In a word – yes. I have lost weight during the Christmas holidays before, so I am sure you can, too. Here are some tips to help you succeed in your weight loss efforts.
1. Change your thinking. You will only lose weight over the holidays if you know that it is possible and that you can do it. Weight loss at any time requires the same skills and techniques. Admittedly, the holiday parties and Christmas cheer will make it more difficult. Spend some time developing affirmations and a mantra to remind you of your goals. Affirmations may include: “I make good food choices throughout the day” or “I use food as fuel for my brain and body”. A good mantra for the holidays might be “I am in control” or “Food is fuel”.
2. Commit to a plan and do it daily. Chances are you already know what has worked for you in the past and what simply does not work. Learn from your history. Stick with what works. If you need to eat less carbs and more protein, go with that. Some people eat three meals and nothing in between, and others eat every two hours. Once you know what works, develop rituals to keep it going. Use timers, alarms and reminders on your phone and computer to cue you when it is time to eat or take a five minute walk around the building and up/down a flight of stairs.
3. Write down what you eat – every bite. It is easy to underestimate how many calories/carbs/fat grams we take in daily. The best way to keep it clean is document everything that you put in your mouth. There are great, free online sites that track food and water intake and activity time. Most of these also have phone apps, so there has never been a time when it was easier to track your progress. Check out sparkpeople.com for a comprehensive site to help you stay on track.
4. Prepare ahead of time. The highest risk times for blowing a diet are when we are hungry, tired, lonely or experiencing strong emotions. Planning and preparation are all about avoiding those times. One of the popular weight loss programs coined the phrase ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. As it turns out, that is absolutely correct when it comes to dieting and weight loss – especially during the holidays.
If you will develop daily, weekly and monthly rituals to help you stay on your plan, you are more likely to find long term success. Each weekend, develop menus for the upcoming week. From the menus, write out your grocery list. Plan a regular shopping day so that you have everything you need on hand for meals and healthy snacks.
Many people find that shopping on the weekend gives them time to prepare snacks and do some of the prep work for the weekly meals. Others cook a few meals on the weekend and freeze them so they don’t have to cook in the evening. Perhaps you can chop veggies ahead of time for meals and snacks, or pack one ounce servings of almonds or other healthy foods to take to work. You may want to pack your lunch and snacks, schedule specific intervals to eat and build in 30 minutes of movement each day. This kind of planning and preparation equates to successful dieting.
5. Eat something healthy before parties and meals out. Parties and those dreaded cookies and pastries at work can be one of the biggest struggles for dieters during the holidays. If you go to a party, eat a full healthy meal before you go. This will help you feel less hungry and hopefully feel satisfied enough that you can resist overeating. Stay away from the food and dessert tables at parties.
Get a glass of something to drink when you arrive and a small serving of the least damaging food you can find. Perhaps you can have nuts instead of cookies. If there is a veggie tray, try to get more veggies and less bad-for-you foods.
You might decide to eat less calories (fill up on veggies and salad or something low calorie ) earlier In the day and allow yourself to indulge. This is doable as long as you eat in moderation at the party and keep your calorie intake near the normal range for the day. Remember to count calories from alcoholic and other beverages.
6. Find other ways to manage your stress and anxiety. If you find parties and holidays stressful, find a healthy outlet for your stress. Stress eating will ruin your diet, so find other ways to cope. See a therapist to help you with this if necessary. Exercise is one of the best remedies, and it is diet-friendly!
7. Develop substitutes for foods that are traditional favorites at holiday meals. One of the most important ways to succeed on your diet during the holidays is to avoid feeling deprived. The best way to do this is find food substitutes for your favorite foods. The year I managed to lose weight over the Christmas holiday, I was eating a low carb diet. I bought and prepared a yummy low carb dessert and rolls so that I would not feel deprived. I ate the foods that were on the diet and substituted these where necessary. It worked – I was not miserable and I lost weight.
8. Be flexible. One of the popular commercial weight loss programs has realized that flexibility is the key to long term success when dieting. They allow members to use their daily allotment of calories (aka points) as they wish, and even give them extra points/calories to use for special occasions each week. Consider ‘saving’ your calories from earlier in the day or the week to eat more calories for Christmas dinner.
Some people advocate taking 1 day or 1 meal off from your diet for special occasions. This can be risky for some, depending on what diet you are following. Don’t risk it if the costs are too high. If you take a day or meal off, be prepared to get back on the wagon immediately. Just be aware that introducing specific foods that you have been avoiding may cause cravings.
Use this option only if you are certain that you can get right back on the diet at the next meal or following day. Those with food allergies or sensitivities should not consider this option.
Lamm, Brad. "Get Clean and Lean." Heal Your Life, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
Rushforth, Carolina. "15 Affirmations That Will Help You Lose Weight." MindBodyGreen, Web. 04 Dec. 2013.