For most of you, your holiday season is well on its way. The tree is trimmed. The parties have been planned for weeks. The gifts have been purchased and wrapped. Holiday cards have been mailed.
A lot of us spend a significant amount of time planning for the holiday season. Usually this planning involves making sure that the other people in our lives are going to have a special time and get that memorable gift. Now that you have planned for everyone else—what is YOUR plan for surviving the holiday season?
If you are like many weight loss surgery (WLS) patients you have spent part of your life doing for and taking care all of the “others” in your life—never taking the time to care for yourself. This behavior has unfortunately caused you to neglect your health and make poor choices—like eating on the run, neglecting exercise or just not taking a moment to relax. The holidays tend to exacerbate this reality tenfold.
As much as you have planned for the holidays to make it a great experience for everyone else, it is essential that you also make a plan for yourself. How are you going to manage all of the temptations that you might come across at the holiday parties? How are you going to deal with the annoying relative who says, “Is that allyou are going to eat?” How are you going to manage when Grandma says, “You mean you aren’t going to have my special pie I made just for you?”
Here are some “planning tips” for you as you deal with the next week of festivities.
1. Make a commitment to stay on course with your protein intake. Remember the main rules after surgery are Protein, Protein, Protein. Load up on protein before you go out to that party. Or, better yet once at the party go right for the protein dishes so that you can follow your Protein first rules more easily.
2. If you are going to indulge during the holidays—make it a planned indulgence. Meaning that if Aunt Rose makes a great haystack cookie and you feel it is calling your name—PLAN ahead of time that this will be your choice of extravagance. This will help you avoid some of the other foods that also tend to call your name during dinner time.
3. For those of you who can tolerate alcohol—avoid it. I know I know...this can be a tough one especially if you come from a good German Irish family like I do. However, once you start drinking then most of your well laid plans go to heck. Alcohol lowers your will power and suddenly you are rationalizing how those mashed potatoes could potentially count toward a protein. Not to mention that alcohol is filled with sugars, calories, carbohydrates and lowers your metabolism.
4. Remember—it is not your last meal. Many times I hear WLS patients—especially those who are preparing for a surgery date right after the holidays—go overboard because this is the LAST HOLIDAY they will ever be able to eat. No, it is not. There will be many more holidays to come especially given the health benefits after surgery.
5. Keeping in mind it is not your last meal—Remember, that the holidays are actually not about the meal—they are about spending time with friends and family. Ok, for those of you with annoying relatives this might not be the case, but bear with me. Plan—there is that word again—plan ahead for the party you are attending. Instead of focusing on the food that is going to be served, focus on the people who are attending. Maybe you have a cousin or a nephew who you haven’t given any face time for most of the year. Make it a point to actually talk to him or her. Ask how things are going. Really pay attention to what he or she is saying. You will probably find that you actually enjoyed the evening more; and, in “planning to take care of yourself” you helped someone else who really needed your attention and not your material gift or homemade cookies.
6. Finally, movement is everything. If you can’t exercise, then at least move as much as you can. When you hit the mall for those last minute gifts this week and parking is bad—think to yourself that this is an opportunity to get some movement in. That far off parking space is the perfect way to add steps to your pedometer. Any movement is better than none.
WLS surgery patients who are having their first post-surgery holiday season and those who are years out from their surgery date alike, all struggle with the holidays. Expect it, know that it could be difficult, but PLAN for it. If you plan ahead there are no surprises and you are not beating yourself up in the morning because of that glass of egg nog. And finally, as I always say, get some support in the matter. Those who seek out support are going to do much better.
With that said—Happy Holidays to all!