The holidays have already landed and there’s more to come. They began with a plethora of candy at Halloween and continued with mounds of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and an extra helping of pumpkin pie on everybody’s favorite Thursday of the year.

Faster than you can say “ho ho ho,” glazed Christmas hams and gingerbread men will be marching themselves into mouths everywhere. Not so coincidentally, this time of year is met with expanding waistlines and the accompanying guilt. The latter part, at least, ought to be avoided.

Overindulgence is never a good thing, even if it is from grandma’s cooking, so I would never tell anybody to lose all self-control and wantonly eat everything in sight. Eating smart is always the better option. However, it would be naive to think the occasional excess doesn’t happen, particularly in the holiday season. Even personal trainers have difficulty ignoring the allure of homemade pie.

It is natural, then, that a few pounds get added to the scale during this time of the year. The pounds don’t have to be permanent. One thing that can really have a negative impact on losing the extra weight, though, is guilt over their existence.

Guilt is a negative emotion negativity is counterproductive to achieving positive results. The more negative a person is about their condition, the less likely they are to change it. This doesn’t mean you have to love weight to lose it. It just means that beating yourself up about it is almost a sure guarantee that it won’t go anywhere very easily.

Something that happens quite frequently as a knee-jerk response to added pounds is to go into a starvation cycle. The idea is that dropping to super low calorie intake is going to drop weight because calorie output will still be happening.

Calorie deficits only work when adequate calories are still being taken in. As soon as calorie consumption drops below a healthy level, weight loss slows down and can even stop altogether.

Amazingly enough, the body doesn’t like to starve. It’s response, therefore, when too few calories are coming in, is to slow down the metabolism and conserve calories. When the metabolic rate slows down, the fat stays where it’s at.

Additionally, starving oneself can lead to binge eating to compensate for the constant hunger. Now you are adding bouts of increased calorie consumption with a slowed metabolism. Instead of losing weight, more fat is gained. That, in turn, leads to more guilt and more starvation. It becomes a cycle.

Rather than guilting yourself into a vicious cycle of self-loathing, chronic dieting and a lack of genuine weight loss, ditch the negativity right from the get-go.

Understand that weight has been gained, but it is not the end of the world. Then set reasonable goals for shedding unwanted pounds. Reduce calorie consumption within reason, so that in any given week, one or two pounds is the maximum weight lost. In three months that can mean as much as 24 pounds have been lost. Losing weight that way is sustainable and the weight is much more likely to stay gone.

Through the entire process stay positive. Positive thoughts mean positive progress. As you plan, engage the plan and reassess the plan, continue to dwell on the benefits you are achieving and reasons behind your move to a healthier weight.

When stepping on the scale or looking in the mirror, do not think about how much weight remains to be shed or the problem areas that still exist. Instead, find the positive and rejoice in the weight that has been lost and the fact that there is less of you looking back from the mirror than there used to be.

After finding the positive, hold that in mind as your reward. Rewarding thoughts are much better for the mind and body than reward meals that can set you back and give you the boost needed to keep to the healthy path.

Holidays come with a lot of food and excess inches on the waistline. It’s almost inevitable. Try to make good choices during the festive season, but don’t beat yourself up for arriving at the end with excess mass. Rather than guilt, be positive and set goals to get back on track.

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Chris DeLeon
Chris DeLeon is The Criterion's news editor for the 2017/2018 academic year and a certified personal trainer and military veteran. He is in his second year at CMU, working towards a bachelor of science degree in exercise science before going towards a doctorate in physical therapy. Chris began writing seven years ago but recently brought his love of the written word to journalism.

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