Weight Goals During the Holidays? Get Real

Let me tell you about two clients I saw last week. Neither of these folks had lost any weight since their last visits, nor (and more important, especially during the holidays) had they gained any weight. What struck me with these two folks was that their attitudes were totally different, and I could see it in the way they behaved in my office.

These visits around the holidays are very important, because I find many people set unrealistic weight goals during this time of year. When they find it impossible to meet these goals, they become very disappointed and depressed, so I try to make sure to talk to as many clients as possible before the season is over.

Let me first tell you that in my practice, I like to talk for a while with my clients before I weigh them. It helps me get a sense of how they are doing and what’s going on in their lives that may affect their weight plans. It also helps me when it comes time to set goals for our next visit.

Client One had previously decided he was not going to “follow his meal plan” for three weeks. He had several family weekend activities coming up, and he also loves Halloween. He was quite surprised and pleased to discover he had not gained an ounce since our last appointment. He had, as planned, continued his activity, but stopped following any kind of eating “plan.” It seemed that he was intuitively eating better, and the activity is certainly helping with his goals.

Client Two, on the other hand, came in very frustrated and upset with herself. Keeping food records is one of the methods she uses to help herself “stay on track.” This had worked for her since our first meeting, and she said she wanted to continue recording her intake. However, she had stopped keeping records two weeks before our appointment (we were meeting every 3-4 weeks). She felt she had been overeating, and just didn’t want to see it on paper. She was feeling out of control and very guilty about her behaviors. Among other things, she had injured her shoulder and couldn’t exercise regularly, and she felt trapped in a downward spiral.

I tried to make several suggestions, such as taking small walks, setting less ambitious activity goals — anything to help her pull herself out of this slump. But she didn’t want to hear any of it. After a while, we took her weight, and she discovered she, too, had not put on weight. Suddenly, her entire demeanor changed. She was smiling, and open to many of the suggestions we had just discussed! She said that she felt optimistic and now thought she would be able to start keeping records and becoming active. She was a different person.

Why was he so positive when he first came in, and she so negative? The answer is easy — attitude.

His attitude was much more realistic than hers. He had decided NOT to diet, and so if there were no “rules” to break, he was still in control. He had no reason to feel disappointed, because he had done nothing “wrong.” She, on the other hand, had a much more negative attitude. While she had given up keeping food records, she had not given herself permission to stop dieting. Her attitude was that she was out of control, and so she had failed.

Please be realistic about your behaviors, especially during the holidays. I tell my clients the goal is to work to stay active and to maintain weight. Since his attitude was more realistic, he was so much more pleasant and not at all disappointed. She, unfortunately, had been unrealistic, and so disappointed herself.

Don’t set goals you cannot keep. Maybe it is best to forget about your eating behaviors for the next few weeks. Set yourself activity goals instead. Try going up and down your stairs for five minutes when you get up in the morning. It may turn out that five minutes is goes by really fast (especially if the TV is on), so you’ll walk for ten…fifteen. You get the idea.

You may also find that if you allow yourself to eat what you want, when you want to eat it, your need for the food may decrease. When foods are not forbidden, the need for those foods becomes less and less. And, the amount of food it takes to satisfy you becomes less as well.

Try it — and have a wonderful holiday season.

Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

NOTE: Information in this site should not replace any medical advice you have
received from your primary care doctor or other medical professionals.