After Holiday Weight Gain Blues

23 01 2010

The End of Old Habits Are Near. Let Life Begin

Another year has gone by with all the Holiday décor and cheer with it.  I understand some of you had a tough time with the food choices and amount that you consumed.  And with this being said, should I dare say some of you are not only bummed out after you stepped on the scales, you are blue with depression.  This I understand and can definitely empathize.  The way I see it, you can continue to feed those screaming fat cells telling your stomach and brain it needs more, or you can deny them.  I know, easier said than done.  Cutting back after consuming all those rich foods will be the hardest thing you’ll do to get control of your weight for the New Year.  I also understand with the passing of the old year and in with the new, maybe last year’s resolutions to lose weight didn’t work out so well.  I’ve got to tell you; “don’t be so hard on yourself.”  There are many reasons weight gain occurs and I would never tell you I know what you are going through.    So many of us, when we get stressed, or traumatic change occurs in our lives, causes much long-term depression as well as over consumption of food.  Many at some point in time are at great risk of this prolonged weight gain habit being triggered during the Holiday season.  Because with the Holiday’s many emotions are triggered that can also set the stage leading to depression. 

Unfortunately too many of us deal with depression by consuming too much comfort food and drink.  After the consumption of too much rich food we get upset, frustrated and finally depressed about our weight because we don’t know why we can’t control this habit.  There is also an illness-disease cause and effect relationship that complicates controlling weight once we become obese.  At this point the mind-body “can” becomes susceptible to greater illness-disease risk.  For example, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), congenital heart disease, fibromyalgia, phantom pain, etc.  Over eating for many years will cause much discourse and depression in one’s life which complicates weight management, mood, and pain picture, relationships we have with people and life goals. 

Although I’ve written many articles revolving around depression, fitness and pain management, I have not written an article with regard to food habit & depression relationship triggers.   In general, stressful life events cannot be avoided in life but can be minimized by understanding the stress triggers and food consumption patterns.”  Regardless of season, or any day for that matter, you must learn to change behavior and habits to take control of your weight goals and develop better stress coping skills.  These skills can be greatly improved through healthy food consumption, relationship associations (behavioral food trigger habits), activity and exercise.  Learn to realize the stress triggers and substitute healthy food and activity as a stress reducer, i.e., walk-window shop, read a good book, call a friend, eat organic, or Mediterranean diet etc.  Whatever you do, don’t go to the fridge or quick mart and have a binge session.  This habit is very hard to stop.  Seek professional help if depression lasts longer than 14 days or frequently returns and/or if you become obese as a result of your habits and can’t stop them. 

Holiday’s and weight gain relationship is something I understand and have worked to avoid during this eventful time of period.  And I know the screaming fat cells will get over themselves once one gets back to a normal routine after the festivities pass.  But all too often, it is too easy to continue the party into the New Year, or look to celebrate every weekend.  Don’t fall into this trap.  To carry this habit into one year and then the next is really unhealthy and depressing as I know you may be aware. 

Alright, I know I said “don’t be so hard on yourself,” and “I would never tell you I know what you are going through…”  However, there is a difference with cheerful event weight gain and short-term depression versus long-term weight gain and depression.  One is short lived and the other is not!  For a few, I would say your weight gain unfortunately may be due to a metabolic defect of the thyroid, or pancreas for example, in which case you require a physician’s treatment.  Any long-term weight gain that has become an unhealthy condition putting you at risk for more illness, disease, depression and pain requires a physician consultation and treatment!  However, there is no reason not to pursue changing your life style to fit habits that incorporate specialized medical treatment and advisement from your physician. 

I now present 8 prominent weight gain blues and depression habits people get themselves into and don’t necessarily know how to resolve the weight gain quagmire throughout the year.  Below I have listed eight hard to break weight gain problematic habits that need to be realized before successful long-lasting health benefits occur.  It is the hope that by exposing habit/behavior relationships, one can change these unhealthy habits into healthy habits that are enjoyable.  

 8 Prominent Weight Gain Blues Behavioral/Habits that Require Change,

  1.  Holiday Cheer Weight Gain – What can I say about Holiday Cheer Weight Gain that I haven’t mentioned in my previous writings.  Have a Holiday battle meal plan before you set down at the table.  Read the following article, “Holiday Weight Management Tips.”
  2.  Last Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Failed – You know why you failed your weight loss program from previous years.  You did not resolve, or change your behavioral eating, drinking, or fitness habits.  To do so is still too painful for you for whatever the reason.  As I stated, “I will not pretend to know what you are going through…”  Until you can resolve and/or get serious about your weight loss/depression, or seek professional help, my fitness tips will fall on deaf ears.
  3.  Pain factor – All pain is directly related to illness, disease and/or injury.  And with pain comes more sedentary type activity.  It is for this reason, it is more important than ever you work with your primary physician and pain management specialists to find activities that you can do safely.  Also visit mirror athlete chronic pain center for other tips and recommendations.  All pain disorders are different and require customized fitness specialization in order to work around and prevent pain trigger aggravations, or worsen pain disorders.  It is for this reason you become proactive to find a fitness activity that you can participate in daily while pain managing with your physicians.
  4.  Stressful life events and comfort food – For many the trigger to eat comfort foods stems from everyday stress factors such as:  Work, bills, health, relationship, family issues, etc., the list goes on.  Stressful daily events can culminate into major depression and poor eating habits (these two things often go hand in hand).  This is a duel health hazard (impacts mental/physical) that effects millions of Americans causing the national obesity and ill-health mental crisis for our children as well.  We get so stressed out over our fast paced lives we can’t foresee how we could ever squeeze time in the day to maintain our overall fitness and healthy eating habits.  Then you tell yourself, I’ll take care of it later.  You must find time before, or after the day’s end to participate in a healthy fitness activity to thwart off daily stress and increase overall fitness levels.  Good diet and activity practices are important for the entire family where healthy habits is essential to establish early on in life and critical for good health “especially” as we age.    For example, my daily fitness activity is walking.  I also mix up the fitness activities with swimming at the local fitness center, light weights and other aerobic equipment.  My fitness habit is mid-day; although it was 5:30am and 12:00pm for many of my working years.  This habit for me reduced stress depression, built self-esteem, controlled my weight, and alleviated pain disorders while keeping the body fit.  I know AM routine seems tough at first, but become an addictive habit if you give it a try for a couple of weeks.  For most, I don’t recommend an after workout fitness habit unless it’s walking.  The stressful day will make the fitness habit seem like pulling teeth for which one will not adhere for a long period of time.  For instance, walking provides much less stressful and more relaxing with your spouse, kids, dogs in hand, etc., where stressful issues can be discussed into reasonable solutions and making better relationships.  I highly recommend mixing it up with after work walks and every other day morning fitness activity.  Look for weekend activities with family, e.g., hiking, camping, boating, walking the beach, visit historical places, etc. I promise you’ll get healthier while improving family relationships.
  5.  Carry the party into New Year – Some carry the end of year festivities into the New Year.  This behavior can last for months.  For many through the entire New Year.  The festive mood appears to keep your depression at bay while keeping you preoccupied with comfort eating, drinks and cheer with friends.  The basketball and baseball season is loaded with reason for bi-weekly celebration.  “First and foremost, you must understand this is occurring and must break this bad habit!”  It is not bad to watch sports, of course this may vary in opinion with your significant other as time is spent on viewing other than bonding.”  However, to continue the party festivities for weeks and months in over consumption indulgence will only drag on the inevitable weight gain and depression blues that accompanies this jovial behavior after the party. Although jovial is enjoyable and relaxing, too much of anything can be a bad recipe for disaster.  As we age and continue this type of lifestyle behavior, weight will pack on and become harder to lose creating many health risks.  If you’re hanging onto this habit and want to change, incorporate a plan to change using my recommendations here, or review anyone of my articles to assist in your weight management control and lifestyle change goals.
  6.  Fast foods after the Holiday’s rush continues. Too many Americans consume fast foods especially during the Holiday rush.  Here lies a crux for the American obesity problems.  During the Holiday’s everyone is in a rush to get the shopping done for gifts, Holiday meals and travel.  During this time there is a huge spike in fast foods and alcohol.  This is greatly reflected through our stock markets and retail purchases.  Yes, business booms almost in every sector of the economy, especially, retail, fast foods and spirits.  Let’s focus on fast foods.  Fast foods are convenient, chemically addictive and bad for your health in the long run.  Both fast food and drink easily bind one into an addictive habit that is hard to break if continued too long.  I’ve watched too many people throughout my life not understand the addiction, weight gain and ill health results from fast foods.  Most that continue the fast food habit don’t even realize this is creating their weight gain problem.  All too often after obesity strikes so does illness and disease.  If you are eating out more than once per week, this could very well be your weight gain problem.  I know, you’re thinking, what if I just give up the fast food places and eat out at restaurants?  While this is a better concept, you don’t know how much of the meals are preprocessed and then served, even in fine dining establishments.  Also, when you eat out most tend to eat more.  Instead of eating out, develop a healthy active habit of shopping for more organic type foods and preparing your own meals.  I highly recommend you read my article, “Restaurant Foods Healthy?
  7.  Love of Baking – I know, some of you carry your new found baking creativity and consumption habits into the New Year.  Although there is nothing wrong with healthy food baking habits, the pitfall is when you love everything you bake just a little too much.  I know the kids love your baking treats and it’s hard not to make cookies, cakes and pies after the Holidays.  Remember moderation with deserts.  Too much sugar, fats and salts are not good for anyone, even kids with fast metabolisms.  If you’re having a tough time with moderation of baking because of whatever is tugging at your apron, try changing up the desert menu a little.  Try to be creative with other types of deserts if the sweet tooth bug just won’t stop.  Try fruits-veggie tray, jello, pudding, etc.  Mix it up and break away from the continuous baking habit.  If you continue baking from one New Year into the next because you are the one that lacks the will power to balance this activity, I highly recommend you read the following article if you want to take back your weight control goals, “Will Power Weight Loss Secrets.”
  8.  Empty Nester’s Bake for an Army – Regardless of season, there are many empty nest couples that continue baking for their entire family after the children have left home.  There are many things tied into this habit which makes this pattern particularly tough to break, especially for those that want to take control of their weight.  And this is an especially tough feat if one wants to change the habit and the husband for example demands dinner meals that require traditional family recipes.  This is a tough to break psyche-food habit relationships for many empty nest couples.  For example, check out some of the tough relational habits after years of lifestyle practice:  Family dinners and social event food comforts; recipe serving portions equate to taste; favorite dishes tied to child personality, family traditions.  You continue to cook huge portions, eat bigger portions and/or store more.   The activity habit of hording food through continuous shopping may be a stress reliever as a form of social & physical activity.  You store excess foods in preparation for when family members visit.  You continue to invite your children and their children over for frequent mid-week and weekend meals.  You celebrate annual Holiday events to include sports playoffs with big meals whether family is there or not.  I could go on and on with this, but I think you get the picture.  Many empty nesters lived for their children where their food storing, preparation, celebration and eating habits were based on full house functionality.  As I stated, this is a tough habit to break but can be done.  If you fall into this category, you first must realize what you are doing and work to change this habit if weight loss and thwarting the blues and weight loss is your goal.  If you feel the need to change your traditional cooking habits into a healthy activity with your significant other…  Learn to cook Mediterranean type recipes, etc., and get exercise by walking to the local market to get the ingredients.  You will also have to learn to mix in your families favorite dish recipes, but modified to servings of two, three, four…   Also, make a huge effort to get in daily walks whether it’s coupled with a healthy walk meal shopping effort.  The idea is to get more activity and eat a healthier diet in proper proportions.  Walk to your local library, and pick up a healthy recipe books and/or look to take a Mediterranean, or low calorie healthy cooking class.  Consider previous MAE articles and apply this information to your lifestyle.  Visit Mirror Athlete’s health repository for other healthy habit weight loss and management tips and recommendations files under weight, holiday, depression and diet.

 After the Holiday’s it can be easy to get into a pattern of never ending “feel good binge eating habits” for whatever the reason and carried into the next New Year.  Just as any one, or combinations of reasons above apply to your particular weight gain and depression blues scenario through each passing year.  You cannot continue to mask your depression blues through food, year after year because your food habit controls your will power to change.  Once you begin to eat healthy and exercise, your fitness levels improve dramatically.  You’ll have the energy to walk and/or become involved in healthier hobby-exercise activities.  And with this habit change the depression blues will become infrequent to rare. 

 I would just like to end this article by providing a valuable bit of insight.  Too many people don’t understand this food habit relationship and the ill-effects it has on quality living.  The same is also true of natural addictive brain chemical stimulation through a more active life style and the effect it plays on weight loss and mood.  And with this being said, it is sad to say, all too many are now prescribed anti-depression pills to boost serotonin levels in the brain to make us feel better on a daily basis.  This does absolutely, or very little to promote increased activity, changing daily habits and weight management.  There is also known “secondary health risks” that “can/do” occur through long-term use of psychotropic prescriptions.  Instead, it would be wise to consider the natural alternatives in combating obesity and depression through increased activity which will naturally boost serotonin levels for healthy body, mind and soul.  If you now use psychotropic prescriptions to combat depression and it’s further complicating your health goals, please read the following article, “Activate Addictive Healthy Chemicals.”   Do not stop your medication; simply consider incorporating exercise and eating healthier while you work with your doctor.  You may be able to get off the medication, or reduce the dosage dependency, thereby decreasing other serious health risks. 

 Write us about your weight loss success and removing depression from your life.    We’ll publish your New Year’s resolution success story and identify your post with a first name and state you reside in.  Or make a comment in the posting log where this linked article resides in our healthrepository.  Simply email us with how you changed your habits to lose weight and/or thwart the blues and we’ll post for you under this article.  May this year be your year for weight loss success and defeating depression.  Good health to you and your family! 

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.


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2 responses

17 12 2010
Marc Woodard

Holidays do tend to promote the battle of the buldge. However, if you walk daily, at least 30mins 6 times per week during this period, your metabolism will increase and the weight gain will be less severe. Since this is the case, after the Holidays; getting back on your target weight loss plan will not be as difficult otherwise. I like to refer to this as hedging will power with metabolism enhancement. Read After Holiday Weight Gain Blues.

21 12 2010
Clancy Calahan

Guess I’ll have to take note of the tips you’ve provided. I’ve had years of failed weight loss plans. Guess I like my evening and weekend sports events too much. Think I need a less filling beverage, that’s going to be tough. Also, I’m going to have to find a way to turn my taste buds off the wives baked goods. Moderation is key along with exercise, I know. Good article.

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