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How I Managed to Eat Well and Not Gain Weight

This is part four in a four-part series following one writer's progress to maintain her weight throughout the holiday season. Read part one here, part two here, and part three here.

A little over six weeks ago, I had the brilliant idea to write a series that documented a challenge I wanted to accomplish: to gain zero extra pounds this holiday season. Today is my final post, and where I reveal to you all whether or not I succeeded in meeting my goal.

For the last ten years, I've fallen under the spell of holiday heft. I always manage to gain weight, beginning at Halloween when I sneak into my kids' candy stash, peaking around Thanksgiving when my baking kicks into overdrive, and fizzling out just after New Year's Day, when I wake up literally feeling the full weight of my choices over the season.

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This year, I wanted to tell a new story, one that shows even a die-hard holiday eater and exercise minimalist can keep the holiday bulge at bay, and start off the New Year with purpose, not regret. So here we are, fresh on the heels of 2014, and I've got some stats to share.

Before I divulge the details, I want to fill you in on my week since my last post. Christmas went well for me, which was great, considering I completely caved-in during Thanksgiving. The week after Christmas proved to be more difficult than anticipated, with good reason. I had wrist surgery.

While this surgery had long been in the works, I wasn't prepared for the amount of rest my body required. Even two days after surgery I was still sleeping most of the day away. The combination of strong medications and the healing process left me exhausted, and often, hungry. My wonderful husband, who had taken time off to help me with my recovery, became captain of the kitchen. His meals, while intensely delicious, weren't always healthy. We rotated through a tasty menu of hamburgers, grilled sausages and sandwiches piled high with meat and cheese. Three days after the operation, I had an undigested knot in my belly. I looked at my husband with wet eyes and begged him for a salad. He happily complied.

I was scared that my recuperative period would undo six weeks of hard work. I felt sluggish and slow, and had my husband hide the scale behind the door so I wouldn't be tempted to weigh myself. I was sure that when it came time to report back to all of you, it would be news of failure.

Yesterday was spent course-correcting. Although I'm not fully recovered, I am far more lucid, and therefore able to give specific input on what I'd like to eat. I have to admit, it's kind of nice to be on the receiving end of dinnertime. Last night, we enjoyed a juicy roasted chicken with a side of arugula. I love bitter greens, and each forkful felt like a cleansing.

I also got myself out of bed, showered, and to the beach for a beautiful sunset stroll. It was nice to breathe in fresh air, and it made me realize how much I'd grown to love my walks during the last few weeks. While my husband and I watched the sun set, I reflected on how I'd changed since I began this challenge. At the start, I was someone uninterested in healthy eating. It seemed lackluster, and filled with sacrifice. Yet, the opposite turned out to be true. There are many great recipes that don't rely on excess fat and calories for flavor. I also disliked exercising. To some extent, I still do, but I discovered that if I engage myself in movement to have fun, it doesn't feel like exercise at all, and I still reap all the benefits.

Last night, before I went to bed, I made two promises to myself. One: that no matter what the scale said today, I had succeeded. Two: this challenge won't end today. It is the start of a new way of living healthier, each day.

Time for my big reveal.

My starting weight in November was 171 lbs. Today, I am proud to report that I weighed-in at 169 lbs!

Somehow, the changes I made and the effort I put in gave me a little wiggle room to indulge after surgery. This is a great start to a new year and a new me. I can't wait to see what else I can accomplish. It turns out that little changes can yield big results.

Happy 2014! I hope that your goals for healthy living bring as much success as I've had.

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I Made it Through Christmas and Can Still Zip Up My Pants

Bryanne Salazar is a freelance writer and editor, a contributing author for the website What the Flicka?, and a food-meets-culture blogger living in Southern California. Her blog, Bryanne Bites the World documents her explorations of various ethnic communities and food cultures across the United States. Bryanne has a degree in English focused on creative writing, and loves to pen short stories in her spare time. She is also an advocate for women and girls worldwide, the mother of two teenage boys, and the wife of an active duty United States Marine. You can follow Bryanne on Twitter and Facebook to see what she's working on next.



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