5 EASY MIND HACKS TO AVOID HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
Research shows that in that magical time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s a.k.a. “The Holiday Season”, the average adult will gain a not so magical 3.5-6.7 pounds. If you are fretting that one of those people might be you– keep reading!
As a clinical hypnotherapist who is an expert in the psychology of weight management, I have spent years in my practice observing the mental side of setting yourself up for success at this time of year. I have also been a victim of holiday weight gain when I struggled with my own weight over twenty years ago—one year gaining 25 pounds during this time!
WHY DO WE END UP ON THE NAUGHTY LIST EVERY YEAR?
Why is it that so many of us head into the holidays with the best of intentions to “be good this year” and yet by the time the tinsel has hit the tree we find ourselves hitting the peppermint bark and eggnog?
Both the challenge of holiday overeating and the solution to lay in one place—your mind.
THE CHALLENGE: The holidays put our already overwhelmed minds into a mental tailspin.
- Running around stressed trying to get everything done
- Holiday parties with the social pressures of “tis the season to be jolly”
- Comfort foods with emotional ties to the past crossing our paths
THE GOOD NEWS: I know that you can have an amazing holiday and either maintain your health, mental peace and your weight—and even release weight if you decide. All it takes is making a few specific mental shifts.
I am sharing with you 5 MIND HACKS that you can easily implement over the next few weeks and not only survive the holidays with your current weight intact, but when you use these easy techniques you can actually THRIVE during the season.
BONUS: I am offering you a FREE Curb Your Sugar Cravings Hypnosis download (see below). Use it to prevent getting hijacked by sugar cravings this year.
5 EASY MIND HACKS TO AVOID HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
MIND HACK #1: PROGRAM IN A SPECIFIC AND SEXY VISION FOR JANUARY 1
Challenge: Hoping or Trying To “Be Good” Means Nothing to Our Minds
Often our best attempt at dealing with the holidays is to make a knee-jerk attempt at “trying” or “hoping” to be good with no specific strategy or motivating outcome in mind. This only engages the conscious mind—which sorry to say—is only about 12% of our mind’s brain-power.
“Be good” means nothing to our minds. Our brain needs clear directions with specific goals otherwise all the temptations and stresses of the holidays will quickly run our friends “hope and try” out of town on a train with a one-way ticket to the North Pole.
Solution: Start Your Holiday Season with an Emotionally Charged Vision and Keep It Going
Our mind loves creating. When we create an exciting and emotionally desirable and exciting vision of ourselves feeling light, healthy, and proud of ourselves on January 1st it engages our imagination which lives in our subconscious mind—the more powerful 88%.
Research shows that a powerful vision of a healthier slimmer you in the future helps you say no to temptations in the present.
Start Now: Take a moment and imagine yourself somewhere specific on January 1.
Imagine how good you will feel for having maintained your weight (or even released) this holiday. Experience the feelings of pride and happiness of achieving your goal now. Take a deep breath and lock this feeling into your vision—this is your inner script for the holiday season.
Daily Practice: Bring your vision to mind in the morning before rising into your busy day. Ask yourself “what do I need to do today to move myself closer to this goal?” and think through your day in your mind. Doing this helps leverage the power of your vision.
Note: If you chose to lose weight over the season, I find it helpful to be specific and realistic:
- SPECIFIC: Choose a specific goal and ask yourself—“what are the actions that I need to take to achieve this?” (example: Exercise 4 times a week, stay within 1500 calories a day, etc.). The more specific you are the more your mind can help you follow through on your goal.
- REALISTIC: The holidays pose a challenge for weight loss because of all the extra social activities. Be realistic with yourself and your weight goals. Trying to lose too much may just add “brain strain” and cause you to give up all together and overeat. Give yourself the option to reduce your weight loss goal or to focus on maintaining your weight through the holiday.
MIND HACK #2: OVERRIDE SOCIAL SELF SABOTAGE WITH “MENTAL MOVIES”
Challenge: Holiday Event Habits Are Wired Deep
Some of the fattening holiday party habits that we have acquired may have been going on for years:
- -Mindlessly eating too many refined party foods
- -Drinking more than you intended and then eating more
- -Bending to social pressure from others— “Have another!”
These habits are wired into our subconscious—88% of our mind’s power (mentioned above). So even though our conscious mind wants to make healthy choices at the party and keep it light our subconscious mind wants “business as usual” even if it is fattening and may wind up making us feel bad and bloated later.
Solution:To override deep habits we need to work with the power of our mind and not against it. The reward neurotransmitter dopamine plays a big role in creating that sense of excitement about having fun at a party and all the delicious holiday foods that we are used to indulging in.
We can use dopamine and the sense of reward to bypass the fattening habits by creating a mental movie of being at the party and bypassing the fattening foods that leave us feeling bloated for the lighter and healthier options. You can then imagine yourself at the end of the movie going home feeling light and proud for having truly had a wonderful party where you got to connect with family and friends but also stayed true to your bigger reward—your health and peace of mind!
Start Now: Try making a mental movie “Coming Attractions – Party”
Before you go to your next holiday party event take a minute and imagine the party experience ahead of time. Imagine both the business as usual party experience and how you will feel afterwards and then the healthy behaviors party.
In your imagination experience both party experiences from the moment you walk in the door to the moment that you leave.
HORROR MOVIE PARTY EXPERIENCE: Imagine yourself going to the party and you: -Eat all the holiday foods laid out on the buffet a feeling of fullness is coming on…
- Drink too much and begin to feel a head rush…
- Take the sugary dessert the hostess is offering.
- You don’t really want it but eat it anyway since it’s there in your hand…it takes you over the edge. The horror music begins to play.
Now imagine leaving the party—bloated, imbalanced, and wishing you hadn’t eaten all that food. Any enjoyment of the food and party is being blotted out by feeling bad about yourself and out of control.
Now your mind has a negative feeling related to the overindulging and now you are ready to ignite the dopamine in your mind to be excited about a different outcome.
FEEL GOOD FLICK PARTY EXPERIENCE: Imagine yourself going to the party and you:
- Make healthy choices at the buffet—allowing yourself some small tastes of the special holiday foods but you choose mostly lighter foods. Your meal allows you to feel fed but not full.
- Stop at one drink and switch to water…feeling more even keeled…more relaxed.
- Say ‘no thank you’ to the hostess when dessert is offered but you make her happy anyway by offering to help her clean up some plates. That feel-good movie tune begins to surge…
Now see yourself leaving the party feeling good, confident and in control. What a rewarding feeling that is. Feel how your mind begins to get excited about this scenario instead.This is how we can begin to bypass old behaviors—by showing our deeper mind how much more satisfying the new healthy habits are.
MIND HACK #3: HIT DELETE ON THE “I BLEW IT—SO SCREW IT” IMPULSE
Challenge: Addicted to ‘Being Good—Being Bad—The Being Good Again’ Cycle
Many people who struggle with weight have gotten into a habit of that goes something like this:
- Starting the week in “being good” mode: We drink the smoothie with kale, we eat the salad with chicken, we exercise and drink water. The halo shines above our head.
- Somewhere along the way we blow “being good”: We eat something “bad” or get stressed or go to a party and eat something we didn’t intend to and we think “I blew it!”
- We think since I already blew it—SCREW IT!: This is when we decide that—what the hell—I have screwed up so I will just let go and eat whatever until tomorrow (or Monday) when I will be good again. We trade the halo for the pitch fork and eat, and eat, and eat.
This cycle, my friends, is where most of the holiday weight is gained.
Solution: Interrupt the ‘Screw It’ with the Shift Technique
Here is a technique I teach in my Shift Weight Mastery Process. It is a cognitive shifting technique that takes you out of the impulsive instinct to give up and overeat and allows you to stay consistently moving forwards with your healthy eating plan.
When you feel like you are about to say “screw it” and overeat–
- Take a deep breath—This interrupts your “screw it” impulse and opens you up to have a more mature and healthy interaction with yourself.
- Forgive yourself—say “wow I ate that brownie—how human—I am still a good person and this doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Often we shame ourselves when we eat something bad which of course stresses us out and makes us want to eat more. Forgive!
- Get out your Inner Coach and SHIFT into problem solver: We all have an Inner Coach that is the rational and wise part of us. This is the part you want to be speaking with right now—not your Critic or Rebel—they are the ones that run the good—bad—good cycle. Get your coach and get real about what happened. “I just ate three brownies without thinking.” Assess in a non-judgmental way, then solve the problem. Shifting like this puts your mind in a rational state rather than an impulsive and emotional one.
- Assess and recover: Whatever you ate, you can move on from and recover, it will be much better for you and your waistline than keeping on eating.
For example: I had a client who went to a Christmas Party and felt like she overate and was about to say “I blew it—so screw it” but she stopped herself took a breath and reviewed the items that she overate. She realized that even though the two cookies and the couple of handfuls of chips were not what she intended to eat they also were not going to ruin her waistline or even her weight loss for the week it she got right back to her healthy eating at the next meal.
MIND HACK #4: PUT A FIREWALL BETWEEN YOU AND THE CARB ZOMBIE
Challenge: Overindulging in Sugary, Fatty and Salty Foods Wakes Up Our Inner Carb Zombie
One of the challenges with the densely caloric, sugary and fatty foods that abound during the holidays is that eating too many refined carbohydrates over a number of days tends to awaken a craving/fake hunger force within us that begins to demand more carby food. I call this force THE CARB ZOMBIE.
Physically eating higher amounts of refined foods spike our blood sugar and when it crashes we get a feeling of being hungry—even though we may have just eaten! The sugar, fat, and salt dances in our head like the sugar plum fairy –stimulating our reward neurotransmitter dopamine and creating a mental craving to have more sugary foods.
When our carb zombie is awakened we:
- Feel hungrier even though we are eating plenty of calories
- Crave more refined foods—thinking about food a lot more
- Feel like an addict
Solution: Create a Firewall Between You and Carb-y Food for the Holiday Season
Our mind does much better when it is focusing on doing something rather than resisting something. “Trying not to eat sugar” seems hard to the mind—but abstaining from sugary foods except for a few special specified holiday treats gives the mind a clear boundary without shutting down the idea of treats altogether.
- Create a “not an option clause” in your mind for all holiday foods except the few selected A+++ holiday treats that you will enjoy in modest amounts after a meal. Haven’t we tried all of those holiday foods before anyways—enjoy the memories of the holidays and the pleasure of the season—you don’t have to eat to enjoy—in fact you will enjoy more when you eat less.
- Eating enough protein 70 grams per day—also helps balance the amino acids in the brain responsible for allowing us to feel stable and even keeled—less vulnerable to the carb zombie. Start your day with protein like eggs or Greek yogurt with fruit and not the carby bun or roll. You will feel better and have more energy. If you are doing a smoothie—make sure it has protein!
- Eat your holiday treats after a meal or when you have some protein n your tummy. Eating sugar and starch on an empty stomach triggers the brain and body both—stirring the carb zombie from his slumber. We want to keep him in deep hibernation this season.
- Listen to the FREE Curb Your Sugar Cravings Hypnosis session: This session helps wire your deeper subconscious mind to be more resistant to the idea that sugar is a treat—learn to be in charge of your relationship to sugar.
MIND HACK #5: HIT YOUR “MENTAL REFRESH” KEY EVERY FEW HOURS
Challenge: Stress Shuts Down Our Willpower
Our lives are very stimulating. The holiday season is stimulation on steroids. When we get over stimulated our mind gets stressed. When we get stressed the hormone Cortisol floods our system shutting down our rational neo cortex –the impulse control part of our brain. Guess what also happens when we are stressed—we reach for food to soothe ourselves and there is no willpower there to stop us.
Research shows that every two hours we need to give our mind a little break or we become overstressed and overwhelmed.
Solution: Hit Refresh By Taking a Deep Breath and Closing Your Eyes For a Minute
Give yourself the gift of self-soothing every two hours this holiday season. It won’t take long, you will feel better and chances are you will become a lot more mindful when it comes to those mindless nibbles at the office and home.
- Take a deep breath
- Shut your eyes
- Tune into your breathing and count 20 breaths
- As you are counting send breaths to any part of your body that feels like it is holding tension
- Open your eyes and enjoy your lighter, more mindful, holiday season.
There you have your 5 Mind Hacks. I hope that they serve you well. Don’t forget to get your FREE copy of the “Curb Your Sugar Cravings” hypnosis session.
Have an amazing mindful and healthy holiday where the sweetness comes not from sugar but from how sweet you are to yourself.
Happy Healthy Holidays to you all!
Oxox Rita Black
Alone we Diet
Together we Shift