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This time of year, people tend to go in one of two directions, eating-wise: Either they double down on their dedication to a healthy diet and forego every sugar cookie, candied pecan, and cheese plate they encounter—or they say some version of “screw it” and dive head first into the buttered mashed potatoes (or cookie platter).
It’s holiday time. Gifts. Food. Family. More food. Spirits. Studies have shown that, on average, people gain about a pound over the holidays, and overweight people tend to gain more. So while a pound doesn’t sound too bad, the fact is that that pound usually stays put and, over the years, those single pounds add up to five, eight and, eventually, ten-pound weight gains. That translates into a whole new wardrobe.
The holidays are careening toward us again, whether we’re ready or not. It’s time to take a look at how we plan to take care of ourselves during the chaos. Let’s start with a few of the demands placed upon us. Although the list can be endless—shopping, parties, where will the money come from, baking, cleaning, entertaining, will Uncle Joe get drunk and ruin dinner—you have to carve out extra time for these chores.
Life is the living art of balance. Balance is a beautiful concept, rooted in the exquisite imagery of Yin and Yang. For most of us, the attempt at balance is more like a circus act of hither and thither, with multiple moving parts flying about our worlds in an unpredictable and mysterious way. As we all strive for our perfectly expressed version of “just the right amount,” it’s important to remember a few essential things to the practice of balance.
We are always looking to find the magic bullet—the thing that will fix everything for all time. What would be the fun in that? Where is the mastery and challenge in life when we just want to do something once and be done with it? We are always wanting to check things off the list. It’s part of being human. So how do we drop into commitments, and doing something better for ourselves? We must commit, but then recommit by making our new habits bulletproof.
Humans are inherently social creatures. Most of us enjoy the company of others and spend much of our waking time engaging in social interactions with friends and family.
Interestingly, people who spend a lot of time together often adopt one another’s eating and exercise habits, sometimes for the better, but often for the worse. Remember the old saying ‘birds of a feather, flock together’?
But there’s a positive side to our desire to conform socially. Find the right circle of friends — your own personal support group — and sticking to an exercise schedule or diet becomes easier. Hence the popularity of organized weight-loss groups and exercise classes.
Furthermore, research demonstrates that just having a weight-loss or fitness support system in place results in better adherence to diet and exercise and more pounds shed and kept off over the long term.
Don’t have access to a local support group? Make your own via one of the following social media platforms:
I did a Google search on what causes stress in people’s lives and I found things like unemployment, divorce, financial problems, health issues, fatigue and so on. In reflecting on how I deal with stress, let’s just say that far, far less than unemployment has caused me to eat a dozen donuts in one sitting!
Yes, I’m talking about stress eating. Most of us have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing it at one point or another, and it is not for the faint of heart. I can down a whole can of party peanuts if Auden has a particularly bad day at school! Thankfully I have come to terms with the real me and I am now able to recognize the signs of impending stress and do a fairly good job of not eating us out of house and home when things get rough. Please allow me to share some of my tips, and I welcome any you have to share that have worked for you.
So how can reducing stress help you lose weight?
It starts with the hormone cortisol, which has become synonymous with stress. You may have heard or seen an advertisement for yet another magic weight loss pill or potion that reduces cortisol in your body to help lose weight. But how does cortisol really affect our body’s ability to store fat? And how can we reduce the amount of cortisol in our bodies without resorting to weight loss pills?
I love dark chocolate. Its perfect mix of bitter and sweet scratches an itch down deep in my soul.
And yet, the past two times I’ve consumed it (once in the form of squares from an actual bar and once in the form of hot cocoa made with the highest quality cocoa powder I could find), it has upset my stomach.