Here we are, facing the holidays again and if you’re like me, you’re dreading those inevitable extra pounds that often surprise us on New Years Day – when we finally get the courage to climb up on the scales.
You wonder, how did it happen so fast when it takes to long to lose it?
So I was intrigued by the message posted this morning on WebMD.com. It claims you can prepare for the holidays by thinking yourself thin and enjoying all the bounty of the holidays.
Yeah right. I’m thinking and I’m thinking. But I’m not, or ever will be, “thin.” But I would like to enjoy the holiday fare that flows non-stop from Thanksgiving to New Years.
If you want to succeed at weight loss, you need to “cut the mental fat, and that will lead to cutting the waistline fat,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Fit to Live. “Look at the patterns and habits in your life that you are dragging around with you that get in the way of success.”
Mental fat, huh. Well, no wonder my brain fog is lifting later and later each morning. I’m nothing but a fathead.
Here’s how you can “think yourself thin.” I guess it’s worth a try…
1. Picture Yourself Thin.
If you want to be thin, picture yourself thin. Visualize your future self, six months to a year down the road, and think of how good you’ll look and feel without the extra pounds. Dig up old photographs of your thinner self and put them in a place as a reminder of what you are working toward. (I would, but then I’ve never been what you would call ‘thin”’.)
Ask yourself what you did back then that you could incorporate into your lifestyle today. (It helped being 35 with a metabolism that still worked.) And, advises Peeke, think about activities you would like to do but can’t because of your weight. (Surf boarding comes to mind.)
“To break old habits, you need to see yourself in a positive light,” Peeke says. (A positive light for me is total darkness – or at least candlelight.)
2. Have Realistic Expectations.
When doctors ask their patients how much they want to weigh, the number is often one that is realistically attainable. Peeke has her patients identify a realistic weight range, not a single number.
“I ask them to look ahead 12 months, and would they be happier being 12 or 24 pounds thinner?” she says “It only amounts to 1-2 pounds per month, which is totally doable, sustainable and manageable in the context of career and family.” She suggests reevaluating your weight goal after six months.
3. Set Small Goals.
Make a list of smaller goals that will help you achieve your weight loss goals.These mini-goals should be things that will improve your lifestyle without wreaking havoc in your life, such as:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables every day. Check.
- Getting some kind of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Check
- Drinking alcohol only on the weekends. (A quart of beer is not one beer.)
- Eating low-fat popcorn instead of chips.
- Ordering a side salad instead of french fries.
- Switch from simple carbs as in white bread to 100 percent whole grain.
- (Editor’s note: I did all of the above back in August and gained two pounds. I guess my “thinking” was to blame.)
4. Get Support.
We all need support, especially during the tough times. Find a friend, family member or support group you can connect with on a regular basis. Studies show people who are connected with others, whether it’s in person or online, do better than dieters who try to go it alone.
6. Reward Yourself.
Give yourself a pat on the back with a trip to the movies, a manicure, or whatever will help you feel good about your accomplishments – other than food rewards.
“Reward yourself after you have met one of your mini-goals or lost 5 pounds or a few inches around your waist, so you recognize your hard work and celebrate the steps you are taking to be healthier,” Peeke says.
7. Ditch Old Habits.
Old habits die hard, but you can’t continue to do things the way you used to if you want to succeed at weight loss.
“Slowly but surely, try to identify where you are engaging in behaviors that lead to weight gain and turn them around with little steps that you can easily handle without feeling deprived,” says Sass.
For example, if you are an evening couch potato, start by changing your snack from a bag of cookies or chips to a piece of fruit. The next night, try having just a calorie-free drink. Eventually, you can start doing exercises while you watch television.
Another way to get started ditching your bad habits: Get rid of the tempting, empty-calorie foods in your kitchen and replace them with healthier options.
8. Keep Track.
Weigh in regularly and keep journals detailing what you eat, how much you exercise, your emotions, and your weight and measurements. Studies show that keeping track of this information helps promote positive behaviors and minimize the unhealthy ones. Simply knowing that you’re tracking your food intake could help you resist that piece of cake!
“Journals are a form of accountability … that help reveal which strategies are working” says Peeke. “When you are accountable, you are less likely to have food disassociations, or be ‘asleep at the meal.'”