Ward off holiday weight gain: Handling stress with discipline and gratitude

The holidays are supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year. Positive emotions like happiness, love, and high spirits abound this season, as do glorious lights, music, decorations, festivities and food.

However, pitfalls like weight gain and negative emotions of all kinds can increase, and these include feelings like anxiety, guilt, grief and stress.

If we are trying to avoid the very common issue of weight gain over this festive season, we must reduce our stress levels.

When you find yourself getting caught up in anxious thoughts about how you will, with efficiency and enviable style, get everything accomplished this holiday season and manage to accept every invitation without having a persistent headache or unbuttoned waistband, remember that the beauty of the season lies in spending time with people we care about, giving of ourselves, and feeling healthy and happy.

The holidays ARE meant to be enjoyed, but somehow along the way we give our hard working, ambitious, caring, savvy selves the go-ahead to treat ourselves on every whim, undoing all of our hard work, eating everything in sight, because we feel we deserve it. We throw caution and care into the Christmas breeze.

What we really deserve, perhaps, is not the sugary instantly-gratifying nugget in the break room, but rather instead to feel strong, lean, empowered, sexy and full of vitality. Honoring our true selves (making good decisions) is what will bring about our happiness, radiated to our loved ones around us. 


What a gift that is!

If we feel guilty, stressed, anxious, depressed, stuffed, drained, lethargic and financially strapped from all the entertaining commitments, we can’t feel happy.

There are ways to truly enjoy all this great holiday has to offer without starting 2015 off feeling like you want a holiday do-over.

Be disciplined, be choosy, be passionate

The little (but really big) things like getting more sleep, more exercise, drinking more water, really do help us combat the extra pounds. They assist in our body’s assimilation of food and stress, and can regulate hormones and blood sugar etc.

But straightforward diet plans can work too. There are many effective practical plans in place that can help us not only maintain our weight, but actually lose weight and live healthier this holiday and beyond. Try a few out for yourself. They can make us more conscious about what and how and when we eat, and ultimately keep our weight, and cheerful holiday mood, in check.

A few popular ones that reduce or eliminate certain foods or meal times include intermittent fasting, vegan, gluten-free, and Paleo. Pick a weekend, pick a party, and try a new one. This way to eat may not only help you reduce your unhealthy caloric intake, but it may also resonate with you, and help you kick off the New Year motivated and raring to re-stock your pantry.

When we are inevitably challenged to make great eating choices this holiday, let’s at least make them with passion. Don’t just go through the buffet line grabbing any little average morsel – hold out for the good stuff! Make that taste worth the extra workouts! One thing is for sure, if we don’t add extra workouts, drink more water, get more sleep, we WILL gain weight by 2015.

The little nibbles and tastes – one bite here and a few sips there – they add up. So just stay out of the break room, look away from the baked goods in the check out aisle, show up late to happy hour, and save your calories for something amazing you really have your heart set on. I am holding out for a few homemade perogies and pumpkin pie.


Let’s be grateful

Giving thanks, appreciating our meals, our friends, our freedom to celebrate, can all contribute to our weight success and happiness.

Swapping food is another popular way to ward off the holiday pounds, kilos or stones (whatever your preferred measurement type). Swap salsa for sour cream, soda water for coke, and so on. But we can also make simple swaps to our mindset. “I don’t know how I will make it through another company lunch.” Try instead, “Boy, I am one lucky elf to have so many co-workers, or friends and family members, that are fun, kind, outgoing and love to celebrate the holidays.

There are so many beautiful plates of food, so many glasses being filled…I feel grateful that I have the strength to say, ‘No thank you’.”

So save an hour after work today and before the party tonight, head out on a long, deliberate beach walk. Say this out loud: “Whatever I CHOOSE to eat or drink tonight, whatever stresses I feel, may it nourish my body, help me feel grateful, and let my body and mind simply discard  the rest.”

Hey, what have we got to lose?

Story by: Jen Bily, trainer at Life Extension Sports and Fitness