Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.
The days are shorter. There’s a nip in the air; although I have to say it seems warmer, everywhere I’ve been recently, than is typical. The airports were packed yesterday.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving. Already.
First, let me say this. Many people struggle through the holiday season. Some are alone and feel isolated; some struggling with money, stress, relationships, or any other number of things. Some people have lost family members, jobs, homes, or love in the past and the holidays can reopen those wounds. This may result in a case of the blues, or clinical anxiety and depression. Please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional if you’re struggling. That’s not what this blog is about.
I want to talk specifically about the “Survive the Holidays” madness. In fact, I have so much to say, I’m breaking this blog into two sections!
Part I: The Craziness Itself
If I had a dollar for each of the “survive the holidays diet”, “3-day ‘pre-detox'”, “wrap”, “cream”, “pill”, “powder”, and/or “shake” messages I’ve seen come across my FB feed, in the last couple of weeks, I would have enough to celebrate Thanksgiving on a dive boat in the South Pacific with several of my friends and family members.
I typed, “Survive the Holidays” into Google and netted 18,900,000 results (0.31seconds) and another 338,000 when I added “how to” before that phrase. And a “pre-detox”? WTH? Yup, it turns out that really IS “a thing”. That garnered me 656,000 results. Check it out on google but keep your money in your pocket. Your liver, intestines, kidneys, and lymphatic system are your body’s natural detox organs.
But, I digress. On to surviving the holidays…..
Why do we worry about it?
PARTY!!! From now until after January 1st, there will be parties, at work and within our other social groups. It has been proven that we eat more in groups. Everyone else is eating. We eat mindlessly – putting food into our mouths, washing it down with tasty beverages, all while we’re talking. That plate of food is gone before we can even muse, “Yum. Meatballs! I need this recipe.”
FOOD!!! There are tasty treats everywhere. Pie. Cookies. Donuts. Egg nog. Mashed potato with gravy and sweets with marshmallows. Fudge and chocolates. Wine and spiced cider. Cake. Stuff we only see at this time of the year, frequently made by people we love.
NO SUN!!! The days are shorter so we feel less motivated to exercises when it’s dark as we get out of work. Oh my gosh, I’m really struggling with this one!! It’s starting to get cooler – adding that to the early darkness, we feel more like curling up on the couch than going to the gym. It also leads to craving more warm and hearty foods. We drink less water than when it’s warmer outside.
STRESS, ANYONE? We are under more stress to get it “all” done. We have our regular commitments and responsibilities but now we also need to find time to go shopping, make food for and attend the increased gatherings, and ensure we are actively carrying on family traditions. Stress increases cortisol which can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, and increase fat storage.
Do we need to worry about it?
I was actually shocked to find that numerous studies, conducted since 2000, show:
Holiday weight gain actually averages 1-2 pounds vice the 5-7 we frequently see reported.
That said, it’s not all great news. Even though it’s only 1-2 pounds, we typically don’t shed that extra weight later. Next year, it’s another 1-2 on top of this, and next year, and next year. The other thing worth noting is that, while there’s less weight change than many report, there may be increases in body fat.
Asking the right questions:
I. If studies show the average weight gain is 1-2 pounds, why do we hear higher numbers then?
II. A better question might be: where are you hearing the higher numbers from?
Answer: Marketing based on fear that YOU will gain 5-7 pounds and you “shouldn’t”. You’re hearing this stuff from companies that have some type of weight loss or “health related” product to sell you. Marketing 101.
III. If you do gain a few pounds, is it a “disaster”? Probably not. Will you be thrilled? Maybe not. Can you mitigate it starting now though moderation? Probably. Can you change it later though consistent application of reasonable nutrition and exercise habits? Probably so.
Calling it a d.i.s.a.s.t.e.r. might be a tiny bit melodramatic.
The holidays are times when most of us get to see family and friends we don’t see all the time. We take more time to relax, chat, talk, and laugh. These are all fantastic things!
The holidays are not something we should try to “survive”.
Be sure to check in for Part II tomorrow.
That will cover my top 12 suggestions for enjoying the holidays without just surviving them.