#55: Why Holiday Weight Gain Is Not a Problem

It’s normal to eat more during the holidays. If you’re fearful about gaining that holiday weight, here’s a suggestion. Lay off the scale and start paying attention to some much more important health metrics. It’s the difference between obsessing over your body and caring for your body, any time of year. Get Michelle’s free tracking spreadsheet: https://ShesGotPower.com/HowIFeel

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Michelle’s pumpkin cheesecake deliciousness
  • Why it’s normal to eat more and gain weight around the holidays
  • Avoiding the blaming and shaming cycle
  • The metrics you should actually pay attention to if you want to keep your body on track, even during the holidays

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It started with the cheesecake

Ever do that thing where there’s some cake left over and you start shaving off little pieces with your fork rather than slicing a real piece for yourself and putting it on a plate?

Before you know it, it looks like a squirrel got to the cake. It’s all ripped up and it’s a lopsided mess and you’ve eaten way more than you intended.

Well, that happened to me after Thanksgiving. You’ll understand when I explain this pumpkin cheesecake I made — it had graham cracker pecan crust and a homemade caramel sauce on top! It was so, so good, so I was doing that thing with my fork on the side of it. Finally, I gave in and just sliced off a whole piece and ate it.

Right then, I had a choice. I could berate myself for enjoying that cake for the second day in a row. I could go weigh myself to drive the point home. I could add in extra exercise to offset it and punish myself.

Or I could just enjoy it. And I could take a tiny slice of the chocolate flourless cake that was also leftover and also really good. So that’s what I did. I had a piece of chocolate cake, too.

Allowing permission to enjoy food

It’s normal to eat more around the holidays. Food is part of the celebration. Food is part of the tradition. Food is part of how we connect with each other.

Food can be so delicious. Enjoy it! It’s normal.

In fact, in the winter months, it is normal for our bodies to crave heavier foods. Who wants to eat a pumpkin cheesecake in the middle of August? Not me.

It’s also normal for your weight to fluctuate. It’s okay if you’re up a little, down a little. It’s going to change tomorrow anyway. That’s how the human body is. You’re not going to be the same number of pounds every day throughout the year. You’re not a robot.

Holiday weight gain is temporary

Sometimes we feel heavy or bloated, but that’s more of a digestion issue than actual weight gain. Eating different foods means that we might get constipated. We might be more gassy than usual. Our bellies might feel full because they are!

Maybe things aren’t moving and all of this resolves itself quickly when we don’t get stuck in a blaming and shaming cycle. We just enjoy the food and then go back to eating and moving like we usually do. We go back to work and get back to our normal routine. Even between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are weeks when we’re not just sitting around eating pumpkin cheesecake anymore.

Then once it’s all over in January, same thing, we’re going to go back to normal. In the meantime, I know I weigh more than I did a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m still totally able to celebrate the holidays. In fact, I’ve been really enjoying them. We’re still able to be there for our loved ones. We’re still able to have fun, right? It doesn’t change our ability to do any of this stuff.

Overcoming the fear of gaining weight

So here’s a thought: who cares? Weight is only one way to measure our health, but it’s not really the most reliable way and it can be super triggering.

To help you get away from the scale, I put together a tracking spreadsheet that you can use to measure what I would consider much more helpful metrics. It’s a tool I use with all of my clients, and it’s available for free at ShesGotPower.com/HowIFeel.

I can almost hear somebody saying, “Hey Michelle. The problem with the holidays is that I gain weight, but I never lose it.” Or, “What if I never lose it?”

Let’s explore that fear. Would the world fall apart?

I’ve been really interested in the “Health at Every Size” movement. It seems like collectively, as a culture, we are moving towards body acceptance in a way that I have never seen before, and I really, really like it.

Worrying about the way that our bodies look takes up so much mental energy. It’s a huge stressor, and I don’t know about you, but I would rather you put that energy toward something else like studying for an exam, building your business, running for local office, getting a promotion at work, or maybe just taking the day off to do nothing except read a novel in peace. I’d rather you do anything other than obsess about your body and food, which is so counterproductive.

How to measure your health without a scale

I was talking to a client of mine, and she said she’s happy with the size of her body. She feels cute in a swimsuit, even though this is the most that she’s ever weighed. The problem is that she’s having trouble tying her shoes because she can’t reach her feet, and she would love to book a trip to the Caribbean with her family and wear that swimsuit. But she just doesn’t have the energy.

She loves to play sports, but lately, her joints hurt too much, even when she’s just walking, so she can’t do the things that she loves.

Here’s where I want to draw a distinction. There is a difference between gaining some holiday weight because you, like me, enjoyed some extra cake, and noticing that you’re not able to live life the way you want to. If your energy is sluggish, your body is too achy, you can’t move freely, there’s brain fog, anxiety, depression. These things all go together with or without weight. And that is what I want you to pay attention to always.

Particularly over the holidays, pay attention not to how your jeans fit, but how you feel day in and day out. How’s your energy? How is your mood? Are you able to move and laugh and live the way that you want? Are your relationships fulfilling?

These are some of the powerful metrics I use to measure good health for myself and for my clients, because it’s always helpful to look at measurements on anything that you’re trying to improve. We can do that without a scale.

Track your own non-scale victories

To help you track your own metrics, I’ve put together an easy spreadsheet for you to use once again at ShesGotPower.com/HowIFeel. It’s easy to use. It’s going to help you focus on what matters most this holiday season or really any time of year.