Get out the elastic waist bands and over-sized tee-shirts… Thanksgiving, and all of the delicious comfort food that surround this holiday, is coming to a dinner table near you. It is really the holiday that begins the chain reaction of weight gain and lack of physical fitness that so many American’s seem to fall victim to this time of year. Cold weather does not motivate me to workout… it motivates me to put on fuzzy socks and a snuggie so I can watch holiday movies on the reclining couch while noshing on caramel popcorn and drinking spiced warm wine. I am not motivated to eat kale and cantaloupe… not when there is pumpkin pie and ham around every corner. This time of year is a daily struggle to make healthy food choices and to get up off that couch!
Many military families will be traveling this holiday season. Travel by plane, train or automobile alike all present challenges. And then, we get to our destination. Perhaps we have been living in a place far, far away from all of the foods we miss from our hometown. It is tempting to shove as much of our favorite tastes from home into our bellies while we can… who knows when we will eat at that special BBQ joint again, right? Even for those of us who are not traveling… we are probably trying to make the best of being away from our hometowns by hosting or attending many holiday parties… centered around the consumption of food and spirits.
While the holidays can be a time of cheer and celebration, for many people it can be a time of sadness, stress or isolation. Military families might find that this is the case if they are far from extended family, or if a family member is deployed. For many people, this can just make it even harder to eat healthy or exercise. They may self-medicate with food or alcohol… and stress and depression can really hinder the motivation to exercise.
So how do we avoid the holiday bulge so that we are not emerging from a couch coma on January 1st? I am far from a health and fitness expert, although I have made great strides in tackling my own issues this year. (Fat Girl at the Gym) This will be my first holiday season since really committing to improving my health… so I will have to report to you how it all went down after the start of 2014. BUT I do know, from years and years of experience in this department, how you CAN gain weight during the holidays. I know how to fall on my face in the fitness department and end up wearing those sweats until February when I finally give in and buy pants one size bigger. I KNOW everything NOT to do. And sometimes, that knowledge can be pretty powerful. At the very least it will give us a few laughs. And I hear that laughing is a great stress release… probably better than reaching for that second slice of your mother’s famous red velvet cake. With cream cheese icing. And pecans. Yum.
5 Ways to Gain 50 Pounds over the Holidays
5) Have absolutely no plan.
If you are traveling, pack no healthy snack options whatsoever. That way you get to eat whatever fast food you can grab when your flight is late, or a hotdog and Cheetos from the only gas station on your driving route for 200 miles. Before attending holiday parties, make sure to be ill-prepared by starving yourself all day so you stuff yourself with the entire crock-pot full of those delicious meatballs your neighbor always makes. When grocery shopping do not make a list, and make sure you haven’t eaten beforehand so that you fill your cart with all those iced cookies, cheese platters, and pans of lasagna that are on sale.
4) Over-commit yourself.
Volunteer for every single holiday project at your kid’s school. Make sure you organize all of the food drives, toy drives, and fundraisers in your community. Host a party for every friend who has a home-based sales business. Agree to watch every neighbor’s goldfish while they travel. Go to Pinterest and find 498 crafts to do with your children over break. Decorate every inch of your home so it could be featured in a magazine. Make all of your gifts by hand. Send out 540 Christmas cards. Sure, you will be stressed out and have zero time to take care of yourself, or find an hour for exercise, or prepare a healthy meal… but it is worth it. After all, we know that our families only have great holiday experiences if we do things to perfection.
3) Take a well-deserved break from physical activity.
When you are consuming large quantities of comfort food, make sure to do as little physical activity as possible. Don’t take the family for a walk after a meal and, whatever you do, don’t fit a workout into your busy schedule of noshing on desserts. Muscles and joints need to rest… preferably while being overloaded with calories. After the holiday is over, you squeeze yourself into your fitness clothing that was obviously shrunk in the dryer, and you emerge from your tryptophan coma and waddle back into the gym… you will be performing at the exact same level you did before you enjoyed a five day marathon of cheesy holiday movies on Lifetime.
2) Saying ‘no’ is just rude… bless your heart.
If you are visiting family and they cook a spread of all your favorites, you are obligated to eat every single bite they offer… no matter how tight your sweatpants get. Furthermore, if you are invited to a party, you must also partake of every decadent Pinterest recipe served. Making smart food decisions based on what is best for your health is, frankly, just not good manners. Those of us from the South know this to be true. In fact, deny yourself that third helping of creamed potatoes someone plopped down on your plate… and you just might find yourself out of the will, or banned from all Bunco parties in the future.
1) Who are you to think you deserve to be healthy?
Look, if Santa can continue to give hope to nations full of boys and girls, year after year at his plump and jolly self… then what in the world makes you think you are any better? All this nonsense about living longer and being able to enjoy life is really selfish, don’t you think? Besides, more than half of all Americans are now considered overweight… and half of all Americans can’t be wrong, right? Who do you think you are, wanting to fit into a smaller size? Who do you think you are for wanting to have more energy? Who do you think you are for wanting to set a good example for your children so they don’t have to wage their own weight-war when they are adults? Listen… being overweight and out of shape just seems to be the trend. Jump on board… you wouldn’t want to motivate those around you to take charge of their health, would you?
Here is hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday season! May you enjoy a few bites but not the whole pie, may you focus more on the people than the plates, and may you find yourself full of pride instead of regret on January 1st!
To follow Erin on her journey of health and fitness, read her personal blog www.fatgirlempowered.wordpress.com