Fact: A majority of Americans gain 7 to 10 pounds between the Thanksgiving and New Years holidays.
It's a scary statistic, but we can change it. What if we all started the New Year without an extra 10 pounds to lose? What if we made a conscious choice to maintain control of our lives through our actions? I'm willing to bet we'd all be happier, healthier and much more grounded as human beings. Instead of spending the first six weeks of 2013 getting back to our pre-Thanksgiving weight, we could wisely use this time to strive toward meaningful new wellness and fitness goals.
As a coach I see this trend coming every year. Instead of simply accepting it and working around the indulgences of the holidays, this year I'm taking a stand. I've asked each of my clients to make a firm commitment to self-discipline. I've asked them to take note of their present weight, and invited them to try to maintain it until Jan. 1. I've asked them to think about everything they put into their mouths and to pause and think about the consequences of taking that bite. Just because food is beautifully presented on a buffet table does not mean it belongs in our mouths!
The holidays are not about losing weight, certainly, but showing restraint and doing the work during this stressful time will benefit you in so many ways. It will allow you to maintain control of your lifestyle and you'll feel empowered and powerful for staying the course. By strengthening our discipline and restraint "muscles" - often and mindfully - we're able to use them elsewhere in our lives (curbing overspending perhaps). And you won't start the New Year with yet another resolution to lose the 10 pounds you gained during the holidays.
I've created some tips to help guide you through this time of indulgence:
1. Reach out to people around you. Talk to one friend about your commitment to discipline and restraint.
2. Get help from an expert, or a team of experts like those at the Vail Vitality Center.
3. When you feel the stress start to build, and you begin turning to mindless eating and consumption, come back to center. Meditate, take a yoga class, pray, get outside; use a positive ritual to feel better and find your center.
4. If you get off-track, don't beat yourself up or cave into guilt and begin a negative spiral. Clean up your act and focus forward!
5. Show up and do the work. Do your entire workout - don't cut exercising short. These are the days you need it the most.
6. Use restraint in all things - make it a habit. Make choices that support who you want to be. Be mindful with your spending, mindful with your eating, and kind and patient with other people.
I strongly recommend lining up good resources during the holiday season. Find a strong team or group of friends, a coach or trainer, a medical expert or a support group. Surround yourself with positive energy and you'll realize your goals.
I offer a twice-weekly outdoor fitness course that incorporates cardio fitness and interval training. Join me at the Vail Vitality Center every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. for a supportive, fun, non-competitive on- and off-snow experience focused on helping participants establish a solid training foundation. Tuesday classes feature interval training for all levels, including beginners, and Thursday sessions focus on endurance and cardio training, again, for all levels. Punch cards are available for non-members. For information, call the Vail Vitality Center at 970-476-7721.
Ellen Miller is a Vitality Center cardio coach and high altitude training specialist, a Certified Level 2 USATF Endurance Coach, and a coach/manager for the U.S. Women's Mountain Running Team. She has summitted Mount Everest from both sides - Nepal and Tibet - and has climbed four 8,000-meter peaks in the Himalaya.