Day 32--Making a Big Holiday Strategy

Welcome to Day 32!

Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas! The holidays just don’t seem the same without all your favorite treats. Your used to indulging every time you turn around. How can you still enjoy the holidays?

Well, it turns out that Cook serves one special treat on each holiday, and it was enough. Umh, that was surprising.


INTRODUCTION

Holiday Strategy

To avoid gaining weight at the holidays, you need to craft a holiday strategy. This personalized holiday strategy needs to take into account your life, your traditions, your preferences, and your body. 

Some holidays may be pretty easy to navigate--such as Memorial Day, but Thanksgiving and Christmas may present special weight challenges.

No matter what country you live in or what holidays you celebrate, the tips below can help you be strategic about your BIG Holiday indulgences.


Major Weight Gain

There are three things that cause the majority of weight gain around the Holidays--treats people give you, parties, and treats that are only available/ you make at this time of year.

We need to plan ahead and come up with a strategy for each.

Treats People Give You

It seems like every night someone is ringing the doorbell to drop off another plate of cookies or a tray of fudge. The Assistant loves all the treats people bring because she can easily play the guilt card. She pleads with you, "Your neighbor made these sugar cookies just for you (and 50 of her closest friends and acquaintances)!" And you usually give in.

It's a lot easier to throw away extra dessert that you yourself made (still not easy, but easier). But, throw away free food that someone else made for you? It just feels wrong.

So what can you do about it?

You worked hard to take off the pounds, and you don't won't to gain weight because of guilt associated with unsolicited treats.

There are two strategies that work well. The first is pre-emptive. Tell your friends/ neighbors that you are excited to get their Christmas cards, but could they help your healthy habits by just bringing a card not treats. This can be said in person or even on a Facebook post. Also, if you bring something by to neighbors first that isn't treat related, you can tell your neighbors/ friends that you're just wanting cards not treats this year.

Not everyone will get the message, so what to do about the rebel treat bringers?

Put their treats on ice for a later party or indulgence. Putting the treats in the freezer turns down cravings and the immediate urge to eat the treats.

At my house, we freeze all the Christmas cookies/ candy and bring them out to share with friends at our Annual Gingerbread House Making Party.

Another idea is to save them for Christmas Day. But odds are, time and freezing turns down their appeal and the guilt involved with them.

Parties

How many holiday parties will you be going to this year?

If it was just one party, you probably wouldn't have to worry. But with multiple parties per week, you definitely need a strategy.

My favorite strategy for parties is based on the strategy of becoming a food snob. Cultivating a liking for high-quality foods.  You don't want eat foods that "are beneath you." Bring out your inner food critic.

First, If it's a potluck, always bring your own food that you would love to eat, but work with your weight loss goals. Don’t leave the majority of your dinner up to other people.

Then, once you're at the party, examine the buffet table. Walk up and down it critiquing the food before you load up your plate.

Rate each food on a scale from 1-10. Fill up only one plate of food with foods that rate a 9 or above. Bring your own foods that you consider a 9 or 10 just in case.

You'll be surprised when you rate foods how most of them don't make your "high standards."

Special Holiday Treats

Your Assistant part of your brain is an economist. If there is something that is only available for a limited time only, then it becomes more valuable and more desirable.

She is going to pull out all the stops trying to talk the Boss into eating them. She'll say stuff like, "What if you miss your chance to eat these truffles?" Or she'll say, "This is a special part of Christmas each year. You don't want to ruin your kids' Christmas by not making these cookies."

She knows what to say to talk the Boss into limited-time only Christmas treats. This would be fine if there was only one "special" food. But, she thinks every treat at Christmas time is special.

Again, we need to bring out our inner food snobs. Ask yourself if it's worth it first. "What is good enough and worth the indulgence (and possible weight gain)?" Then, decide if it is worth it, when will you indulge in it.

The Assistant would love it if you indulged every time you pass Cadbury mini eggs in the supermarket, convenience store, or gas station (my personal favorite). But, let's be strategic about it and indulge on purpose.

Make those special treats something to savor either at a party, Dessert Day, or on the big day itself.

Then, if you're cravings start ramping up, you can use a technique called Episodic Future Thinking (EFT).

Basically, you think about how you will enjoy that treat when you indulge on purpose in the future. Research shows that EFT--imagining enjoying the treat in the future helps you to wait to enjoy it..

It turns down the intensity of the craving, so you can wait for later to savor and indulge on purpose. Try imagining enjoying the food on Christmas Day or Dessert Day and watch how your need for immediate gratification decreases.

Dealing with Holiday Temptations

There are three parts of dealing with all the temptations of the holidays: Minimizing Temptations, Dealing with Free Food, and Splurging on Purpose. 

  1. Minimize Temptations--The sub-conscious Assistant part of the brain is very sensitive to environmental cues, so wait to buy or make treats until the last minute, store them in out-of-the-way, hard to get to places, and then aim for no leftovers.

  2. Dealing with Free Food--Free Food is a special temptation to your brain because it's a good value. The problem is that free food is everywhere during the holidays. Watch the video to find out how to deal with the almost irresistible nature of free food.

  3. Splurge on Purpose--Prioritize which items of the holiday feast are important to you and which aren’t. Enjoy the splurge, and then aim to not have any leftovers.

Most weight gain comes from the leftovers, temptations, and free food on the days and weeks leading up to and after the holidays, so remember that the mantra "The Holiday is just a Day--not a season."

To get through the minefield of temptations, you'll have to do a bit of thinking about what obstacles you'll face and come up with strategies for them. 

Remember to keep weighing daily and reading your Big Why to keep you on course. There's a time to indulge--just make sure it's on purpose and not every day.

Thanksgiving Help

You can use this blog post article to help you come up with a plan for Thanksgiving. Knowing and implementing these strategies can help you enjoy the holiday without lingering scale regret.

 

THE LESSON

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Big Holiday Strategy

The holidays are upon us, and we've been working hard to lose weight. We don't want to backslide.

So, today we're going to talk about the three things that make it hard to lose weight or not gain weight during the holidays.


Treats People Give You

The first one that we're going to talk about—is treats people give you. It seems like every other night, every night, several times a night, people are ringing the doorbell and delivering treats.

It's nice for them to bring treats, but it's not so nice for the scale.

And your brain— the Assistant has a hard time with treats. It's because of something called the Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT).

According to the OFT, the Assistant is an economist. She loves a good value. She loves free food because you don't have to have any work to get it.

And especially if there are strings attached, like someone made this especially for you, then she has a lot of leverage there with the boss saying, “You've got to eat this. This is a special treat.“

There's guilt there, and it looks good.

So, what can we do about it?

The first thing is have a rule around treats. So, decide what you're going to do. If someone brings you something, only have a bite. If it's your favorite, don't have any.

Some people what they like to do is put it in the freezer. So for some reason, when you put it in the freezer and putting it on ice, turns down the temptation.

One of the things that we do is we put it in the freezer and we keep it until a s a special day. So maybe the 24th we can have whatever we want, we save it. Until then that cools down the guilt.

You still get to have it, but by then just doesn't seem quite as tasty. So, decide what your rule is going to be around special treats. 

Parties

The other thing that makes Christmas difficult when it comes to weight loss is parties.

It seems like every other night there's some kind of special occasion and everyone brings a bunch of traits and it can be a lot to keep the weight off the scale. So again, have a party rule—something that you keep to to deal with parties.

One of my favorites is to go along the buffet line and rate everything. “That looks like a five. Oh, that's not my favorite. I'm going to say 3. Oh, that's maybe a 7. That looks pretty good.”

Rate everything before you take it. Take one plate and then only take the things that are a nine or above and can fit on one plate.

Again, come up with your own strategy. But that's one of my favorites. It's not worth it, if it's below a nine.

So, only the best stuff.


Seasonal Treats

The last thing that makes the holidays hard is the special treats that you can only have that time of year.

Again, the assistant in your brain, she's an economist. If something doesn't come around very often, then it's desirable. We want it more.

If it's a special treat you only make at the holidays, the Assistant's going to be rooting for you to eat that.

So again, we need to have some kind of special rule and know she's going to be pushing us.

“Oh my gosh, candy canes are only around this time a year.”

“Oh, remember you only make cookies like that this time a year. You better eat them.”


Episodic Future Thinking

There's a special technique that you can use when it comes to special treats. This is called episodic future thinking or EFT. It's a way to calm down the cravings. 

Sometimes the Assistant can ramp those cravings up so that it feels like they are irresistible. You have to have those treats! But, EFT cools down those cravings.

Now what you do here, is you think about all the great things you're going to have on Christmas when you indulge on purpose or on your next Dessert Day. Think about how you could put off those favorite treats are the ones that are reserved for Christmas until that special day—Desert Day or Christmas.

Then you start imagining how they good they will be. Then this episodic future thinking turns down the cravings so that you can indulge and enjoy them in the future.

Go ahead and try it next time you walk by special candy in the grocery store. See what happens. It actually works.

The Assignment

So go ahead and write down what your rules are and what your strategies are going to be.

Remember these three things surrounding Holidays. Remember, there's the treats people give you, there's all those parties, and then there are the seasonal treats.

Come up with rules for each of them and a Holiday Season strategy and watch how you can keep the increase in your weight at bay and you can actually lose weight. This Christmas is going to be great.

Mission Freedom!

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