I used to own size 28 pants. They came in handy during the winter months, when the holidays gave me an excuse to stop obsessing about how I “should” be eating healthier. It was a time to just accept being fat and stop torturing myself every single day.
It was also a good time to spice up my ho-hum low-grade miserable life with daily doses of eggnog and hot cocoa spiked with delicious seasonal liqueurs galore.
Some days, finishing off a fifth of a bottle and loading up on double cheeseburgers were the only things that got me through working a job I hated — then coming home to an empty apartment.
By the time January rolled around, those size 28 pants had become my best friends when I could no longer squeeze into or zip up my standard big-girl britches.
When I started my last weight-loss journey back in 2009, it was a few months before the holiday season. I had many excuses not to follow through on my goal to lose weight, but I stuck with it (without feeling restricted).
I finally had the awareness that living healthfully didn’t mean hitting the pause button from Thanksgiving until February. But it also meant that I could have my holiday cheer — just in small doses.
Here are five ways I lost weight during the holidays (and never had to wear my fat pants again):
1. The majority of my eating stayed healthy and consistent.
While it seemed like everyone else was having peppermint mochas for breakfast every day and pie for second lunch, it didn’t mean I had to. By keeping my meals portion-controlled and nutritious roughly 80 percent of the time, I could savor the occasional pumpkin spice cake doughnut while sipping on eggnog (spiked, of course).
2. I had a rule about the treats I indulged in.
I’ve chewed and guzzled my way through innumerable holiday seasons. There’s not one traditional dish I haven’t demolished. Because I felt like I had already encountered all there was to offer in the way of seasonal favorites, I resigned myself to saving my indulgences for foods I had never tried before (both healthy and unhealthy). That choice made it much easier to say, “No, thank you” to the same old chocolate chip cookies offered around the workplace.
3. I gave up baking.
I loved baking, but after years of whipping up goodies for friends and co-workers (but mostly for myself), it had to come to an end. Losing weight and getting healthier meant more to me than the temptation to bake up a batch of late-night brownies when I was bored and desperate for something sweet. Specialty bakery shops exist for a reason.
4. I kept holiday meals simple.
Not every holiday gathering needs to be a 15-course feast. Just as I was picky with the baked yummies I indulged in, I was also satisfied with fewer food options at family dinner gatherings. Like many things in life, less is more.
With fewer food options on my plate, I was able to engage my senses in enjoying my food without wondering about the food I was missing out on (because I couldn’t fit it on my plate).
5. I worked out every morning.
Despite what you may think, I didn’t bust my butt doing high-intensity cardio every morning. In fact, I was injured and couldn’t even run. It was during the winter months of 2009 that I first experienced crippling shin splints from pushing too soon into trying to become a runner after being physically inactive my entire life.
My focus redirected when I went to the gym every morning. Instead of hitting up the treadmill, I sweated it out on a recumbent bike and got stronger with weight lifting.
Admittedly, not every workout felt amazing, but regularly showing up made the difference. Morning workouts also improved my energy during the day, so I didn’t feel like giving into Christmas candies for a quick fix in the afternoons.
Are you trying to stay healthy this holiday season? How are you making it happen?
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