Health & Fitness

Surviving the Holidays

So, I made it. I survived the holidays.

The holidays, as everyone knows, are a perilous time if you’re trying to keep an eye on your weight. I’d done a lot of hard work this year and was a little anxious about whether I’d be able to keep it up over a time of cookies, candy, sweets, fudge, and Chex Mix. Especially since my track record wasn’t so great.To wit, last Christmastime, when I went from 218.5 on December 1st, to 221 at Christmas, to 225 by the Epiphany:

Chart between 12/1/16 and 1/6/17 showing a steady increase from 218 to 225 pounds
An already challenging month, with a bit more trouble toward the end.

Or the year before that, when I lost some weight in anticipation of Christmas, but found it again and more so by the New Year and Twelfth Night:

2015: a year in which I lost some weight in anticipation of the holidays, and then gained it all back and more during them.

Or the year before that…

chart showing steady weight gain

Or the disastrous 2012 Christmas season. November and December were rough months personally, so I didn’t keep careful track of my weight, but I do know that I was around 227 at the beginning of the month and 241 after Twelfth Night. (That would be my highest weight since my weight loss of 2008.)

Like the motto of my home state: Excelsior— “Ever upward”

So, based on past experience, it would not be unexpected to put on a few (or a bunch of) pounds over the holidays, but this year was different. This time around, I’ve been tracking everything, which led to some very different food choices. And unlike years, before, the trend was only downward:

A jagged graph, beginning near 187 and ending at 182. The trend line is downward beginning at 184.2 and ending at 181.9.

Granted, I had a head of steam running into December from November, but if we don’t just take December into account, but look at the period from December 25 through January 5, the Twelve Days of Christmas, we continue to find some encouraging news:

plot graph with through line showing consistent downward trend
If you squint just right, it kind of looks like a Christmas tree with a string of popcorn or lights on it.

As I’ve mentioned before, tracking food—both caloric intake and nutrients—has been a real help in taking off the weight.

But the other big help is success. Losing weight early on and then continuing to do so at a steady pace was the most encouraging aspect of all the dieting and exercise, because it demonstrated that my efforts would pay off. The more I lost weight, the more enthusiastic I became about doing so. When I got down to my target weight, I became enthusiastic about maintaining it. And now, that I’ve successfully navigated the perilous shoals of holiday festivities—from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond—I feel like there is no obstacle that can derail me.

This could never simply be a diet—it has to be a lifestyle change—and I am gratified to see that the effects of that lifestyle change are starting to take hold and turn from strategy to habit. And that’s the most encouraging thing of all.