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Article Archive >> Good Health

How To Nix Holiday Weight Gain

by Jeanne Rhodes


Question:

I struggle every year though the holidays trying not to gain weight. But every year I fail. Any suggestions?

Answer:

Realize that this is a very common problem. The average American gains 10 pounds from November through January. This does not have to be your story.

First, let’s take a look at the most common examples of self-defeating thinking and behavior. The manipulative diet industry works hard to convince us that a “quick fix” is not just an illusion. We grab for the illusion, thinking that we can go on a diet, lose weight and then resume all our old bad habits. We invariably miss the critical point - weight management is a lifestyle challenge and can’t be achieved without permanent changes - who wants to hear that? There’s no magic cure? You can’t do it fast? Sometimes the truth hurts, but with weight control the expressway is only another detour! To keep weight off you truly do have to change your lifestyle. So, we need to face the truth and gear up for the contest if we’re going to stay on the winning track.

Second, we may have the best intentions, do all the right things and then trip ourselves up with faulty diet mentality, “I’m not losing weight fast enough!” Why does this happen? Everyday we read all the ads that say we’re not losing fast enough, “lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks,” or “drop 10 pounds this week - guaranteed!” We’re constantly being brainwashed to expect rapid results and we get discouraged when we don’t see the weight plummet like a boulder off a cliff. We need to re-focus - take our eyes off the manipulative diet industry’s messages and look to those from professionals - The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, etc. - who are consistent in their advice that a gradual loss (one or two pounds a week at the most) is more likely to be permanent.

Third, we don’t exercise or if we do, we do very little. We give in to all the excuses like, “I don’t have the time”; or “I get enough exercise on my job”; or “I have this back, knee, hip (fill in your own) problem and can’t exercise.” Research repeatedly and consistently shows that exercise is the key to weight management success. An on-going, government-funded research on people who have lost weight and kept it off shows that every one of these people exercise 7 days a week. Exercise is, without question, the best thing we can do for ourselves both physically and mentally. It’s the modern panacea. Without it, our weight loss attempts fail.

Last, but not least - we often don’t get our emotional house in order - “we live to eat!” We need to be ready to turn that around - “we eat to live.” Emotionally we need to be ready to maximize our chances of success. The following are a few things to check out your emotional “readiness” for a lifestyle change so that you will not have to make the same resolutions all over again next year:

1. Arrange your life to accommodate new, healthy habits.
2. Do it for you and nobody else.
3. Find a support network - an individualized lifestyle program, etc.
4. Focus on health instead of weight as your measure of success.
5. Work on stress management skills.
6. Concentrate on making permanent, comfortable changes that fit your current lifestyle.
7. Set step-by-step goals. Get out a “too-small” pair of jeans and try them on once a week to ascertain progress rather than pounds on the scales.
8. Make daily sweaty exercise a top priority. Remember, you don’t have to “want to,” just do it.
9. Identify negative diet “head talk” and try to switch to anything you can that is unrelated.
10. Always, always reward your efforts and celebrate your victories. You may want to record these in a personal journal.

And have a healthy
holiday season!

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author, and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.

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