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Don't Let the Holiday Blues Derail Your Diet

Keep your good cheer (and your weight-loss plan) intact
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Ready or not, the holidays are here.

For many people, especially those trying to lose weight, it's not an easy time. High expectations of holiday happiness can give way to loneliness, sadness -- and greater vulnerability to the temptations that are everywhere this time of year.

But take heart: If you're prone to holiday blues, there are steps you can take to keep your good cheer (and your diet) intact -- without taking solace in fattening comfort foods.

Ready or not, the holidays are here.

For many people, especially those trying to lose weight, it's not an easy time. High expectations of holiday happiness can give way to loneliness, sadness -- and greater vulnerability to the temptations that are everywhere this time of year.

But take heart: If you're prone to holiday blues, there are steps you can take to keep your good cheer (and your diet) intact -- without taking solace in fattening comfort foods.

Adjust Your Attitude

"People who are successful at anything -- whether it's their career, raising kids, or dieting -- come up with a 'lens' they want to view it through," says John Eliot, PhD, a professor of psychology and business at Rice University in Houston, and author of Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance. It's all about attitude, says Eliot. Tell yourself it's difficult to stick to your healthy eating plan during the holidays, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

"You have set yourself up," he tells WebMD. "The same thing happens in golf. If you focus on not hitting the ball in the lake, nine times out of 10 it goes in the lake."

That's because, in your thoughts, your brain doesn't "hear" the word no, Eliot says.

"The brain operates on data associated with very strong emotions, feelings, and pictures," he says. "If you charge the brain with emotions and visuals, the brain will key into those and produce them. In golf, the vision of the lake is a very emotional picture. But with that picture, what you've done is program your brain to get the ball into the lake."

Likewise, your mind governs weight loss -- even how well you survive the holiday blues.

To set yourself up for success, look inside, he says.

"Look at what you want to accomplish, and ask yourself, 'Why is it important to eat moderately?'" Eliot says. "If the answer is 'So someone will say you look great,' that's external motivation. That won't work in the long term.

"Internal motivators are things like feeling good about yourself, having more energy, and being able to run. It's about how you want to feel every day."

Take Charge

When you're feeling sorry for yourself, do something about it, says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a clinical psychologist and spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association.

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