By Lisa Rhea
The Beastie Boys called it when it comes to eating right over the holiday season. Forget health and wellness, ’tis the season of overindulgence and pressure to binge in rich, fatty foods alongside your fellow man. Everywhere you turn, there are chocolates, cookies, candy canes and caramel corn, and that’s just in the work lobby. It’s a sabotage, I tell ya.
Imagine how much easier it would be to keep the weight off if everywhere we went this holiday season, there were fruit and veggie trays, healthy entrees and small, low-calorie desserts? Wouldn’t those family engagements be more pleasant for your waistline if your Auntie was asking why you hadn’t eaten more of her cucumber slices instead of pushing her sausage stuffed mushrooms on you?
Peer pressure can be a sonofabitch for your weight loss goals, and this time of year is pretty much the pinnacle of food shaming for those who try to watch what they eat.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you attend the season’s jubilees that will help you maintain your sanity, stick to your goals, and avoid snapping at those pushing the food.
You CAN Indulge
Yep. You can eat all the garbage you want. There’s nothing saying you have to stick to your usual healthy habits, or if you’re trying to make a change, there’s nothing saying you can’t go back to your unhealthy habits for the next month. It just depends on what YOU want for you. Will a little bit of weight gain bother you? Can you handle having to go back into your fat pants or sticking to a stretchy pant wardrobe (hooray for leggings being in style!) or do you WANT to stay true to your healthy way of life? When the pressure starts coming, it’s your call how you want to respond.
I remember being at a work function this past summer. I had packed my food because I was really trying to reach my goals, and I knew they never ordered healthy options for the corporate lunch. I ate my meal while the others ate barbecue and didn’t mind one bit. My goals were more important than fitting in, and frankly I don’t even like barbecue very much. I received some flack and brushed it off. But it completely cracked me up when one of my less-than-svelte coworkers shoved a candy bar in her mouth in front of me in a petty attempt to make me jealous “Oh, that’s right, you can’t have these,” she said just before cramming the food in her face. I just smirked in response, while thinking – “no, I can have as many as I want. I CHOOSE not to. And frankly, not sure what you’re selling there, honey.”
So just remember, as the goodies are passed around and pushed on you, there’s nothing saying you can’t have some. You can probably find a way to work some of it into whatever healthy eating plan you’re following. You have a choice and nothing is off limits. The only thing that will bring you more negative attention than passing on the meatballs is announcing to everyone that you can’t eat them because they aren’t on your diet.
You choose your own goals, and therefore you also choose how to prioritize the things in your life that either take you closer to them or farther away from them. It’s all a choice.
Misery Loves Company
Why all the pressure? Well, we’ve probably all been guilty of it. We want others to indulge with us. No one wants to be the only one eating poorly, especially if you need to drop a few pounds. That said, nothing feels as good as being in hella good shape and mowing down as much food as you can to the dismay of others, but sadly those moments seem far and few between the older you get.
For most people who have weight to lose, the idea of others getting thinner around them makes them more conscientious of their own choices and their fitness level or lack thereof. So they judge. And shame. And sabotage.
Have a Game Plan
How do you react? Initially you’ll want to respond with some shaming back, but the holidays are not the time to tell your family members they could stand to lose a few. You’re definitely better off sticking to a game plan that keeps the peace.
You have a few options. If you’re a little obstinate like me, I like to simply say why I’m not eating something or that I don’t want to – that I’m trying to keep my weight down or I’m not a fan of certain fatty foods anymore. But I made a firm commitment to myself a few years back to stop appeasing other people. For most of you who have a stronger sense of decorum and nicety, are simply natural people pleasers or can’t afford to be off-putting to the food-pusher (ie: work engagements), you have a number of options.
- Option One: The Ambiguous Reply
“Have you tried my dip yet?” asks the coworker. Your response? “Oh you made that? Looks amazing. There is so much good food here! I am going to have to go back and get a second plate.”
- Option Two: The Classic Misdirection
“Is that all you’re eating?” asks your family member. “Oh, you know me, I’m saving all my room for grandma’s pecan pie” is a response sure to please, and by the time dessert time comes, she won’t likely be paying any attention.
- Option Three: The White Lie
“Have you gotten anything to eat yet? I haven’t seen you eat” says the friend. The fool proof response – “We had to stop at the in-laws on the way over and you know my mother-in-law, I couldn’t leave the house without eating half my weight in sugar cookies. Now I’m just stuffed, but I’m sure I’ll be ready for round two later.”
There are many ways you can brush off holiday eating pressure, the key is being prepared. It will happen. Have something in mind, or simply have your reason and share it with everyone. Maybe you’ll motivate someone to make better choices as well.
Don’t Avoid Social Events
Lastly, don’t stop enjoying the holidays and the social gatherings. If you find the pressure to indulge so burdensome that you don’t want to socialize or dread social events, that is a big sign that something is wrong. Fitness should enhance your life and your relationships with others, not inhibit it. If you can’t be around others eating poorly without being miserable or without gorging yourself in food, it’s time to reassess your goals and mental well-being.
The fit life is an evolving journey and some days will be easier than others, that’s for sure. But ultimately, it should be more fulfilling than limiting. And making healthy choices should be something you WANT to do, not something you feel you HAVE to do.
And with that, if you’re finding that the people in your life are more negative and detrimental to your goals, it may be time to asses those relationships. A good friend will be supportive of healthy change, even if that means you won’t be quite as much fun as you used to be after a bottle of wine. A good romantic partner will be happy for your success, not worried that you’ll just leave him or her once you get your sexy back. And when you demonstrate to your friends and family and loved ones the rationale behind your actions, they should get behind your goals and be excited for you.
The holidays can be stressful, but don’t let holiday gatherings and pushy relatives sabotage your fitness goals. Enjoy what you want to splurge on, eat what you determine is worth it to you, and have a strategy for dealing with those who try to bully you into bingeing along side them.
Cheers to the fit life this holiday season!