Holiday Confessions!

Holiday Confessions! – Originally posted January 19, 2012

Reposted on September 29, 2012

I do fully realize that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & my birthday (January 8) are now long gone and we would all like to move on with this New Year 2012. However I felt it would be remiss if I didn’t communicate some interesting things that I learned passing through this time of year about myself and about this journey to becoming healthy.

Going into Thanksgiving we had been on this journey for about 3 solid months and our home “environment” was very much changed. If you read my recent blog entry “Targeting for Change” I talked at length about the stages of change based on a graph from Weight Watchers (if you haven’t read it you have to check it out cuz it is my favorite blog entry so far!). Well environment is the first and easiest area to facilitate change. Regarding food we no longer had anything in our refrigerator or cabinets that would not be good for our body. House environment under control, check!

When going out to eat we by this point had developed the routine of choosing a restaurant ahead of time, looking at the menu and nutritional info on said restaurant’s website, and pre-choosing our meal in advance. In this day and age all restaurants no matter how small, yes even Berry’s in Norwalk, OH, has a menu on their website. Not all have nutritional info but we have found we make better informed food choices if we minimally look at the menu from home first and come up with a game plan before entering into the restaurant. You know they pay marketing people millions of dollars on jingles, commercials, & menu pictures to ignite your taste buds and tempt you into all kinds of delicacies that are not good for you or your wallet. So our restaurant environment was under control as well, check!

That said I have to be honest and tell you that going into this holiday season was overwhelming to me as much of the environment phase that we have mastered would be tested and challenged. Thanksgiving is spent every year with my husband’s grandmother who is an amazing cook. She has been cooking since she was seven years old and had to pull a stool up to the stove top (not kidding). We split the cooking duties and my husband and I make the turkey, several sides, and usually one dessert. She does the ham, the rest of the sides, and several yummy desserts. This Thanksgiving we were armed with a plan. We discussed in advance the entire menu with his grandmother. This helped us prepare in two major ways. We could then plan to bring at least one side and a dessert that we would feel good about putting into our body. This also helped us determine what dishes we didn’t want to sacrifice for and what dishes we wanted to factor into our points (caloric intake) for that day. For instance there is always a traditional pasta salad on hand at any of our family gatherings. Though I like it and have eaten it in the past many times, this isn’t a “special” dish that we only get this time of year. Whereas his grandmother makes “The Best” stuffing this side of heaven (please don’t be offended Ohio family but I’ve converted) and I had to eat at least a cup of stuffing. This delicacy is only offered at Thanksgiving and Christmas so it was prioritized in my plate that day.

Our plan for Thanksgiving survival also included the following:

-We started our planning in prayer to ask for God’s help in preparing and making choices that would honor him.

-We made sure to eat breakfast, small snack, and lunch as we would normally so as to not go to dinner completely starving.
-We drank plenty of water all day including all evening at the event.
-We got plenty of rest that week and prioritized sleep even with family in town.
-We pre-choose the items including quantities that we were going to put into our bodies that day. We enjoyed the foods that we love including dessert and did not deprive ourselves while being in control.
-We brought a measuring cup and measured the food items such as stuffing, rice, potatoes, etc. just like we would in our home environment.
-We positioned ourselves at the end of the table furthest from the food so that we were not visually looking at food all night. This also allowed us to connect with family and enjoy the conversation with Thanksgiving.
-I know a lot of his grandmother’s recipes and I pre-calculated the calories for some of the dishes ahead of time so that I could be informed on what the values would be.
-We planned ahead that we would not take any food home, and if pressured only items that we could fit within our healthy routine.
-We went to the gym and exercised good all week and then the following weekend as we normally would.
-We attended our WW support group meeting faithfully which fostered encouragement and camaraderie. This is not a journey that you can walk alone through, we need people.

Long story short we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were successful in our plan and even got more activity with my husband’s Latin family spontaneously broke out the salsa dancing later that evening. It was one of the most fun holidays we have ever had. At our WW weigh in the Saturday following we both actually lost weight that week. All this planning may seem ridiculous or exaggerated to you but you have to understand the power that food has over me & others. It is a powerful addition like any other. I have been “dieting” in the past countless times and the holiday season has completely thrown me overboard. One compromise leads to another, then another, which leads to shame, regret, & humiliation. It is a slippery slope and I never want to under estimate its power again.

Thanksgiving laid the framework for the rest of the holiday season. With its success we maintained a similar plan at Christmas, New Years & my birthday. We didn’t deprive ourselves but made choices that would honor God. We cooked a lot, we made informed decisions when going out to eat, we exercised daily, and we loved on and enjoyed family. For so many years of my life my mind over the holidays has been consumed with food and followed by a New Year that began with shame & guilt. It is amazing how God ministered to my heart this season as I have allowed him into this area. My time with family was so much richer, my connection with the meaning of the holiday was so much more vivid, and my joy was complete as we got on the scale at our WW meeting and in the end both lost weight through it all.

Questions for you….

1. Can you relate to what I shared about feeling guilt and shame following a holiday?

2. What has been your biggest food struggle around the holidays?

3. What tips do you use to surviving the holiday?

4. What tips that I shared stood out to you that you might try?

5. Maybe you don’t have issues with food but you have friends or family that do. How can you use some of these tips to support them during your next get together?


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