What is the secret of getting through Thanksgiving without gaining lots of weight? Wendy Hearn, a professional weight loss coach, shares practical advice on enjoying the holiday season without tipping the scales.
The great secret
What is the secret of getting through Thanksgiving without gaining lots of weight? For most people who want to lose weight, the thought of Thanksgiving fills them with dread. Yet this should be a time of great enjoyment and fun. It's a time to offer thanks, to hold family gatherings and to eat - turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie.
You may be busy organizing and cooking family meals. Undoubtedly, there will be an abundance of food available and the temptation to overeat will be high. Although Thanksgiving is only one day in the year, you probably find yourself thinking, planning and preparing for it well in advance.
I've found that this is when most people's dread of possible weight gain starts and the pressure is on. It's also the start of the whole holiday season leading up to Christmas and New Year, which stretches across almost two months.
Pleasure without pressure
There's enough pressure from others telling us we should lose weight without putting even more pressure on ourselves. You've probably heard many different rules and ways to stop overeating at this time of year. Many experts seem to say "Only eat when you're hungry", "Just walk away from the food", or "Stick to eating low calorie foods". I'm sure we would all have followed this advice, no problem. If only it was that easy!
When we try to restrict ourselves, it's difficult to maintain and when we don't manage it, we often end up with low self esteem. Most diet plans are restrictive and difficult to fit into your life. You are also expected to make so many changes at once, which for most of us isn't achievable and this sets us up to fail. When you feel that something is achievable, you will have much more success.
The permanent route to weight loss is to make changes to your attitudes, behaviour, habits and lifestyle. These changes won't happen overnight and can only be gradually incorporated into your life. Take it one step at a time.
Relax and enjoy yourself
Thanksgiving is a very special time of year and I want you to be able to really enjoy yourself. Spend time with family, socializing, relaxing -- whatever feels good for you. I suggest removing the dietary shackles from yourself. There can be so much pressure, it's overwhelming. You end up feeling stressed and not good about yourself.
Give yourself permission to suspend your diet and eat what you want. I've found that when I allow myself to eat what I want, I don't overeat anywhere near as much. Yet tell me that I can't eat something and I crave it all the more. When I succumb to that craving, inevitably I overeat by a huge amount. Don't expect yourself to have willpower because it just doesn't work.
Relax and enjoy yourself. Ask yourself "What's most important to me during this holiday?" Spending time with family? Catching up with friends? Let these important things be your focus for Thanksgiving.
Create healthful habits
Now I know it's all very well for you to read this but you're probably thinking you still want to do something to control your weight. Great! I'm not suggesting you forget your weight loss entirely. What I'm suggesting is easing the pressure and then making a step forward which feels easy for you to achieve.
Okay, let's take a look at what you can do. I suggest you select one habit to change or adopt and leave the rest for now. Which single habit are you willing to change or add this Thanksgiving? Choose what feels right for you and one you feel you can persevere with.
I encourage you to add the habit of walking for 20 minutes each day. The benefits of walking are huge and it's one habit that leaves you feeling good about yourself. Perhaps, walk alone for some peace and quiet or with family and friends.
Encourage others to take up the habit. Commit to walking each day and at the end of your Thanksgiving celebrations, you can congratulate yourself on following it through, rather than giving yourself a hard time because of the extra food you may have eaten.
What I want for you is a Thanksgiving full of fun, enjoyment and a healthy attitude to your weight.