Now that she's lost 154 pounds, Andrea Muirragui Davis starts the tricky task of trying to keep the weight off — just as the holiday feasting season begins.
So what's her plan for navigating the Christmas party circuit?
“I don't really have any secret strategies, though I'm looking forward to trying your 'infinite slice of pie' thing,” says Davis, alluding to a blog tip that we'll get to in a minute. Mostly, she says, she'll rely on techniques picked up over a lifetime of dieting that she finally mastered during more than a year on a medically supervised diet.
Davis' primary tools are diet fundamentals, such as not showing up hungry to a party, volunteering to bring something healthy and drinking at least one glass of water before she eats anything.
“When I join everyone else in the kitchen, I station myself near the food that won't hurt too much if I indulge, mostly veggies and protein,” says Davis, a former News-Sentinel editor who now works for the Indianapolis Business Journal in Indianapolis. “If I'm going to 'spend' the calories, I want to get some nutrients.”
We all know this stuff, and it really does work. But to actually use these strategies, you need a goal that transcends momentary temptations — and the long-term vision to view the holiday season as a whole.
“Probably one of the best tips I can offer is for people to really do some pre-planning,” says another 150-pound loser, a former Weight Watchers leader who's now quietly working to lose a few pounds that have since crept back on.
“Know that there will be special days, events, meals, parties, but there are lots of days in the holiday season where you can stick very well to your plan, and only reserve the special occasions to have a few of the 'extras.'”
That means having a plan that encompasses more than a single party or temptation. Focus on one or two changes you can make now that will impact the whole season.
Track your eating, for instance, which automatically reduces intake even if you don't give yourself a calorie limit. Or vow to get in some kind of exercise, no matter how seemingly trivial, every single day of the holiday season. (Runner's World is encouraging people to jog at least 1 mile every day between now and New Year's and to tweet about it using the hash tag #RWRunStreak.)
One way to rein in what local dietitian Marcia Crawford calls the “eating season” is to control liquid calories.
“If you enjoy an occasional glass of wine or beer or mixed drink, it's likely you won't recognize that your occasional drink has become three or that your two nights/week habit has become four nights/week,” says Crawford, who dispenses diet tips via her blog at www.MarciaCrawford.net.
Liquid calories add up but don't curb your appetite. “And over-drinking may diminish the chance of you following your good food plan,” she notes.
Offering to be designated driver — at least some of the time — is one way around this problem. Crawford also suggests alternating alcoholic drinks with zero-calorie options, such as sparkling water, club soda or diet soda. Start with the zero-calorie drink first, she notes, and you may decide you don't need to imbibe.
“Not only does it save you calories, it will save you the dehydrated feeling and accompanying headache the next day,” she says.
Finally, you could try that “infinite slice of pie” trick Davis mentioned earlier.
It works like this: Draw a triangle the size of a modest slice of pie on a disposable dessert plate. (If real plates are your only option, just visualize your triangle.)
Now choose as many desserts as you want —so long as you cut small enough pieces that they collectively fit within the boundaries of your imaginary pie slice.
Infinite pie means you never have to say no to sweets this holiday season, assuming you perfect your microsurgery skills.
Tanya Isch Caylor, a News-Sentinel copy editor, blogs on diet and fitness at www.90in9.wordpress.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.