Delaying Resolutions

by Andie Mitchell on November 26, 2012

Changing your life is a scary proposition. You become so used to the rut you’re currently in that even the thought of change can be overwhelming. One way to deal with this fear is to delay starting to make improvements in our lives. We know what we need to do to live the kind of life we desire. But, to placate ourselves we say we’ll start making serious efforts after an arbitrary amount of time or milestone. Around this time of year the excuse is usually “I’ll start after the holidays.”

Every single January 1st from the ages of 10-20, I had a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. In the months leading up to the New Year, I’d tell myself to just get through the holidays and January would bring a fresh start. I was giving myself a license to binge. I was reassuring myself that change was just around the corner. The damage done in the months preceding the first of year was detrimental. Truthfully, I just wasn’t ready to change. I’d be falling back into destructive habits by Martin Luther King Day, only arriving at a higher weight than when I began.

If you know you want to make a change in your life, whether it’s related to weight, a bad habit, or an unhealthy relationship, it’s best to not spend the next month binge eating every food you plan to give up in the New Year. Doing that will only make January’s start all the more ominous and overwhelming.

Now, I’m not mandating that you start your healthy living plan immediately, though, by all means–go ahead and rock it if you feel up to it! I’m simply encouraging all of us to focus on maintaining our weights through the holidays. It’s the pragmatist’s plan for a season defined by eating merrily. And it can work if you let it.

I like to be realistic when it comes to the Christmas buffet my family prepares, but I also like to approach that spread with the mindfulness that I have during the rest of the year. I like to leave my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve with some shred of dignity. So I keep in mind that the zeal I bring with me to the table this season shouldn’t be a world different than the one I bring in springtime and summer and fall. Always, I try to pace myself. Always, I try to savor. Always, I try to pause before portion number two. And it’s never perfect; it’s simply worthwhile. It supports one of my favorite personal mantras, ”Eat in a way that you’re proud of.” It empowers me.

How do you handle eating during the holiday season?

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz @ Tip Top Shape November 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

While I do go by the once-a-year thing (allow some splurges) I also remind myself that if I eat myself silly, I will feel sick and no one wants that during the holidays. I try to find a balance, but I don’t beat myself up too much if I oversplurge here or there.

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Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! November 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I agree! My plan for the next month is to maintain my weight, however I’ve been stuck in the 240′s for too long and I would love to be in the 230′s come January. If I break through the 240′s in the next few weeks I’ll be thrilled, but maintaining my weight through Christmas would be a great success too.

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Andrea F November 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I’ve lost 30 pounds since July and I was really afraid of the set back the cold weather and holidays can bring, so I’ve joined a 90 day weight loss challenge. It was so hopefully to have the support and encouragement of the ladies in my group on Thanksgiving. And it will be nice to have them there through Christmas and New Years. Also, the thought of having to be the first one to pay for gaining weight has made me focus on portion size and exercise.

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Rose November 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I think it’s possibly harder when you are younger because you can eat more with less discomfort. These day, in my fifties, I get physically uncomfortable and really lethargic if I overeat so I don’t.

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Pam November 27, 2012 at 1:59 am

I thought I would be able to handle Thanksgiving pretty well, I’ve been sticking to my diet and fitness routine better than I ever had before and was really anxious about Thanksgiving. I decided I would let myself enjoy Thanksgiving and not stress but that turned into enjoying leftovers Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday! My stomach hates me now and its pretty annoying throwing away all the hard work I’ve been doing but it’s a new day today, so back at it!

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Linda November 27, 2012 at 3:22 am

I’m traveling to US for Christmas holiday. And again I’m trying to get my mental model prepared to refuse all the ‘delicious foods’ (meaning junk food) and to start to think about good foods that I could eat instead. But somehow I feel inside that I’m missing something big if I choose the salad instead of hamburger, or fruits instead of chocolate cake.

I love your personal mantra. Lately I’ve been skimming through Pinterest to find out motivating mantras.

So I really didn’t have any good tips for your question because I’m still struggling with myself. I have realized that every day is good day to make the change. I don’t wait for next Monday, or next month or 1st of January.

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Megan November 27, 2012 at 4:33 am

thank you Andi! Great words of encouragement…as always, so wise, so mindful, so helpful !! I’m wanting to post this on Facebook cause I know we can all learn from your words…Christmas eating does not have to be torture or a free for all…there can be balance that keeps you happy!

looking forward to applying these principles!!

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Megan November 27, 2012 at 4:35 am

is there a way I can share this link? Again, I’d love to encourage my FB friends with your words :)

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Michelle November 27, 2012 at 5:34 am

I am only going to be eating the goodies that are homemade and available at this time of year only. I get platters of cookies and cakes almost everyday in December but most are either stuff that we get year round or from a store and while they are tempting they are not worth the weight gain. I have done this for the last few years and it has really helped me.

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Alisha November 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

I plan on deciding if it’s worth it or not.
A homemade cookie = worth it. A storebought pie = not worth it since most are gross.

My gram’s apple pie = worth it. The potatoes my cousin made for Thanksgiving = not worth it lol

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Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) November 27, 2012 at 5:43 am

Until I lost weight I used to do the exact same thing as you every single year (and most every single weekend too!) – it was an awful, destructive pattern that I couldn’t break.

I finally broke it when I accepted the fact that healthy living is not all or nothing – not feast or famine. If you have a bad day or week and go overboard you can always make the next decision a healthy one and you don’t have to wait until Monday or January 1st to do it. You can also have cupcakes AND brussels sprouts too.

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Jane November 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

That’s a very good mantra you have, Andie — “eat in a way that you’re proud of” — I like it. I will remember that. Another motivational saying I saw recently said, “Losing weight is hard; maintaining your weight is hard; being fat is hard. Choose your ‘hard.’ ” That pretty much sums it up, I thought. When I find myself in a mood to avoid food-reality, I try to recall that and snap myself back into a healthier awareness.

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Leslie November 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

I love your blog! I am a WW leader and I am really trying to get my members to stop thinking about spending this years holiday on a diet. I want them to figure out how they can “eat in a way they are proud of” this and every holiday season. I am definitely going to mention your mantra at my next meeting. I have used your blog for encouragement for many of my members! Thanks!

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Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) November 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

I like to eat until I’m comfortable, telling myself that I can always have more later if I’m physically hungry. Knowing that I can have whatever I want, whenever I’m hungry, prevents feeling like I have to have one more bite.

Great tips/thoughts! :D

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TJ November 27, 2012 at 7:53 am

Love this!

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Kara November 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

Thank you so much for posting this. Procrastination is something I feel we all go through, using the New Years Resolution as a “starting” point rather than starting today.
Last night for the first time in a while, I didn’t let myself get up and get a snack when I was munchy, instead I sipped my ICE (carbonated water 0cal). OK I’ll admit, choice had nothing to do with it, my Oreos were out. But still, the result was the same. I am proud of it today, so I had a protein shake for breakfast instead of my usual Cinnamon Toast Crunch accompanied by 2 packets of Swiss Miss.

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Amelia November 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thanks for this! You’re right. Dedicating energy immediately to change is where it’s at. I’ve never been a believer in the New Year’s resolution. I feel like sometimes you’re setting yourself up to fail.

This year, my friend and I started Nov 1st. The first to lose 10 lbs, a pant size or pay $1000 off a credit card by Jan 1st gets a massage as a reward!

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Lissa November 27, 2012 at 8:22 am

I’m hoping to lose a few pounds by the end of the year, but it’s impossible to not indulge at so many “once a year” occasions. My plan is to eat to lose every minute of the day that’s not a special event. So this weekend, we have a formal holiday party. I’m eating clean, 5-6 meals a day, lots of water and getting exercise in. Then, I’ll get in a good workout before the party Saturday and I will eat the nice food at the party (but not stuff myself). Hopefully this will work :)

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Katie November 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

You speak to me, dear Andie. I’ve so missed your posts like this.

Glad to know you’re still in there and I simply just cannot wait for your book. Lots of love.

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Sybil November 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

Before Thanksgiving, I finally decided to get my stomach/body under control.

So, I “gave up” aspartame and have noticed that I don’t crave fake sugar anymore. I fill up on proteins at each meal, and I’ve simply noticed that I feel better.

Also, at Thanksgiving, I told myself to wait 20min in between each serving of whatever. Usually, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I’d be which, YES, was weird!

Plus, lots of water. I know people preach that all the damn time, but it totally works. Yesterday, I was starving at 11am and knew I had a lunch meeting at noon to just wait it out for – so I chugged some water. I made it until the meeting and didn’t wolf down the sandwich.

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Michal November 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm

You are so right. Ah the alluring but dangerous trap of the yo-yo. Thanks for this message :)

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Rachel C November 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Such a smart post (like always!) Between August 2010 and March 2011, I lost approximately 30 pounds through hard work and eating smart. The holidays was definitely the worst part simply because there are so many seasonal treats that I didn’t want to pass on. So, I switched to a maintain mentality and it really helped me survive. Now, two years later, I’ve gained back about 5-10 of those lost pounds and I’m ready to lose it back. But, knowing myself and my love for seasonal treats, I know this isn’t the time to start hardcore smart eating. So, instead I am focusing on making small changes, limiting my holiday treating and setting realistic goals for myself — exercising 4 days a week, curbing my afternoon soda habit and sticking to only the holiday treats I LOVE.

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janice November 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm

holidays are a challenge, but we get through. I am working on ENJOYING what I choose instead of wasting time lamenting what I chose, how much I chose, when I should’ve stopped, or all of that. If I ate it, I might as well have ENJOYED it and then tomorrow’s a new day.
I also like to remind myself that are three or four strategically placed months after the holidays before the weather warm up where I can work on fitness and eating goals for the sunshine months!

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Dawn November 28, 2012 at 5:49 am

Great article! A friend shared it with me when I was trying to decide if I should return to Weight Watchers NOW or wait until January. I am a “lifetime” member who is about 20 lbs over goal. I went back last night, and read this today. You hit the nail on the head! Take control NOW! Not January 1.

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Rebecca S November 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I have been slowly losing weight over the past few months, and honestly a lot of it was because of inspiration from you Andi. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on this new journey is moderation, I can have anything I *REALLY* want but in a reasonable small serving along with other things that nourish me. I decided to continue this route even through the holidays because I feel SO much better and I deserve to feel well. I am still managing to balance eating a little bit of the things I really want along with delicious veggies. I don’t want to live in such a restrictive way that I can’t enjoy a nice meal and have a treat on occasion. I still managed to loose 2 lbs this past week!

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Pam November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Reading your mantra (”Eat in a way that you’re proud of.”) was an A-ha! moment for me. Thank you for sharing it.

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Danielle at Yeah I Said It Blog December 4, 2012 at 10:19 am

Thank you for sharing this. It’s just what I needed to read!

My holiday eating plan is to think ahead and mentally plan my plate based on foods that I don’t usually eat year round, but really like. (It works at Thanksgiving too!) I don’t want to waste space or calories on foods that I can eat anytime.

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gina December 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

After Thanksgiving I had a little freak out about gaining weight over the holidays. I went looking for books about navigating eating during the holidays or something like that and I found this over the weekend. It’s actually pretty cool. It’s called “Nutritional Alignment” and the author makes so much sense of eating so that you can maintain your weight and still enjoy food- it just all sounds sane. http://www.amazon.com/Nutritional-Alignment%C2%AE-Living-Synergy-ebook/dp/B00AFG0H6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354655964&sr=8-1&keywords=nutritional+alignment

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Amanda Morey December 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Thank you once again for such a great post! Your blog is always a blessing. I handle the holidays by remembering how I felt last December 26th. I could not fit into any of pants and ended buying two pairs that fit. I was so embarrassed. The humiliation and shame I felt is not easily forgotten. That very clear memory motivates me to be conscious, stay in control, and truly ask myself if that next bite is worth it.

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Amanda Morey December 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Thank you once again for such a great post! Your blog is always a blessing. I handle the holidays by remembering how I felt last December 26th. I could not fit into any of pants and ended buying two pairs that fit. I was so embarrassed. The humiliation and shame I felt is not easily forgotten. That very clear memory motivates me to be conscious, stay in control, and truly ask myself if that next bite is worth it.

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Suki December 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Oh Andie! I want to thank you, retroactively, for this post which I read on November 27th. Your post was the swift kick I needed and I realized I was looking FORWARD to binging through the holiday season, reassured by the fact that I’d hit the first weight watchers meeting of the year.

So you know what I did? I hit the first weight watchers meeting of the day. And rather than gaining the standard 10 lbs I usually gain between Halloween and the new year, I am DOWN 20 lbs. THANK YOU for being the motivation I needed; for renewing my love of long walks; for reminding me to look for ways to fulfill myself rather than fill myself. You are an amazing, amazing woman. xoxo/s

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