Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Holiday Rule - and 5 ways I use it to keep the winter weight at bay

It's getting cold outside and that can only mean one thing...comfort food!  The number of unexpected encounters with food has been inching up lately and that's got me to thinking about my eating/food plan for the holidays.  My current plan is this: When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  What?!  "What kind of plan is that", you ask.  Easy.  There are only a handful of holidays.  Because, by "holiday", I mean the actual, post-office-is-closed, family comes over, holiday.  That would be Halloween (optional, depending on how strongly you feel about celebrating), Thanksgiving, Christmas (or insert other winter holiday here), maybe New Years Eve (unless you're like me and it stopped mattering years ago) and..well, that's sort of it.

Sure, there are other holidays throughout the year, but it's the winter holidays that really get us.  I think it's this mixture of cold weather, family, parties (as in, alcohol), and good food that can undermine our best intentions.  The power of the winter holidays to tempt us is why I came up with my food plan, "The Holiday Rule."  Yes, I actually call it that.  And I already told you all you need to know to follow my plan.  When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  On that one day.  So, how does the holiday rule help me get through the holidays without gaining weight?  Here's how I use it to keep my momentum up.

1.  I get to enjoy the holidays, feel like I am indulging just like everyone else, without guilt.  Because I plan to eat whatever I want on that day, I don't feel regretful about it.  Not even a little bit. In fact I sort of rejoice.  My day has come, I can relax, indulge, not worry or judge, or do any of the other food related craziness I might ordinarily do in the midst of all that food.

2.  I got this tip from a friend - I remind myself that my body does not know it's "the holidays".  If I eat a warm sticky bun for a snack it will still be 425 calories, and we all know the effect that will have on the body. The fact that it's December and cold outside doesn't change that.  

3.  I sometimes compare what I'm tempted by to the food I will eat on the holiday.  Now this is a tricky one that must be used sparingly because, well, I don't want to spend too much time daydreaming about food.  In any case, what I do is look at the tempting food and ask myself if it's as good as the food I'll have on, for example, Christmas.  Usually not.  It might be good, but it can't compare to my mom's cheesy egg souffle she always makes for breakfast.  Or Gulliver's corn.  Nope, this isn't special, it's just store bought cookies.  Move along Michelle. 

4.  Aside from the actual holidays there are other times when I might indulge a little (though not a full no-restrictions holiday day).  Some examples are the work holiday party, a friend's holiday party, my kid's holiday party...are you seeing a pattern here?  A party.  So at other times, like when I run into a pile of chocolate dipped biscotti at the office, I ask myself, "Is this a party?"  No, it's not a party.  I am not indulging just because it's Tuesday and there are biscotti.  "This isn't a celebration, there's no reason to indulge", blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

5.  When I am tempted by food on days other than the holiday, let's say a pumpkin pie turns up at my kids playgroup, I can remind myself that my time to indulge will come, it's just not today.  This reassures me that I'm not deprived, that I'm not going to miss out on pumpkin pie for the rest of all time, but that it's just not happening today.

I used this approach when I was on Weight Watchers too.  I would just count the day as having used up all my daily points and left it at that.  And you know what?  I kept losing weight.  The holiday plan works for me!  Everyone has a different approach to how to deal with the increase in temptation around the holidays, I think the point is that we have some kind of approach, that we prepare ourselves. 

Ok, that's it for me.  Wait, how can I not triathlon is in 2 days!!! I'm getting SO excited!  Next time I post might be a race report.  Unless I get ambitious and blog again before then. 


  1. Most important point here: the "no guilt" it means you can do it - without feeling bad! And then move on, great points. ENJOY YOUR TRIATHLON!!!!!

  2. Michelle, you are inspiring me once again. Love the holiday rule. But what really prompted me to comment was a)Gulliver's corn - OMG!!!! Have not had that in over 20 years!!! Awesome!!! And b) on Google reader you blog comes up Diary of an Aspirin and I always wonder who writes about aspirin :)

  3. I LOVE your holiday plan. It make so much more sense than making (or insisting that others eat) low-fat mashed potatoes, (whatever).

    Congrats again on your Tri today (yes, I'm a few days behind in blog reading)

  4. Good luck with that crazy Triathlon. OMG! Love the shirt :)


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