Why You Shouldn't Worry Too Much About Weight Gain During the Holidays

by Suzanne Hiscock
Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, the holidays tend to be the biggest time of worry for people who are looking to lose weight and stay on plan.

You’re likely going to many parties, getting stressed out over money, and  overindulging in food (and alcohol). All that can lead to an extra couple of pounds from mid-November until New Year’s.
And, if you have an all or nothing attitude, the holidays can break all the amazing food and exercise habits you've been creating during the year.

If you're worried about gaining weight over the holidays, here is what I tell my clients to ease their mind and help them get through the festivities:

Don’t Worry, You’re Probably Gaining Water Weight and Not Fat Weight

Sure, we do tend to feel a bit heavier and sluggish when it comes to holiday meals.  And if you step on the scale the next day, you’re likely to see a jump of a few pounds. But did you actually gain “fat” weight.  Probably not.

What you’re likely seeing is water weight gain.  You see, when we overeat during the holidays, we tend to eat a lot of carbs. For every 1 gram of carbs that you eat, you’ll also store about 2 to 3 grams of water.  (That’s where “water weight” comes from.)

So, let’s say you eat roughly 300 grams of carbs in one day.  You’re going to add on anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds of water weight.

Water.  Not fat.  Water.

That's how your scale can be deceiving!  You're looking down at the scale and getting discouraged because of... water.

See:  How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

And let’s not forget you probably haven’t, um, “expelled” all the food you ate. So, it’s still sitting there, somewhere on the inside. (Okay, poop!  I mean poop!)

That water weight will go away once you start eating “normally” again.   Eat low carb meals for a couple of days and you’ll see that water weight evaporate.

Take a Deep Breath -- And Then Another

You’re already feeling a bit desperate when you start thinking about the holidays, right?  I have clients who start worrying about Christmas eating at the beginning of November! That’s almost two whole months of stressing about something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Stressing about what you’re going to eat raises your cortisol levels.

Stressing about the holidays raises your cortisol levels.

Certain family members?  Yup, they can raise your cortisol levels, too.

And what happens when you’re cortisol levels are continuously being raised like that? 

You store fat. Especially in your belly.

You get cravings. Especially for sugary, carby kinds of foods.

Deep breathing, meditation, yoga are just some of the activities you can do to help lower those cortisol levels.

Eating high fat/low carb meals can help with your carb cravings.

More on that here:  How to Lower Your Cortiosol Levels Naturally.

Ditch the “All or Nothing” Attitude

The problem with an “all or nothing” mindset -- where you figure you may as well just do whatever you want if you can’t get it perfectly right -- is that it’s impossible to be 100% perfect when it comes to your food and exercise habits.  

It’s better to aim for 80% of sticking to your eating and workout plans than trying to hit 100% and feeling like a failure.

Nobody ever gets it 100% all the time.  They just don’t.

As a weight loss coach, I like to tell my clients  the “all or nothing” mindset rarely gives us “all” and often give us “nothing.”

Which leads me to something you might want to consider: overindulging might have some benefits. 

Say what?!?

The Argument FOR Overindulging and Why It Can Be Helpful

Wait..  What?  I can hear you saying.

Hang on now.  I’m not saying you should be overindulging all the time. That wouldn’t help you with your weight loss goals. And you’d feel pretty crappy if you overindulged all the time.

But once in a while? It’s. Okay.

Whenever I overindulged -- say, when I spend a weekend up at my friend’s cottage for Thanksgiving, at birthdays or during the holidays -- it always reminds me of how overeating (and overdrinking) messes with my body.

I feel sluggish.  I feel bloated. I feel tired. I feel cranky. 

I’ll get headaches or an upset stomach.  Or worse.

Overindulging does NOT leave you with a pleasant feeling when all the eating and drinking is done.

Feeling like crap reminds me of how energized and light I feel when I eat healthy foods in the right amounts and exercise.

I think...

THIS is why I don’t overeat."

"THIS is why I eat a lean protein and veggies at every meal."

"THIS is why I don’t drink THAT much wine.”

Overindulging helps to remind me that change is not a straight line.  You’re never going to be perfect with your food choices. This goes back to that “all or nothing” attitude we talked about up above.

There is ALWAYS going to be Thanksgiving meals. There is ALWAYS going to be office holiday parties and meals, where the food and alcohol seem to be endless.

And one more thing overindulging can help you with is: making sure you’re not restricting yourself too much.

The holidays are a great time for a mindset check-in.  Ask yourself, are you overindulging because you’ve been depriving yourself of certain foods you love? If that answer is yes, then you can look into easing up on those restrictions and learning how to work those foods into a regular eating plan.

Yes, you can lose weight even if you eat chocolate!  (And as a weight loss coach, I can show you how. )

I have few tips here to help you get through the holidays without the worry of gaining weight:

If you want to get a jump on New Year’s and start creating healthy eating habits that can get you through the holidays, check out my online weight loss program:  Weight Loss Coaching with Coach Suzanne.

Happy Holidays!
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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN L2 Certified Master Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 20 years, she's been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website, FitWatch.com.

And she’s really TRULY SORRY ABOUT THAT. You see, she didn’t realize she was contributing to diet culture; she just wanted to help people feel better. But losing weight isn’t the way to do it. She’s on a mission to change all that with an anti-diet approach. So, pardon the dust on the floor as the website gets revamped.