How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining WeightOct 11, 2020
If you live in North America, then you know that it's common to put on anywhere between 5-10 lbs during this season. I was speaking with a friend the other day and she mentioned that she has a pattern in her life where she loses about 15 lbs in the Spring/Summer months and then regains about 20-25 lbs in the Fall/Winter months. Finding that she ends up gaining a bit more weight with each passing year. This has her feeling more and more sluggish. And as she gets older she's finding it more difficult to lose weight during the summer months. She's not alone. This is a pattern that many people typically experience in North America. And the Holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas plays a big part in this common pattern.
If you know me, then you know that I am not weight-obsessed. In fact, even when clients engage me to help them lose weight, I always try to shift their focus to regaining their health. Focusing on their health does two things. First, it allows the changes they make to be long lasting, far past our time together. Second, it allows them to shift their focus and energy on uncovering their root issues, the real culprit of the weight gain, whether it be psychological or physiological. Ultimately they end up losing weight, but this time for good!
But even if you don't deal with all your root issues, you can do one thing TODAY to help you break this cycle of gaining weight through the Holidays.
My solution is going to sound simple but stick with me. My tip for today is to set an intention before you eat a meal or before you attend a gathering during the Holidays. What I mean by setting an intention is to make a conscious decision as to how full you would like to feel after that particular meal and make a plan of action to help you get to your desired level of fullness.
Take a look at this video to get an idea of how to apply this at a family gathering.
Setting intentions is a powerful, well researched, tool to actually help you achieve your goals, without requiring a lot of willpower. Most of the time, when we are surrounded by a lot of food, it generally requires the exertion of a fair amount of willpower to not overindulge and overeat. This is true of family dinners or gatherings but also when we're at home and surrounded by sweets and treats that normally wouldn't be available at home. Not having the food around is the best way to avoid eating it, but sometimes that's not possible.
In these cases, it's important to have a plan in place and researchers call this plan an implementation intention. The implementation intention generally should define, when, where & how. For the example of eating dinner with family the intention could be "Before I eat my meal I will set an intention of how I want to feel after the meal" OR "When at a family holiday dinner, I will fill up my dinner plate with my favourite food and vegetables and will eat until I am comfortably full, leaving room for a bit of dessert". Researchers have found that stating specific plans of action or intentions actually results in significant follow through with little willpower required.
Research finds that this is effective because by outlining a clear plan of action and clarifying exactly what you need to work on, you make the task simpler which means it requires less motivation to do it. So when you go to an event, and you're surrounded by distractions and food that you normally might not eat, you can revert back to your plan. The environment itself provides the cue for you to recall the intention that you set for yourself. So it's like you end up going into autopilot with your plan because you considered it ahead of time.
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