Guess what - many of us stress about the post holiday weight gain! However what we don't realise is that many of us don't actually gain as much as we think we do.
The stress of what you have eaten and your subsequent weight gain, could actually be damaging to trigger more disordered eating behaviours, including restrictive then overeating - kicking off a binge cycle as soon as your kick off your 2021! That's not cool!
What ever you have eaten, however you have chosen to spend your festive period - that was all a choice you made and actions you then pursued. There is no point reflecting on what you shoulda, coulda, woulda....You didn't and you need to focus on the present of what you now can control.
Of course, post festivity weight gain is something many of us will think about, worry about, have anxiety about, yet at the time, we still splurge, binge, overeat. This period itself is a time for making memories and enjoying our food with those we love and cherish around us, however, it does not mean we need to eat like an idiot either. You can enjoy yourself without going off the rails.
By now whatever is done is done, if largely overeating, binge eating, excessive emotional or uncontrollable eating is a problem you have commonly, it is worth reaching out to work with someone to rewire these behaviour patterns and better understand yourself. (Hi!)
Unfortunately, society today makes us feel like your weight is the most important and defining thing about our worth and our health...however, here are some things to consider as to why this post holiday perceived excess should not be given as much attention as you may be allowing for:
1. How many days have you really overeaten?
For some, the festivities are confined to Christmas day, for others it may include Christmas Eve, Boxing day and New years Eve. Even if you ran from Christmas day to New years Eve...this is a week! A WEEK!!
It takes an excess of 3500 calories over your maintenance calories to gain 1lb, of course however the mechanisms around this are a lot more complex, however to offer context of the scenario for you. When it comes to our routine of meal times over this period, we often are less rigid, more flexible as to when and what we eat.
One meal, one snack, one day, one month, isn't going to make that big of a difference. If your meal is high in salt, then yes, you will retain more fluid. Eating high volumes of food, of course until you go to the bathroom, will make you feel and be heavier, it doesn't mean you have actually gained permanent weight. Just like one healthy low calorie meal will not make your drop weight, one large, high calorie meal will not instantly make you gain permanent weight.
Remember that your weight can fluctuate more than five pounds in a single day because of sweating, breathing, using the bathroom, eating, and drinking, and more — all of which are completely normal!
2. Research shows holiday weight gain isn't as dramatic as you might expect
Now it isn't an area that is commonly studied, however regarding small group studies, this would lead us to believe that this post holiday weight gain is in fact not as dramatic as we expect/hype ourselves up to think and believe. More commonly 1-2 lbs if often more normal, with fluid retention and possible slower digestion due to food volume and variety of foods eaten compared to what you might normally have.
Fonnesbeck cited a study published in 2000 in the New England Journal of Medicine that followed 195 adults and found they gained an average of one pound once the holiday season was over. And in 2017, a review of existing studies concluded that adults gain 0.88 to 2 pounds over the holidays.
3. Stressing about holiday weight gain could backfire
It is possible that if you have more of a focus about your weight, and the focus of what you might have gained, this can actually then lead to more overeating or issues surrounding a binge/restrict cycle. As mentioned in previous blogs, having behaviours where we skip meals, eat clean, save up calories or do extra gym sessions in order to then 'splurge' are all methods of disordered eating. There could be an alarm bell there for you to further explore and resolve some disruptive behaviours.
All this does is lead to a cycle of restrict - binge - restrict ... Yo-yo fluctuations not, just around your weight, but your hormones, physiology and importantly your behaviours and beliefs about food and your body is damaging the more and more we repeat this vicious cycle.
Having the ability to learn to give yourself permission and empowerment will stand you for better success all year round.
Remember - the holiday season is there to be enjoyed, especially this year of them all, where it has been feasible to do so. Stop beating yourself up, savour in the enjoyment you had and set back to the lifestyle that serves you for health.
Getting back to your morning and daily routines
Focus on what you can control daily
Drink enough water
Mindfully plan, prepare and eat your foods - ones your enjoy but also provide nourishment towards your goals.
Get clear on the small daily habits you want to start establishing in order to move you towards your longer term goal.
Find something to love about yourself every single day!