Good news, everyone. I've made it through the sweet-toothed clutches of Christmas and can still zip up my pants, without sucking in my stomach. I would call this a smashing success.
Throughout this experience, I have come to learn a lot about my eating, cooking and holiday-entertaining habits, which has illuminated the problem I've had each year with quick, shameful weight-gains and near-invisible willpower. It turns out that I have a bad habit of channeling holiday cheer into what can fit in a mug, or on a plate. I have a feeling that many of you who also tend to gain weight during the holidays might just suffer from the same affliction.
The last time I checked in with you, I wasn't doing so great with the challenge to gain zero extra pounds this holiday season. When the proverbial rubber met the road, I prepared a Thanksgiving feast that rivaled a Las Vegas buffet spread. While I only indulged in one plate of decadent food, I still ingested more fat and calories in a single sitting than most do in an entire day. I didn't let that stop me from moving forward, however. I used that disappointment to fuel my fire to do better during Christmas. I'm excited to say - it worked.
Here are four things that changed since Thanksgiving:
1. I realized that if I didn't curb my holiday eating, I would have to write another embarrassing post for you to read, and that didn't sound like fun, at all.
Motivation has been the key component for every choice I've made this time around. I believe accountability has created a strong motivator for me to succeed. In the past, when my choices were between myself and my scale, it was easier to wade into the dark side of festive over-eating.
2. I used the time between then and now to discover other, even more fulfilling ways to celebrate the season, without food.
I made a concerted effort to discover ways to feel the holiday glow without eating my way through plates of peppermint bark. The simplest things, like blasting the radio playing Christmas carols, or plugging in my tree lights a little earlier in the day, and leaving them lit a little longer than normal, made my house feel warm and cheerful. I also put spending time with the kids as a priority. We watched Christmas movies together, took trips to neighborhoods drenched in holiday décor, and made a point to give back to our community via charities and volunteering. Without nightly cookie plates and cocoa mugs, we still felt cheerful.
3. I increased my at home exercising, and made sweat a daily requirement.
On my own time I made a promise to sweat once a day. It's not as easy as it sounds. From running in place, to using my son's torturous abdominal rolling device, I've taken a little time out of each day to incorporate some form of physical activity that made me perspire. This is a big step for someone who makes sedentary sound like a sport. As I type this sentence, I'm doing weighted leg lifts and butt crunches. Hey, I've got to get exercise in whenever I can.
4. I created sensational recipes that packed in flavor and were still healthy. The bonus factor was that my husband and sons loved them, too.
Finally, I chose to skip heavy winter meals and embrace light, spicy and fresh, instead. One of my family's favorite new dinners is my spicy chicken lettuce wraps. I use all kinds of raw veggies to supplement this hand-held meal, and use chiles to create the warming sensation I need during colder months. I even made a wonderful pumpkin soup with a bit of crisp bacon and toasted pumpkin seeds that my sons loved. Give the recipes a try and let me know what you think.
I have one more week left of my challenge. Our annual New Year's Eve celebration is right around the corner, and with it, the temptation to indulge in unhealthy appetizers and too many cocktails. I'm dedicated, now more than ever, to have a final check-in with you after the New Year, and prove that it is possible to eat healthy, celebrate the season, and not gain weight during the holidays. Stay tuned for my last post, where I will share my tricks and tips to stay healthy, and, my final weigh-in. I'll try not to panic. Until then, readers, Happy New Year!
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.