Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Down, One to Go!

This has probably been the most challenging week ever for me, when it comes to weight management. Three work-related social events (with lots of rich food!) and a lunch outing at a restaurant with a coworker—this is a sure-fire plan for weight-loss sabotage—or at least it could be, if I were to succumb to all the temptations. And I have to admit, in times past, I would have just blown it and given up completely. “Resisting all this good food is impossible! I might as well just give up! I’ll just wait until after New Year’s to start controlling my weight,” I can just hear myself saying.

But although the week’s not over yet, I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to get through it, even losing a pound in the process. And I haven’t deprived myself, either! You know what the secret is? I’ve come up with a little three-step formula that works for me, and I think it could work for you too: Plan, measure, and track.

One good thing about the holidays is that, usually, social events are planned well in advance. In other words, your employer doesn’t wait until the day before to tell you that an office social will be happening tomorrow. The advantage here is that you can plan, that is, if you know that you’ll be eating out for dinner on Sunday night, you can make your earlier meals a little bit —or a lot—lighter. The other day, I found that by eating a huge salad for lunch and filling up on vegetables and other high-fiber, low-calorie foods, that I was satisfied, and not starving, when I arrived at the party that night. Then, when it was time to eat, I took generous helpings of salad and veggies, and went easy on the starches, such as sweet potatoes and dressing. I had a taste of everything, even the gravy, except that I chose to skip dessert altogether. But before you jump to the conclusion that I never indulge in sweet delights, rest assured that I do, on occasion. At our dinner outing the next night, I enjoyed a decadent slice of pecan pie, and savored every bite! But again, earlier in the day, I was very careful to watch what and how much I ate.

The key here is planning. I realize I can’t eat a rich dessert at every meal, or I will definitely blow it, but an occasional splurge, balancing it with lighter eating at other meals in the day, and with good planning in advance, is OK. Once again, it’s all about choice, intelligent choice, rather than mindless indulgence without regard to food values or portion sizes. And that brings me to my next point. Know what you’re eating. Study the fat, calorie, and fiber content of foods and choose wisely when food is placed in front of you. Learn to eyeball measurements (e.g., a cup of rice is about the size of a tennis ball) and be conscious of how much you’re consuming. Then, write it down. Did you know that scientific studies have shown that people who consistently track what they eat lose more weight than those who don’t?

There’s a lot more I could share, but before I go, here is one more quick tip: Eat slowly and savor your food. This one weight-management technique has helped me probably more than any. It takes time for your brain to get the message that you’re actually full, and if you eat more slowly, you won’t pack in more food than your body really needs. Instead of focusing on food, enjoy the company of friends and the conversation during this holiday season. Here’s to you: Healthy Holidays!

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