Sunday, December 21, 2014

Keeping a Handle on Holiday Eating

When people say that the holidays can be a diet buster, I finally know the full extent of what they are talking about.  In the last several years, I can't say that I did much dieting over the holidays.  In fact, this was the perfect time to have one last hurrah before the January 1st New Year's Resolutions.  The temptations and opportunities are numerous, and it is built into social norms to imbibe in special food and drink.  I took full advantage of holiday eating in years past, and experienced the dull ache of guilt sprinkled throughout the days, like a Christmas cookie.

This year is completely different though.  I'm in the throws of trying to keep my weight off now, and I'm living a life that is much happier because of the weight loss.  But that doesn't mean that my choices have been stellar.  For the first time, really, I'm feeling the diet challenge posed by the holiday season.  The barrage of holiday parties, sweets, family events and gatherings (including the kids' finals and semester-end school projects and activities) have made it a real struggle for me to choose wisely.  The BLT's (bites, licks and tastes), and the full-on mindless choices of taking from the bread basket and having a second glass of wine, all add up quickly and the scale has moved up in response to it.  But unlike years past, I am aware of it, and I care about it.

These are the small gains that are written about in diet books.  They are the pounds that people often fail to shed, and that accumulate over time until all the weight is gained back.  Last night I took some time to think about what this month is all about.  I would have to say that for a person who is fighting a weight battle, it's the toughest fight of the year.

But does this weakened state of affairs mean that I'm defeated? No way!

It IS a battle that will require me to try harder and smarter so that I can regain my footing.

Last night I started re-reading Dr. Barbara Berkeley's "Refuse to Regain."  I read it a couple of months ago, when I first started transitioning to food.  It gives me a wake-up call to "warrior-up" and be strong in the face of challenges to my weight maintenance.  It reminds me of how my body, as a formerly obese person, is different than that of the person who was never overweight, and that I'm particularly sensitive to the "S Foods" (sugar and starch).  According to Dr. Berkeley, and my own observations, these foods cause insulin spikes that lead to rapid weight gain and increased cravings in people like me.  My formerly plump fat cells lie in wait for that insulin response, and they are ready to fill themselves up again.

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.  There is very little written about weight maintenance, and this book fills that void, with science-backed recommendations.

I've been giving some thought (again) to integrating Optifast products just to help manage my diet and get the excess weight off.  Why I have hesitated, I don't know, but I will start replacing at least some of my meals/snacks each day so that I don't put myself in the position of "waiting until the first of the year."  That is the pattern of the "old me" and now I know the physical and mental advantage derived from beginning right away.  While I would like to think that being able to manage my weight exclusively with real food is best, given how important it is to maintain my weight loss as a "weight loss rookie", it is most important to keep my weight regain at bay in the fastest possible way.  I will do that with a combination of meal replacements and whole foods.

I will probably write one more blog post this week before I leave on a 7 day cruise with my family.  It has been quite a year!  Thank you for sharing it with me.

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