Holi-DAYS vs. Holi-MONTHS
Short post, but important note as we approach Thanksgiving.
In my last blog post, I discussed the fact that holiday calories do count, and in the original version of my post (I have since edited it) I mentioned that:
“… Holiday overeating can un-do a lot – possibly weeks or months – of hard work.”
I took that sentence out, because the post lacked some explanation that would have contextualized that statement, as it sounds very fear-based (and I try to avoid anything fear-based!).
But now I want to chase down the finer points a little…
Let’s differentiate holiDAYS and holiMONTHS, using Thanksgiving and Christmas as the prime examples.
Holiday = November 23 and December 25, more than a month apart
Holimonth = November 20 through January 3, without stopping
Holiday overeating = the extra slice of pie, the extra helping of stuffing, and a little too much spiked cider two or three times, more than a month apart
Holimonth overeating = especially if you have kids, at least 10-15 consecutive food-centered events (includes cookies left out at the office, office parties, family events, school parties, and more) for an unbroken 6-week period
Holiday weight gain = unlikely
Holimonth weight gain = extremely likely
This is why I posit that you can enjoy beloved food traditions without restriction at holiday meals… a few times a year.
Two days of overeating – more than 30 days apart – will not undo months of hard work.
But a solid 6-week period of on-and-off overeating definitely will.
But it’s an issue that goes beyond the scale.
My main concern for clients is that taking a 6-week healthy lifestyle break until the holidays are over does more damage to habits than to weight.
“Taking off” for the holidays promotes black-and-white thinking. It creates a “good” and “bad” relationship with certain foods. Furthermore, it sets up an “I am good” and “I am bad” relationship with yourself when you eat certain foods. It puts you in an “on” or “off” setting, but you have to remember that you are not a machine.
Your habits – your toolkit full of useful and positive behaviors – can sustain you every season of the year, not just when you’re working on your summer bod. I write about this in another blog post using the analogy of “shifting gears” – when your attention for healthy lifestyle habits comes under pressure, it’s smart to focus on a few key behaviors instead of trying to continue full speed ahead. A slight reduction in intensity is easy to dial back up again, but a full stop… not so much.
Of course you can relax on a holiday and enjoy what you really love without restriction. Gatherings are about love, joy, traditions, and sharing, and food is a part of that.
…Just don’t take a holimonth of more than 6 weeks of mindless, consistent overeating with the mindset of, “I’ll get back on track in the New Year.”
It will be harder than you think! Maintaining is easier than creating, I promise!
Interested in finding out more about staying healthy over the holidays just by exercising a few days a week, and getting group support?
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