This Runner's Trials

Embrace, don't fear, the holiday cheer

Welcome to December. It feels like just yesterday I was complaining about the seemingly unending heat. Time, you sure do fly.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is affectionately known as the eating season. And it’s true. To me, the holidays are about devouring goodies just as much as they’re about spending time with loved ones.

On holiday weight gain


And obviously you- or most of you- agree. I mean, don’t we hear people cry all the time that they gained 5 or 10 lbs. over the holidays?

Clearly, most of those people are exaggerating. But there is slight merit to these complaints. Most of us pack on an entire pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. (source)

Stop reading now if you think this post is going to be chock-full of tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain. Quite the contrary, my friends.

Instead of depriving myself, I prefer to enjoy the eating season to its fullest. For me, the pumpkin pie, gingerbread men, eggnog, and other holiday treats are worth the one pound weight gain.

It amazes me how wrapped up we can get in our waistlines. For example, shall we look at this conversation I had with my nameless friend the other day?

Me: Hi Nameless, how was your Thanksgiving?

Nameless: Good, but I ate SO much. I am so disgusting and fat. I gained 3 lbs.

Me: No you didn’t. It’s water weight and you’ll be back to normal in a few days.

Nameless: No, I won’t. I need to get my eating under control now or else I’ll gain 10 lbs. by New Year’s!

Me: No, you won’t.

Nameless: Yes, I will. I would be a blimp if I gained 10 lbs. It would be horrible.

Me: Clearly, the worst thing in the world.

Nameless: Right?! I’m going on a diet. I will lose these 3 lbs. plus 5 more by New Year’s.

Me: I’m glad we live in different states…

Nameless: Why?

I mean seriously, who would you rather be? The girl who deprives herself of all festive goodies and maintains her waistline? Or the girl who indulges in plates and glasses of holiday cheer and puts on a single pound?

Of course, I’m not saying the holidays are a reason to throw all healthy eating habits and exercise routines to the wind until January 1. But for many of us, reasonably indulging is good for the mind, and not so bad for the body.

You better believe I’m going to own that extra pound. Watch out, snow-dusted cookies and peppermint sticks. I’m coming for you ;)

If you don't share my beliefs, that's fine. Just do me a favor, and don't whine to your friends :)

How do you approach holiday eating? Do you indulge without borders, within reason, or not at all? Honestly, I always go way overboard but keep up my exercise routine so it’s never too big of a deal.

Comments (36) Trackbacks (1)
  1. I would like to show moderation with the treats, but it is so worth any weight gained for the cookies and cakes around Christmas time. I think planning to start marathon training around then, too, helps :-)

  2. Like you, I maintain my exercise routine and eat for enjoyment. At parties and gatherings, I have some of anything that appeals to me. It’s typically the alcohol that I keep watch over because I simply hate feeling dehydrated and headache-y…or needing a designated driver!

    Everything really ends up balancing out because a night of cookies and mashed potatoes usually makes me crave a better breakfast. Bring on the holidays!

  3. Same–I try to keep up my exercise routine during the holidays, but if I don’t make it to the gym or on a run, then I don’t get too upset. I try to indulge just in the stuff I *really* like, rather than just eating all the goodies in front of me.

  4. I have to approach the holidays (…and all special occasions) with caution. I allow myself to indulge for the day or the event but then I make myself get back to normal eating pretty quickly. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve been the girl who ate everything in sight and I’ve been the girl who didn’t eat birthday cake on my own birthday. I think I’m starting to find a balance that works for me…slowly.

  5. couldn’t agree more. i think the holiday season is about embracing the period of time to spend with family and friends with 3 holidays so close together. i try not to dwell on my eating and fitness too much and not let the season get lost in the materialistic

  6. I’m with you! Some of us certainly create lots of (unhealthy) anxiety about holiday weight gain. I only get annoyed at myself when I eat beyond the point of enjoyment (usually mindless or stress eating), but I would never feel bad about some extra butter, sugar and cookies for a month! If I’m going to enjoy myself over the holidays by eating the treats I love, I’m not going to ruin the fun by feeling guilty about it. One or two pounds is not something I stress about. Thanks for this! I’m sick of hearing about avoiding holiday weight gain!!

  7. I am totally the same as you…I enjoy the treats! :) And I agree, one pound is sooo worth it :)

  8. My approach is to enjoy the treats and try to up the exercise (if I can). But if there isn’t time I won’t kill myself over it.

    The problem with the 1 pound a year thing for people (general population) is that if it is EVERY year and they do not lose it after the holidays, it could lead to an unhealthy weight over time. This probably doesn’t apply to anyone reading this blog because they are likely runners who don’t keep one extra pound on for long :)

  9. Best post I’ve read in a while. I kind of want to print it out and hang it on the refrigerator at my mostly-all-female office. Seriously, every conversation I’ve had since returning from Thanksgiving has involved someone talking about how much pie/stuffing/gravy/etc. she ate.

    Um, yeah. Because it’s DELICIOUS. Eat up, ladies!

    Thanks for the realistic, healthy approach to the holidays! You rock.

  10. I know that the holiday season is going to be rough for me because I am recovering from restrictive eating. However, this post sort of puts things in perspective.

  11. i love this! and it totally agree. i do feel like while i’m home just living life, i want to get in as many veggies as possible. then when i go to family parties or gatherings of friends i don’t have to feel guilty or worry. it is important to remember that health is a way of life and not just a panic induced diet.

  12. Interesting that most people only gain 1lb. For me, I know that the weekends are when all the parties are, so I just eat really clean during the week, and then have fun on the weekends.

  13. I have been the person who has deprived myself over the holidays and have been miserable and spent more time trying to avoid things. With the result that I missed out on good times with family and friends who I don’t see that often. I have changed and started to realise (with age it must be said) that missing these times are not worth the worry and constant calorie counting. I schdule in a work out each day or two and I also schedule in my treats – the same way I do every day of the year. I will have a mincepie or slice of pudding with a very hot and lovely coffee. For the rest of my meals I try to follow the same principles as including lots of vegetables and water.You are right – it is not at all worth the missing of memories!

  14. I definitely love all the Holiday goodies! I do have to be careful though or I will overeat. I definitely don’t deprive myself, though!! :0) I’m with you on that one! lol The Holidays are not the time to go on a diet! Haha!

  15. Seriously, what is one pound? It is worth it! I really don’t think I gain any weight around holiday seasons. Although I indulge, I stop when I start to feel full…right before that sick feeling of overdoing it. That seems to work for me! I would never deprive myself of enjoying holiday foods.

  16. I usually eat to my heart’s content! …but don’t keep up my exercise routine…
    That’s what I’m going to work on this year because I just feel better when I’m working out. I actually did pretty well over the Thanksgiving holiday & managed to get in some type of physical activity every day – was definitely a nice change!

  17. Wow this post makes me really happy. After a weekend visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday, my husband and I were lamenting our poor diet and how gross and “fat” we felt, but really I think our bodies were just not used to the fatty foods, low fiber, and extra sugar that we consumed. After a few days of eating well and exercising we feel better. Now we both have holiday parties, both of our birthdays, and a few other events this month and we always freak out about gaining weight. This year, I think I’m going to talk to him before the “eating season” starts and say that we will be eat healthy and maintain our normal workout schedule every day, but we should not feel guilty for enjoying the treats of the season!

  18. Great post. I hadn’t heard that 1 lb stat–i thought it was 7lbs. Even still, I like your thinking–1lb or 7–it’s not the end of the world. And if I’m gonna gain weight in a short period of time, I’d rather it cone from delicious holiday treats (almost left the R out of that last word–that woulda been funny).

  19. Love this :)

    I’m actually surprised it’s only a pound! Not to sound negative, but it seems to me like many gain more than that. Like Liz said above, this is a problem if you continually gain the weight every year…or continue the holiday eating mindset well into the new year. BUT, like you so wonderfully pointed out, 1 pound (or even a couple) really is NOT the end of the world. It’s not going to make you a worse person, it’s not going to ruin your holiday, and it’s not something that you can’t get rid of by resuming normal eating/exercising.

    I would so much rather embrace the holiday season and enjoy all the goodies than restrict myself. Yes, sometimes this means I go overboard, though I do try to make that the exception and not the rule (mostly because I don’t like the way it makes me feel). But, honestly, restricting is worse. I get crabby and resentful and totally lose sight of the joy of the season when I’m constantly stressing about overeating. Instead, I just try to continue my normal diet and exercise routine most of the time, and then enjoy the treats when I have them.

  20. Ha, I love this. I know that I often try to find a balance between really enjoying the food and the season, but not letting it get out of hand. Most of the year I don’t have more than 1-2 drinks per week, but around Thanksgiving I just want to have more for no reason. But again, I’d take the 1lb weight gain if it means I got to enjoy all the parties and nights out with friends and family vs staying inside and being a scrooge. :)

  21. I really try to enjoy the holidays and balance out some of the richer foods and indulgences with healthy meals most of the time and make a little extra time for exercise, even if it’s just an extra long walk with my dog. Baking is something I really enjoy, especially at the holidays, so it’s worth it to me to gain a pound or two during this time of year. It’ll come off pretty quickly in January anyway when I get back to my regular routine.

  22. Loved this post and love term “eating season”. I am going to go against the grain here. While I love a little eggnog and ginger bread I don’t really indulge that much over the holidays. I feel if we see the holiday season as weeks of indulgences we consume more than we would just eating mindfully with treats mixed in. The thing is, I don’t feel deprived. If holiday eating is a stop light, I’m going with yellow/ “caution” here.

  23. Such a good post! As someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, the holidays can be fraught with nerves. It doesn’t help when everyone around me says things about how much weight they’re gaining from enjoying the holidays. Everybody needs to be more aware of the messages they’re spreading

  24. I embrace all weight gain. Holiday’s, friends birthday’s, birthday’s of people i don’t even know.. I will gain weight for your nameless friend :)

  25. Amen!!

    This year I’m just trying to eat intuitively. In years past I’ve gorged myself silly and other times I’ve restricted obsessively.

    Now I’m just eating as much as a I want which winds up being a reasonable amount and not feeling guilty about eating pie for breakfast for the 4 days following Thanksgiving.

  26. I really have gained 10 pounds in a month before, so I am taking a more moderate approach this season :) For me, restricting leads to binging, which is how I gained in the first place. I am trying to eat well during the week and letting myself enjoy treats when they present themselves!

  27. I am shocked to realize that this is the first year in a loooong time that I don’t give a flying F if I gain weight during the holidays. I lost over 60 lbs a couple of years ago and was literally afraid to put even one bite of cheesecake in my mouth last year. This year, I learned to stop fearing food (how ridiculous does that sound?) and stopy counting calories. I’ve felt better than ever and, wait for it, have MAINTAINED my weight within + or – 2-3 lbs!

  28. I think this is great! I’m not going to purposely gorge myself until I’m ready to throw up, but I’m also not going to turn down every treat so I don’t gain.
    I like to sample a small taste (or two) of everything, that way I don’t feel like I’m restricting myself, but I also (usually) don’t go overboard :-)

  29. Great dialogue! Wouldn’t it be horrible to be that nagging person? Seriously, why worry now that you will gain 1 pound every holiday season? Is that a realistic way to approach life- no! Spending time with those we love is far more important than our own vanity. Thanks for the reminder as to what the Holidays are really about!!

  30. I love this post! It puts things in perspective perfectly. I think part of the reason its such a talked about topic is that many people eat so unhealthily year round that gaining an extra pound or two is sort of a big deal, because its not only happening during the holidays.

    I attempt to up the exercise a bit, but don’t really stress over it. I am all about enjoying treats at special events and just normally on days where there is nothing going on. Also, I *try* to keep in mind that while my mom’s homemade pumpkin pecan pie is totally worth indulging in, just because things like M&Ms are red and green doesn’t mean they taste any different and might not be worth the extra calories. I’m a bit of a food snob that way but it works for me!

  31. You make SUCH a valid point. I think it’s also about moderation and allowing ourselves to eat sweets. My husband and I eat desert EVERY SINGLE night and I have yet to see extra lbs packed on because of it. This may be due to youth or maybe it’s because I never feel an urge to binge on sweets because I get to eat them every day! :)

  32. Haha! I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time and I loved this post! I am gulity of being the “I ate way too much complainer” from time to time, but this year I actually did let myself indulge..for Thanksgiving anyway since after all, isn’t food what Thanksgiving is all about?! ;) As far as the rest of the holidays, I’m still trying to decide what my approach will be. I have more holiday events/parties on my calendar than I can count so I think SOME restraint will be necessary, but I’m going to try not to get crazy about it and still allow myself to enjoy. I’m kind of treading new waters since at this time last year, I was 25 lbs heavier and couldn’t care less what I put in my mouth. This year will definitely be interesting to say the least…

  33. To me, a little extra work after the holidays is more than compensated by the joy and satisfaction of the holiday indulge. Moderation – yes. Deprivation – absolutely not!

  34. Such a great post and I SO agree with you. I used to be that annoying diet girl in the past….this year I really got a handle of the ridiculous psycho diet mindset and I’ve been able to approach the holiday season like “no big deal” and I’m not overeating, not worrying, not gaining- in fact I’m actually LOSING weight this December!! Life is too short to not find a way to be fit, get fit, stay fit AND ENJOY LIFE!! ;-)

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