Millions of us make resolutions, vows, promises and pinky swears during these colder holiday months about the food we’ll avoid or just have “one little bite” of, right? And we get all revved up for the pre- and post- meal walks we’re going to take. When this doesn’t happen 100 percent, we are unhappy with ourselves and our so-called “failures.” It’s not possible for the mind to think “I failed” and “I feel that holiday warm glow” concurrently.
Set yourself up for success by making realistic, achievable goals. And write them down! Or share those goals with people who support you and ask them to help you. I have a few suggestions that I promise you will work. I know because when I’m not doing fitness and writing, I secretly have a background in counseling!
» When the holiday spread is before you, look it over before putting any food on your plate. Follow these steps: a) Decide which food you really love and just know you’ll have seconds of. If you won’t touch sweet potatoes with marshmallows the other 364 days, why start now? b) Choose the dishes you like fairly well, but one helping is enough. For that food, put it on your plate, then put half of it back in the dish (OK, if your plate is already dirty, just take less in the first place — you get my point). c) For the stuff you’re just eating because it’s there or to make the cook happy, just take one small teaspoonful (or none, if you can get away with it) and move it around the plate a bit!
Even if the stuff you picked for seconds is high-calorie and low-nutrition, at least you’re taking in fewer calories overall. This is a reasonable goal, right? And you can easily be successful. P.S. I am not recommending eating junk on a regular basis. Bad advice. Bad. Bad.
» On those stressful shopping days, think “realistic and achievable” again. Whether you’re shopping for gifts or groceries, take each purchase to the car separately, rather than holding on to all the bags. If you’re mall shopping, take the bags to the car in between each store! That little bit of extra walking counts as exercise! And as you walk to the car, do a little bicep curl using those bags. Silly? Maybe. But it’s better to feel a little silly in front of complete strangers who just want to find a parking space than to feel bad about yourself.
» I hate the term self-control because it sounds like a panty hose ad. I prefer “self-choice.” It’s the hectic time of year, and it’s not usually possible to prepare healthful meals every night. But you can only eat what you bring into the house! So decide before you buy. If you know you won’t have time or energy for creating dinner, choose (or cook) what it will be before you leave the house. Eat-in or take-away, it’s so much easier to make good choices before you’re grumpy and tired (yeah, I’ve done mall shopping with kids).
» And don’t give up your exercise routine. Maybe you have to adjust it (shorter, easier, closer to home, fewer days), but modifying temporarily is a lot better than giving up. Instead of thinking about how much of a hassle exercise will be during this busy season, think instead of how you’ll feel after you exercise. Energized? Proud? Buff? Sexy? Stronger? Healthier? Whatever is your word, focus on that as that is what will get you up and moving.
Speaking of moving, I think I need to go remind my son (for the 3 kabillionith time) to turn down the bass on his highly annoying music. Now I know how my parents felt! sigh …
— Alexandra Williams MA (counseling) is a humorous expert fitness speaker, radio host, editor and columnist for Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, which she writes with her identical twin sister, Kymberly Williams-Evans MA. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to email@example.com.