Friday, October 28, 2011
I just returned from my daughter's Halloween celebration at preschool and I am reminded that we are embarking on National Eating Season. This is the parade of food that begins with Halloween and wraps up with Super Bowl Sunday. Following this season of eating, many Americans find themselves a little bit heavier. Even with the best of intentions and New Year's resolutions come January, research tells us that the weight gained during this time is often not lost again.
I understand how easy it can be to gain weight during the holidays with the barrage of all the unique food offerings of the season from the pumpkin spice lattes to Grandma's special apple pie to the egg nog. At the same time, I also know how important maintaining health, well-being, and an optimal quality of life is for so many people. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels, right? This is why I think it's vital to be proactive and make plans right now to prevent holiday weight gain. So I thought I'd share three solid strategies to help you get started on that today.
Put your goals in writing.
While it's definitely a step in the right direction to make a mental note that you'd like to maintain a healthy weight this holiday season, I believe that writing down your goals will only increase your chances of success. As you consider your goals for the season, be sure to make them SMART - specfiic, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. If the goal is to maintain or even lose weight, then be sure to consider the behaviors that are needed to do that. What will you need to change in regards to food intake, physical activity, or stress management to achieve your weight management goal?
Monitor your food intake and physical activity.
In my professional experience, I've seen what a powerful tool monitoring food intake and physical activity can be for those who want to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. My clients understand the value of this, too, and almost always identify this as a strategy that helps them stay on track. The evidence also suggests that those who regularly monitor their health-related behaviors during the holidays are better able to manage their weight during that time, too.
Practice mindful eating.
It is very easy to eat mindlessly during the holidays. Food is everywhere! People can also be more distracted while they eat during the holidays whether it's socializing at a party or watching the game on t.v. If they eat while doing these other activities, they may not be fully engaged in the eating experience. Practicing mindful eating during the holidays essentially means that you regularly check in with your mind and body throughout the eating experience. Are you hungry? Is the food pleasing to you? Is food really what you want right now? Mindful eating helps create a more peaceful and pleasurable eating experience. It will also help you stay more in tune with your body so that you can naturally attain or maintain a healthier body weight.
So, in addition to planning which parties to attend and what gifts to give, I challenge you to also consider putting successful weight management on your holiday radar this season. Choose a life of health. You deserve it!
Photo credit: Mark Surman via Flickr