With the holiday season well underway and the big day just around the corner, you may be wondering how you’re going to make it to the New Year without piling on the pounds. As a Weight Watchers member for 13 years, I’ve had a range of experiences during the festive season. My post Christmas results have always reflected the approach I’ve taken and my actions during the holidays.
Like many people, my Weight Watchers journey began in the month of January, I seized the New Year spirit and resolved to lose weight. By the time I encountered my first Christmas as a member I had reached 54 pounds weight loss and felt pretty good about myself. At this point, my view of Christmas was a no holds barred 2 weeks break from thinking, pointing or tracking anything I ate and drank. To me this meant I was free to indulge or should I say over-indulge.
My festive treats actually began in October when the supermarkets began running the promotion on tubs of chocolates. What a bargain, a whole tub of my favourite chocolates for £4, I bought two tubs. But despite being placed safely in a cupboard to be saved for December, those chocolates didn’t see the end of November as the “I’ll just have a couple” phrase became one of my daily sayings.
After getting caught in that trap for 3 years in a row, I finally learned that if I don’t want to eat a tub of chocolate then I don’t need to buy promotional tubs of chocolate in October. Now I just don’t buy them at all. My children get an individual chocolate selection box, which is more than enough for them. As for myself, I buy a chocolate advent calendar, which gives me manageable individual pieces to enjoy one a day.
In reality Christmas is a season rather than a day. Like all events and occasions, it requires some thought and planning. All the tools and strategies learnt during the year become very useful at Christmas time. I know what my danger zones are so I mentally prepare myself if I don’t want to indulge at that time or simply have a little less than I would if I wasn’t thinking about it. I also make sure that I stock up on my favourite healthier snacks so that I’ve got an alternative to reaching for whatever goodies are on the dining room table.
One strategy I particularly like is to make a personal decision about what type of season you want to have…..to maintain the loss you’ve already made, to register a loss at the scales after Christmas or to be comfortable with a weight gain.
After my first Christmas as a Weight Watcher, I gained a whopping 9 pounds in the 2 weeks between weigh-ins. It took me a full 6 weeks to lose those pounds and get back to my pre-Christmas weight. The following Christmas my weight gain was 5 pounds, which took 2 weeks to get off and my third Christmas registered a 2.5 pounds weight gain. As I believe, ‘when you know better, you can do better’.
The difference over the years has been the experience and knowledge I gained not just about making better choices but more importantly about myself, what I wanted and what works for me. I’ve always tried not to beat myself up about not sticking to my best intentions and plans, I try to use so called ‘failures’ as learning experiences and move forward.
For many years I’d heard about people who can lose weight over the Christmas period. I thought it was a myth and wondered what kind of people they could be, until it happened to me! Two years ago, I made a firm decision that I wanted to maintain my weight. I continued to plan and track my meals in the run up to Christmas Day. I decided not to track my food & drink on Christmas Day itself and Boxing Day and to resume planning/tracking on the 27th December. I also planned in some exercise for the days that I would be at home, all in an effort to balance Christmas indulgence and healthy lifestyle. The result was a surprising 0.5 pound weight loss! This may not sound like anything to shout about but I was absolutely delighted. It opened my mind to what is possible and what I am truly capable of achieving.
Now this Christmas, I find myself in a good place – at my goal weight. The introduction of the Weight Watchers Flex/Freestyle programme with the emphasis on including more high protein/fibre foods with meals, suits my tastes and lifestyle. I will again be keeping my meals healthy during Christmas week, making sensible choices when attending functions and indulging on my favourite festive eats & treats on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I’ll be twirling my hula hoop to some Christmas tunes and probably racking up some Fitbit steps in the January sales.
So how will you approach your festive season? Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. After all ‘tis the season to be jolly! Have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.