How to Get Through the Holidays
Tips for surviving the holidays without sacrificing your weight-loss goals.
Identify Difficult Situations
One of the best outcomes of a calorie chat group is identifying the
situations that cause you to overindulge. Barbara Bohner, a 55-year-old
elementary-school guidance counselor, who has worked with Bartlett since last
December, has her own trick for getting through parties: "I eat raw vegetables
or a piece of fruit before I go out, so I have something in my stomach. I don't
drink any alcohol; instead, I try to hold a glass of sparkling water, so I feel
like I'm doing something with my hands. And I try to talk more than I eat.
Avoiding alcohol also appeals to Martha Barchowsky, a 43-year-old
businesswoman who has lost more than 100 pounds working with Bartlett. "Last
year I had a New Year's Eve party; I served everyone champagne to toast the
holiday, but I had sparkling water in my champagne flute. It's not the
champagne that matters; the real deal is that you're celebrating with your good
What if you've identified your red flags, but you don't heed them? Bohner
uses a quick test to put things in perspective. "I use a scale of zero to 10,
with zero being starving and 10 really stuffed. I write down how I felt when I
started eating and when I finished." When she goes over seven, she knows she
was eating to meet emotional needs rather than actual hunger. "There's no
reason to eat until you're stuffed," she adds.
Whatever method you choose, it's best to take stock and be honest with
yourself. If your goal is to exercise three times a week, how many sessions do
you miss before you admit you are slipping? Going to an event without a plan is
also a signal that you're not focusing on your eating.
Besides the red flags, it's important to understand other, more subtle
tricks you use to justify an overindulgence. "We all tell ourselves stories
that are the same, time after time, like 'if I overeat Friday or Saturday, I'll
be extra good Monday morning,'" Bartlett says. "Other familiar half-truths are:
'I've eaten an extra thousand calories so I'll do an extra session at the gym,'
or 'I'll eat what I want tonight and worry about it tomorrow.'"
Still, lapses are inevitable no matter how well prepared you are. And when
you slip, you become vulnerable to a common pitfall — abandoning your entire
plan until after the holidays because you made one mistake. It's far better to
forgive yourself and move on. "Recognize what's going on, stop it and get back
on track quickly," says Bartlett. "I tell people to put things in perspective
and remind them that overeating on one occasion is not what causes weight gain;
it's consistently eating too much."