Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 11 Day Survival Plan (or how to keep Christmas from becoming a metaphorical cruise ship)

I'm getting ready to wrap things up at the office and get prepared for 11 days of rest and recuperation before our traditional January weight loss jam fest.  As it is for most people, the 11 days of Christmas (or 12 in some cultures) can be a perilous time.  One way to think of it is the statistic that people gain an average of 7 pounds on a cruise.  Does this also apply to 10 cold days in Connecticut, stuck inside with a buffet in the form of a refrigerator?  Possibly.

So as not to have another Thanksgiving weekend holiday train wreck, I am going to try to go in with a rational plan this time around.  So here I go (red marks BIG FUN/Bad Food days):

  • Day 1 (Wed Dec 23):  Have a healthy breakfast.  Have a healthy lunch.  Spend time with family in the city doing the big Christmas thing, and pre-select my select my dinner options from restaurant menu on the internet.  And have a huge workout.    
  • Day 2 (Christmas Eve):  Keep it together for breakfast and lunch.  Have a huge workout.  Abandon hope for Christmas Eve dinner at friend's house.  Choose not to have remorse.  
  • Day 3 (Christmas Day):  No exercise.  Rich food.  Candy.  etc. etc. etc.  Choose not to have remorse.
  • Day 4/5 (Boxing Day and Day After Boxing Day):  I've never celebrated Boxing Day before, but why not?  Spending the weekend away with DSW.  Will plan to get workouts in (probably not huge ones) to mitigate some of the damage.  Not planning to be perfect this weekend.
  • Day 6-8 (Mon-Wed):  Exercise like a maniac.  Live like a cold-hearted Puritan for all breakfasts and lunches.  Keep it sane for dinner.  Seek to avoid stealing candy from my children.  
  • Day 9 (New Years Eve):  Big workout again.  Keep it sane for breakfast/lunch.  Behave poorly New Years Eve.
  • Day 10 (New Years Day):  Rub temples gently.  Get a big workout.  Keep it pretty normal for a Saturday.
  • Day 11 (Sunday):  Back on plan.  

** Additional consideration:  I will give myself bonus points if I can avoid the temptation to graze betwixt meals, particularly on BIG FUN days.

Predicted damage:  I am conservatively forecasting about 8 to 10 meals not on program and roughly 24 meals on program.  This translates into about 27% indulgence rate, which seems manageable for a young(ish) man on maintenance.  Hopefully, 10 days of solid exercise will also be a mitigating factor.  All-in-all, my plan feels fun/pretty relaxed while also unlikely to cause massive self-loathing and regret when it is all over.  Unlike going on a cruise.

I'm planning on giving myself at least a few days before I get my weigh-in.  If I were a betting man, I would put my post-vacation weight at about 3-4 lbs above goal.  I am already planning to spend January working back down to fighting weight.  I really don't want to have to start paying to go to my Weight Watchers meetings.

Happy Holidays!!!



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ask not, give not

It's December 13, there are only 12 days to Christmas, and I have not had a single holiday cookie, handful of caramel popcorn, or slab of holiday chocolate.  Discipline?  No.  Lack of supply is more accurate.  

I'm not sure if it's the economy or a more health conscientious world, but our office no longer gets deluged with holiday treats by various vendors, partners and friends.  There was a time that the middle of December would result in mountains of food being stacked up on seemingly every available horizontal surface in and around our offices.  I have to admit that I always found it a little bit amusing for a vendor or partner to say happy holidays to their friends at Weight Watchers with chocolate/cookie/cheese gift basket the size of a small car.   I also have to admit that I often lacked the discipline not to wade through the heaps of treats.  

This year, not one ounce of holiday food has been sent to any office within a 100 foot radius of my office.  Either that or the recipients are hoarding.  In either case, I've been safe from temptation, and as a result, I have successfully avoided one of my primary December food downfalls.  So to all you Scrooge-like partners on behalf of my waist circumference:  THANK YOU!!!!    

Thinking about this also prompted me to take a look in the mirror to assess my own sabotaging hypocrisies.  Historically, I have usually assumed the role of stocking stuffer for my house.  What I lack in gift giving imagination, I make up for in recognizing that people like sweets.  There is nothing wrong with giving some, but why load up the sock with 4-5 pounds of the stuff?  So this year I won't.  

All of this is very good, but it also raises a question.  Are we taking all of the fun out of the holidays by being so bloody conscientious?  Watching the new Christmas Carol movie with my family a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the time held tradition of eating and being merry on Christmas (my holiday of choice).  Am I turning into a health-freak Ebenezer Scrooge?  Wasn't the Grinch the guy who stole all of the holiday food and tried to ruin Christmas for the Who's?  

The answer always seems to come back to moderation and duration.  It is worth noting that Bob Cratchit came back to work the day after Christmas (albeit with kind of a self-inflicted head ache).  The Who's celebrated and feasted on Christmas day.  There was no indication that it was a week-long Bacchanalian bender.  Therefore, would it not make sense to seek to match the quantity of treats given to the approximate duration of the holiday?  

In summary, I (Santa) will happily include a reasonable dose of chocolate in the stocking mix, just not a ton of it.  BTW, I hope I get some too.  Either that or I can at least count on some zero-POINTS lumps of coal.  

Sunday, December 6, 2009

There is nothing wrong with having nice friends

Following my tumultuous Thanksgiving eating weekend, I boldly (maybe even cockily?) proclaimed that I would get back on track.  And I did!  Gosh I'm awesome!

I may be awesome for other reasons (it would be great if someone could please affirm this), but getting back on plan hardly constitutes one of them.  I certainly feel good about getting the old tracker out (in this case, my iPhone), but it is hardly worthy of an outpouring of accolades and laud.  In truth, it really was not very hard, and I really did not have to sacrifice anything.  I just fell back into the familiar patterns of the foods and activities that have begun to constitute the way I live these days.

I do not mean to diminish the difficult of getting back on track after four days of Nero-esque eating.  There have certainly been times in my life that this lapse would have resulted into a six week deep dive into semi-gluttonous indulgence.  I think this would have particularly been the case if I was in the midst of first losing my weight when my now familiar healthier habits would have been far from formed.

What feels different now is the simple recognition I have that I do not feel that I live a life a deprivation and monk-like lifestyle.  This past week, I hovered around 30 to 35 POINTS per day of food intake and maybe 6-8 activity POINTS as buffer on the other side of the ledger (for my size and being at maintenance, this kind of math works more than adequately for me).  Most importantly, I did not spend the week feeling hungry, miserable and/or stressed.  I now have an armory of meal choices that keep my own hungry monster(s) at bay.  Even better, I like the way my new meals taste, and I have not had to relinquish my love of eating.

Thinking about this has led me to question the craziness of unbridled indulgence vs. healthy eating.  In both states, the food tastes good, but I cannot say that the indulgent foods really taste that much better (either that or I have developed a taste for the healthier foods).  Truth be told, I like a nice piece of grilled fish as much as any steak I have ever eaten.  While nasty calorie bomb meals might look more appealing prior to mouth insertion, they almost always make me feel worse afterwards, physically and mentally.  If this is true, why do I categorize a massive hamburger and fries meal as a "treat" and a healthier meal as part of a "regimen"?  Why do I put ice cream up on a pedestal, and relegate fruit to the ranks of infantry?  Are my old weakness foods really such great friends or are they really a small army of Eddie Haskell's?  

I suppose the answers are enormously more complex than I seem to be suggesting here.  If I were to gather a stable of psychotherapists and neuroscientists, I suspect that they could offer me a wide variety of seemingly plausible and likely complicated explanations.  For personal and professional reasons, I find this subject personally fascinating and worthy of future exploration.  For right now, I think I can safely say that the the ultimate answer is that my supposed love of hamburgers and ice cream is all in my head.

I will try to remember this as I continue to steer into Christmas festivities.  I will try to remember that my new food friends are true (and fun/smart/attractive) friends, while my old food friends were kind of delinquents.  They were fun to hang out with at the time, but it really is time for me to move on.