And just like that, it's That Time of the Year again. Is it really Thanksgiving already? (In the US, yes.) Good lord. I'm still mentally back at the end of October.
I don't generally fear the holidays; I've managed to navigate my way through the last two seasons without any longterm damage, and I see no reason why I can't do it again this year. In the absence of any actual news to write about, I figured I'd talk about what I do to keep from going completely off the rails during the various parties and family dinners and pies and nogs and roast beasts that tend to turn up at this time of year.
First and foremost: Although it isn't always easy, I make every effort to keep up with my regular exercise and to incorporate even more walking to offset the eating. Instead of sitting around in a turkey coma, I try to go outside for a brief after-dinner walk on Thanksgiving. I actually enjoy being out and about at this time of year, which seems to make me a freak among people who hate cold weather and Christmas shopping; it's not a hardship for me to walk around looking at decorations and drinking in the autumn air. Even a few extra laps around the mall during shopping helps.
The holidays bring some of my favorite treats, things like Starbucks eggnog lattes and Trader Joe's Peppermint Bark white chocolate bars. (Man ... those things just shouldn't be allowed. Even my not-a-big-chocolate-fan husband loves them.) I treat myself to one per week while they're available. And to keep myself from getting cute, the allotment doesn't carry over; if I don't have one this week, I don't get to have two next week. One per week, period. I really like doing things this way; the good things become treats to be anticipated and savored, rather than something to beat myself up over after I've overindulged. (Back in my mindless days, it wasn't totally unheard of for me to have two grande eggnog lattes in a day. According to the Starbucks site, that's a cool 960 calories on top of whatever my daily caloric intake was at the time. Yeouch.)
I also have a survival strategy for holiday parties that feature lots and lots of decadent food: I look through everything that's being offered and pick out three things that look appealing. And the choices don't have to be the least-fattening stuff; I do try for balance, but I refuse to completely deprive myself. If I want more food when I'm finished (or if something I picked looked better than it tastes), I can go back and take something else; usually, though, I'm satisfied after the first round. And if the chips and salsa or pizza or homemade cookies start calling my name too loudly, I just leave the room.
And if there's turkey or chicken available, I tend to pile it on (without gravy; I'll save that for mashed potatoes). It's filling, it sticks with me for a while, and it makes me far less likely to cram in a second helping of pumpkin pie.
For those of you who want extra incentive to stay on track, the Lean Plate Club has kicked off its annual Lean Plate Club Challenge. This one is pretty straightforward: Simply maintain your weight between now and January 1. If you can do that, they reason, you're ahead of the game, as over the holiday season many people put on a few pounds that never come off.
There's nothing particularly earth-shattering about any of their advice, but the site updates every Tuesday and it can give you a goal to shoot for if you like that kind of motivation. The LPC also gave me one of my favorite coping tips for when I'm in the kitchen cooking and start feeling tempted to take fingerfuls of this and tastes of that; I put together a plate of baby carrots and grape tomatoes and pick at those instead. It satisfies my grazing urge and helps me get in my veggies at the same time.
Hope these are helpful; if anyone's got any other tips to share, feel free to do so in the comments.