’d be a lot healthier.

I got my veggies in.  This will always be an accomplishment for me, because I didn’t start eating most vegetables until I was an adult.  But I made sure that if vegetables were available at a meal, I took a nice big serving and ate them first.  I almost always eat the vegetable portion of my meals first these days because it helps me feel more full and ultimately, eat less of everything else.

Of course, none of this changes the fact that I was pretty much binge-drinking Ketel One and club soda, eating from sunup to sundown, and generally making poor nutrition choices for two straight weeks, but like I said, for me, these are all small victories that added up to a less disastrous-than-usual holiday eating season.

How did you fare with holiday eating/weight gain?

What’s your favorite holiday treat you just can’t turn down?

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Here I Go Again (Not) On My Own

Weight is a subject that I’ve touched on several times over the last few months.  To sum up, I’ve gained some weight and some inches over the last year or so, and I’m not happy about it.  Summer of 2013, I was fit, confident and happy.  I was running moderate distances 2-3 times per week, and hitting up 1-2 strength/bootcamp type classes per week.  I was eating generally well, keeping the booze consumption under control, and feeling pretty good about myself.

Fall of 2013, Ben and I tore up our Massachusetts roots and headed back to our home state of Vermont.  The transition went well in most ways, except in the diet and exercise department.  I fell off the wagon, hard, and have been running behind and trying unsuccessfully to climb back on ever since.  Now, we’re entering a time of year that is pretty much synonymous with excess–pies, cakes, cookies, eggnog and more, all trotted out on a daily basis, begging to be eaten.  Coworkers will bring in their leftover treats from home, there will be parties galore, and lots of seasonal delicacies that only emerge between mid-November and January.  I usually end up overindulging and feeling crappy about myself, and of course there’s the oft-made (and oft-broken) New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight!” or “get in shape!” that never actually happens and leaves me feeling like a failure, until the next year when I do it all over again.

This year I’m saying “no.”  Not again.  No more.  No more eating to the point of illness.  No more, “But it’s Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years, don’t hold back!”  No more packing on the pounds and feeling sorry for myself.  And I know I (and many others) say this every year, but this time is different.  This time, I’ve got help–my accountabilibuddies (Kim, Lisa, Kellie and Nicole) are back on the case, and we’re going to stop being enablers and get tough on each other.  We check in daily, we encourage each other to be active, and say things like “Back away from the donut box.”

This will likely be even more challenging due to my current non-running status, but I know for a fact that diet is 90% of the problem for me anyway.  This means it’s more important than ever to really focus on eating nutritious foods, cutting back on the sugar and booze, and getting a handle on portion sizes.

I probably won’t be doing regular check-ins on this, but I’ll be sure to do a wrap up after the holidays.

How do you combat holiday weight gain?