Hello. I'd like to introduce myself. I am the average American woman. Like many ladies across the United States, I fluctuate between a size 12 and 14, I work, raise children, have a spouse, and every holiday season, I completely overindulge in delicious, homemade seasonal treats. Each end-of-October, the cycle of holiday weight gain begins, and by the New Year, I am curled in the fetal position, resolving to lose the fifteen pounds I gained since Halloween. This fluctuation in my size and self esteem are as predictable as a chorus, and this time, I'm determined to change my tune.
That is why this season I've given myself the challenge to not gain a single pound during the holidays. Not one. This will be tricky, since I genuinely love to eat, especially all the tasty holiday foods so popular during the colder months. I figured this goal would be challenging enough, without adding the stress of trying to also lose weight during this time of plenty. If I succeed, I can focus on getting into better shape come the New Year without feeling gluttonous and slothful at the start.
How will I accomplish this mighty goal of zero weight gain? Since food seems to be my kryptonite, I plan on researching some of my favorites--rich hot chocolate, smooth and creamy eggnog, pumpkin and apple filled desserts--and attempt to recreate them with healthier, more figure-friendly ingredients. Then, I'll share my recipe results, and my journey, with you. Over the next two months, I will check in frequently to let you know how I'm progressing, where I'm struggling, and what recipe swaps taste as good as the real thing. I hope you'll stay with me, and maybe you'll decide to take the challenge to keep the extra holiday weight off, too.
My journey with you begins today. For the record, and to hold myself accountable to you all, I will break protocol and share my weight. I currently weigh-in at 171 pounds, which is right at the borderline between overweight and obese. Not something I'm proud of, but it took a lot of courage for me to write that last sentence.
As I'm writing this, it's just two weeks until Thanksgiving, and if you read my previous post, I've already come up with a few exotic side dishes that are lighter in calories but full of delicious flavor. This year will be the first time I host Thanksgiving for my extended family at my house. There's a lot of pressure to provide delicious, traditional food for everyone to enjoy. I am nervous that my recipe swaps won't be accepted, and I can feel the lure to cave-in and make all the butter and cream whipped veggies, and full-fat sides I know my family will adore. I resolve to stand firm and provide at least a few healthier options. We'll see how that goes.
It's also colder outside, and that means hot chocolate and baked treats in my house. Every year after the sugar-rush of Halloween, I embark on a seven-week journey of nightly sweets. This year, with my sons' support, I have tested and tasted several varieties of both hot cocoa and hot chocolate, and found a recipe that is less than 200 calories per cup, extremely rich, and easy to make. The recipe is located here.
For the baked goods department, I played around with a few pumpkin-pie flavored muffin recipes, and found a winner. This super moist, dense and filling muffin recipe is sweet but not cloyingly so, and it absolutely hit the holiday-flavor notes I was looking for. Plus, since I swapped out wheat flour for ground oat flour, the muffins are now gluten-free and for someone with a chronically aching belly, that makes them even more delicious. You can find the recipe here.
As far as exercise goes, I haven't found the motivation to get up from my desk and move. I'm hoping to change that soon. Sometimes it feels like grocery shopping, housework and making dinner are exercise and maybe I rely too heavily on that excuse. I hope to report back to you in a few weeks, after Thanksgiving, and let you know I've overcome my fitness-phobia and stayed strong on the dinner-table home front. Until then, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, and the best of luck on your own healthy-lifestyle journeys.
Do you have any healthy living tips for the holidays? Feel free to share them below. I can use all the help you can give.
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 majored in English and creative writing in college, 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 to see what she's working on next.