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Dancing Through the Holidays

Today I met with a client of mine, a wonderful woman who has been slowly losing weight. We meet periodically; sometimes she has lost a few pounds, and sometimes she has gained a bit. Overall, though, her weight has been going down and she is happy.

This visit she hadn't lost any weight, but she felt that her clothes were becoming “easier” to put on. Because I know she is active, we talked about how she may be increasing her muscles. I explained that while muscles increase weight, they take up less space than fat. So it is possible that while she isn’t seeing a change of weight on the scale, it is because she is gaining muscle. I explained that this is referred to as “changing her body composition” (losing body fat while increasing muscle mass) and that’s why her clothes are feeling looser. She may weigh the same…but she is taking up less space!

I asked her what her secret was, and she told me she was now salsa dancing, and she loved it. This was a new activity for her, it was social, fun, and, as a side benefit, it burned a lot of calories.

We went on to discuss what her strategies were for the holidays. Most folks are so concerned about gaining weight during this time that they are unable to enjoy the wonder of the season. They are afraid of losing control of their diets, and just can’t allow themselves the comfort of being with friends and family. So it is especially important to me to talk with my clients to make sure they can enjoy themselves during the holidays. We work to put together ideas to help them feel in control during these few months.

“I am going to dance through the holidays — that’s how I’m going to make it” she said — with a big grin on her face and then she laughed. Isn’t that wonderful? She has taken up this exciting new hobby, and has decided that if she can keep on dancing, watch what she’s eating, and maintain her weight during the next two months, her goals have been met. While she intends to pay some attention to food, she knows she doesn’t want to obsess about eating. And she also knows that if she keeps on dancing, she will be able to burn some of those extra calories and, more importantly, continue to enjoy herself.

I think we all need to find out how to dance through the holidays. We all need to find our strategies during these times when we are surrounded by food and drink. My concern is that too many people think they should be losing weight during the holidays, and this is a recipe for failure. What happens? You decide to deprive yourself of the foods you love, you are afraid to go to parties, so you become anxious around people you haven’t socialized with (not to mention the food), and the holidays become so stressful you aren’t able to enjoy yourself.

My suggestion to my clients and to everyone who is concerned about their weight? Find yourself an activity you enjoy (walking, running, jumping up and down — anything that involves moving), and try to do it as often as you can, without setting yourself an impossible goal. Remember to take a deep breath, have a look at EVERYTHING that is being offered (time to be with special people, listen to music, cook,) and taste it all.

So this person is going to dance through the holidays. What about you?

Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

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