How to Indulge, Without the Bulge, Over the Holidays

As someone whose job it is to help people lose weight (and keep it off), you might be surprised to hear that, yes, I do indulge a bit during the holidays.
Hot chocolate?  Pass me a cup.  Gingerbread?  Mmm, mmm, serve me some.  Christmas cookies?  Absolutely!
And I don’t gain weight.  “Impossible,” you say.  No, not at all.
Now that doesn’t mean I forgo eating my veggies and other healthy foods during the holidays. It just means I relax a bit don’t try to be so vigilant by following a strict regimen.  And you should do the same.
indulge-without-bulge-holidaysMy philosophy is that there’s no reason not to indulge a bit in something you (or your family) enjoy during the December holidays, provided you:   1) eat with pleasure  2)  do it in moderation and  3) get some exercise.Okay, I know.  Easier said than done, right?  That’s what I hear all of the time.  Everyone is afraid they can’t indulge as they fear they’ll lose control and eat everything in sight!  But there’s NO need to fear.  Follow my advice and you’ll learn that you can have your cake…and eat it too!
Eat With Pleasure.   Be in the moment, truly enjoy the food and take real pleasure when eating it. Studies have shown that one gets more out of a meal, not just emotionally, but also physiologically, when the food is a pleasure to eat.
In other words, when you eat with pleasure, your body absorbs more nutrients from the foods than if you ate the exact same foods but without much enjoyment.  So whether you’re eating a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate, eat it with pleasure!Moderation.  I know this a tough one for many.  You think that once you start, you won’t be able to stop.  The reason you often can’t stop is that you think of the food as “forbidden” and something that you shouldn’t be eating.  By understanding that it’s okay to eat the indulgent food, you’ll relax more and that “I must eat it all now” attitude will subside.You see, we’re genetically programmed to eat in a feast-or-famine world.  It did us good when we were hunters and gatherers, as we didn’t always know when the next meal or piece of food was going to be around.  But we live in a drastically different world today.
So just telling yourself that you can have that piece of pie anytime, the desire to devour the whole thing subsides.  Really, it does.  Once you get rid of the feast or famine mindset your body will crave it less.
Get some exercise.   We all tell ourselves we’ll exercise, and then don’t do it during our busy holiday schedule.   The best way is to plan exercise into your routine, and set a minimum time that you’ll exercise per week.  But make it something that is achievable.  And then use positive reinforcement.
For example, I’m busy this month but I still make a schedule for exercise, but I make it a lighter one…and I stick to it!
If I usually exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then for the few busy weeks of December I say I’ll exercise Tuesdays & Thursdays.  It’s only two days, and THAT I can do!  It’s not overwhelming, but it still gives me some exercise.  Hey, some is better than none!
Then after achieving it, I pat myself on the back  instead of criticizing myself for not getting enough.
What often happens is that I’m much more motivated to exercise the next time.  Having felt good for achieving something, I want to achieve it again.  It’s the role of positive reinforcement.
No matter what time of the year, there is an easy way to keep your weight under control — without an ounce of deprivation.  You can indulge, but just do it with pleasure, in moderation, and be sure to get some exercise.
Once you put your mind to it, you may be surprised by just how easy it is.
How do YOU indulge without the bulge?  What works for YOU?

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