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Start Now!

Most of us seem to be in the no-man’s land between the winter holidays and the New Year. If your eating has been off track, it may seem appealing to let yourself off the hook until January and decide to “worry about it then.” We don’t agree! We think there are actually lots of reasons to start working on healthy eating right this moment!Ice cream servings

  1. Deciding to wait until January to start working on healthy eating doesn’t start your year off on a strong foot. Wouldn’t it be so great if, instead of needing to make major chances in January, you’ve already started making them? You won’t start the new year with a list of things you need to change. Instead, you can start it with a list of things you want to keep doing.
  2. Why wait to start feeling better? While it’s easy to buy into the notion that you “won’t worry about it” until January, is that really the case? Are you really not worrying about your eating at all? Or, more likely, are you spending time and mental energy not feeling good about your choices? Are you ever regretting eating something or regretting overeating and feeling too full? Worried about how much more weight you may gain and what you’ll see when you next step on the scale? Are you worried about your clothes fitting or your winter jacket zipping? Chances are, you’re spending some negative mental energy thinking about your eating. Instead, channel that energy into working on making healthy choices, and you’ll get nothing but benefits! You’re going to expend the mental energy no matter what, but only one way comes with positive consequences.
  3. Prove to yourself that you don’t need to wait for some artificial deadline (e.g., I’ll start on Monday, I’ll start next month, I’ll start next year) to start working on healthy eating and feeling good about your choices. Prove to yourself that you can start today, whatever day it is. Chances are that by the time you go to bed tonight, you’ll be feeling at least a little bit better than you may be feeling right now. We’ve found that having just one, two, or three good eating days under one’s belt makes them feel immensely better than feeling off track and out of control of their eating. Feeling good is only a few days away – you can do it, and it’s worth it!

The Holidays

While some aspects of the holiday season are easier to manage this year (no office kitchens stocked to the brim with holiday goodies, no parties or get-togethers, no out-of-town trips), there are still very difficult challenges. I’ve been discussing some of them with my clients over the past few weeks.

My client Rachel found that she was overbuying holiday treats for her kids in an effort to make the holidays feel special. Even though she didn’t have to contend with an office breakroom full of temptations, however, she just moved that hot zone into her own house and sabotaged herself. When we looked at the situation objectively, Rachel was able to realize that loading up on sugary treats wasn’t good for anyone in her household – not her kids, not her husband, and certainly not herself. Rachel and I made a list of new holiday traditions she and her family could institute this year that had nothing to do with eating and would enable them to celebrate safely.Vacation Plan 2

My client Lisa got off track during the beginning of the pandemic and ended up gaining about 20 pounds back from the 60 she had lost. Lisa doesn’t live close to her parents or her sister, and she said that not seeing them this holiday season made it harder for her to get back on track and lose the weight she had gained. In the past, knowing they were going to see that she had gained weight back would have been a huge incentive for her to get refocused. Lisa and I discussed that, at some point, she will be able to safely travel again. Lisa made the following Response Card to help her get back on track:

Even though I’m not seeing my family this year, at some point I will see them again. If I keep going down this off-track path, I’ll gain even more weight than I have now. Getting back on track right now is worth it because not only will it help me lose the weight I’ve regained, but I’ll feel better about myself and more in control. I need to do this for myself, not for them.

My client Jason was feeling disappointed that the holidays weren’t going to look “normal” this year, and he was overeating to help him cope. With many feeling deprived of many of their usual pleasures (dinners out, movies, museums, trips, coffee dates, etc.), it makes sense that these feelings would be more acute during the holidays. Jason and I discussed that since he wasn’t going to get joy from many typical holiday sources – most notably time with family and friends – he had to be very deliberate about finding joy in other ways to avoid turning to food to fill that need. Jason made a Response Card to help remind him of that:

Even though the holidays will look different this year, there are still things that bring me joy. I have to be intentional about filling that need, or it will come out through overeating. Overeating to bring myself joy is a trick, not a treat, because it makes me feel out of control and jeopardizes my hugely important weight loss goals.

Thanksgiving Night: How Do You Want to Feel?

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, dieters should begin to think about how they’ll handle their eating on that day. While Thanksgiving is considered by many to be a day in which it’s just too difficult to control their eating, it doesn’t have to be that way. When we help dieters formulate their Thanksgiving plan, we always ask them to think about one important thing: How do you want to feel going to bed once Thanksgiving is over?

Asking dieters this question reminds them that the experience of Thanksgiving is not limited to the time when they’re eating with family and friends. The experience also extends to how they feel afterwards. Dieters often have sabotaging thoughts such as, “If I have to limit how much I eat, I just won’t be able to enjoy myself.” If they then overeat, they may wind up feeling sick both People eating Thanksgiving dinnerphysically and psychologically: physically because they consumed way too much food, and psychologically because they feel out of control and guilty for overeating.

When we ask dieters how they want to feel once Thanksgiving is over, they usually say something along the lines of, “I want to feel full and satisfied and I also want to feel good about myself.”  We then ask, ”Will getting off track and overeating on Thanksgiving lead you to feeling that way?” Because the answer is no, we suggest coming up with a plan that will make them feel good. It makes sense to dieters that they simply can’t have it both ways: They can’t overeat during Thanksgiving and still wind up feeling proud and in control – these are incompatible goals.

We remind dieters that it’s not all-or-nothing – it’s not as if they can eat every bite of food that they want or they can’t eat any food that they want. In fact, there is a huge middle ground between these two extremes. While it’s true that they may not be able to eat as much of everything they want and still go to bed feeling good that night, it’s also true that they can eat reasonable portions, enjoy every bite that they take, and feel really good.