The 10-Point Battle Plan for Surviving the Holidays

On 01/01/13, I was somewhere between 192 and 198 lbs, and I was really miserable. I was heavy on the outside, and I had an even heavier weight on the inside.

In April, I started DDP Yoga with some good, tough goals, goals I had never come close to meeting with other exercise or diet regimes. At the risk of repeating myself, I wanted to get down to 172 lbs, not injure my knees any more than they were already injured, and stick with the program for at least a month. At the close of 2013, I am down to 148 lbs, which – more importantly – I have maintained for three months. My knees were strong enough to run a half-marathon with my orthopedist’s blessing, which I did in under 10 mins/mile, and I have been with the program for over 6 months, and I have no plans to stop. In fact, I am actively working toward getting my certification as a DDP Yoga instructor, and running a full marathon in 2014.

In other words, I have come a long way this year.

But, before I get to New Year’s day of 2014 and officially declare 2013 a victory, there’s one last hurdle I need to get over: The Holidays! In addition to refraining from binging on the 8,000 calories the average person consumes during a thanksgiving meal, this year I am traveling out of country to see my family this year. That means being out of my element and away from the controlled environment of my own kitchen. As I have lived abroad for over a decade now, I will – from a culinary perspective – be a guest in someone else’s home. That puts me at the whims of their diet, and my family are most certainly not vegans, gluten-free, organic-chomping calorie-counters. As I will be in a different country, I don’t know if I will be able to find all the healthy mainstays of my diet. Finally, I will be jet-lagged, and I will have a jet-lagged toddler in tow. I am stressed about maintaining my health and weight over this month-long visit.

Like I said, I have come a long way, and I don’t want to undo it. Instead of sitting around and worrying about it, I am preparing strategies for it.

1. Preemptive Strike 
I have primed my family for my diet on my home turf. My mother visited last month, and my father visited this month. Both were able to see what I would and wouldn’t eat, and were able to see the level of commitment I have for this diet.

2. Measure for Measure
I went to Walmart, and bought the cheapest set of measuring cups I could find, which was a full set ranging from 1/2 tsp to 1 cup for 88c! These will be coming overseas with me, because most of the MyFitnessPal measurements are done by cup and we don’t use that unit in Europe. My number one food rule is to measure out what I eat, and I have no intention of letting that habit slide simply because I am abroad.

3. I’m Lookin’ at the (wo)Man in the Mirror
The first step in a backwards slide is the silencing of the part of your brain that stores your resolve to be healthy or your pride in your accomplishments. To avoid making that first misstep, I will do all I can to remind myself of the hard-earned accomplishments I don’t want jeopardize with short-lived enjoyment of junk food. This will range from writing my current weight on my hand before I go to cocktail parties with family friends, to posing in the mirror and looking at all the things I like about my new body as I get ready.

4. Buffering…..
Despite my best efforts, I may put on some weight over the holidays. For that reason, when I recently dropped a couple of pounds (I’m down to 146 lbs from the idela 15o lb), I didn’t adjust my calorie intake to get back up to my preferred weight. Instead, I will keep it off for the next couple of months, and therefore if I indulge once or twice, or miss the occasional workout, it won’t be the end of the world. That said, I will still be making my “best efforts”, and this weight buffer won’t be a carte blanche for eating crap.

5. Clean Up Your Act
I did a toxin cleanse a couple of months ago, and despite having no discernible drop in my toxin level – in fact, the recent bout of migraines I experienced may speak to the contrary – I did lose a couple of pounds. While crashing weight off is generally not a great idea, because I am so scientific with documenting my food intake, and I kept that weight off. I am fully planning to do another cleanse as soon as I get back after the holidays.

6. Forward Thinking
Arthur Boorman said on the DDP Yoga Experience Podcast that he has not met his goals. He always has new goals because if you’re not moving forward, you are sliding back. While I am proud to go home and show of my new healthy lifestyle and weight loss achievements, I am by no means done. I am doing a marathon and two 7-10 mile mud runs in the May 2014. As part of my training for these events, I need to keep myself on a healthy diet and in good fitness habits over the holiday season. Looking forward to those goals will help me look past the temptations.

7. The Accountability Crib Superhighway has helped me stick to my goals at home, and it will help me away. I will be checking in with the greatest support system on the planet while I am away, I will upload vlogs, and I will be an open book in terms of my failures. I have also made my MyFitnessPal log public, and I will continue to document every single morsel of food that I consume. Feel free to email me for an update!

8. Feeding Those Who Need It
Ben Miller of the original Donate Your Weight challenge has issued a holiday challenge to help out those in need. While I don’t want to lose any more weight, I will be adapting this challenge to help me keep my weight. At the end of the holiday season, I will donate 0.5 lb food for every 1 lb of my current weight, and 2 lbs for every 1 lb I gain over the holiday season.  I will also be focusing on Ben’s advice that he shared during the DDP Yoga Experience Podcast interview. When talking about having slips, he said to get back on the wagon right away, not the next day! I will be focusing on that advice, because that is a mistake I have made it the past. If I have one cookie, that will be one slip. If I have a second one half an hour later, that will be a second, distinct slip. The first cookie will not give me carte blanche to eat crap for the remainder of that calendar day. And I will document that cookie in my online food journal!

9. Stay in the Driver’s Seat
I am vegan, gluten-free, organic-food eating, pain in the ass to cater for. And I like it that way. Like I mentioned above, I like to know exactly what I am eating, measure it and document it properly. By being so obnoxious in my eating habits, it has become easier to just bring my own food to people’s houses. With some exceptions, most people are relieved to hear this after I get done explaining what I will and won’t eat. These days, I have shortened the conversation down to the following:

Host: Would you like to come for dinner?
Me: Yes. However, my diet is so strict that I have found it is easier to just bring my own food. I hope that’s okay with you.
Host: (normally). Sure!

I don’t mind doing this because while I have made this decision for myself, I am not some sanctimonious, evangelical vegan, and I don’t proselytize or attempt to convert anyone to my way of eating. I routinely cook meat with gluten for my husband or guests, and I have found (mostly) acceptance of my diet when I offer acceptance to others. While I am home, I plan to prepare as much of the food I eat myself. That way I can stay on track!

10. Lie. Lie Like Your Pants Are on Fire! 
When all else fails, I have found lying works. I told a certain family member that I have been off eating gluten so long that it now triggers migraines. There was an abrupt cessation of efforts to get me to eat bread when I did that!

Happy Holidays, Everyone!!



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