The first snowfall always signals the beginning of 'the silly season'. The season's change means the start of the Holidays, the parties - workless days and long nights. And, while we all look forward to it, for many of us, it means the start of the spiral down the rabbit hole of endless drinks, parties and meals, as well as a lack of sleep.
By the time the New Year starts, you're wondering where the last 85 days went and how - among the many gifts Santa left for you under your tree - you somehow also got an extra ten pounds, puffy cheeks, and bags under your eyes.
It starts with Halloween, and that one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, which let's face it, is the literal gateway drug that leads to the “I'll start in January", “It's Thanksgiving", “I have to go to holiday drinks with x, y, and z" nonsense that we kid ourselves with. Every. Single. Year. Before you know it, it's finally the New Year, and you're at the gym twice a day, brunching without your mimosa, convinced you've gained weight everywhere - even your feet, because your new Cole Haan suede loafers aren't fitting right.
It doesn't actually have to be like this though. We don't have to eat every single thing in sight, or attend every single party all in the name of good old Holiday Cheer, and we don't have to sacrifice a good time just so we don't regret it later.
It is still possible to enjoy the Holiday Season without changing our waistlines, and all you need is a few reasonable behavior modifications… if you're still reading, then I guess it's time to change the way you do the holidays forever!
1. Don't skip meals
I know this seems pretty obvious, but people amaze me every time I hear them say, “I have a party tonight, so I'm just going to eat a bar". This is a recipe for disaster. You might as well head out to McDonald's get a Big Mac meal and then grab four slices of pizza on your way home. Your body needs to be fueled properly throughout the day, so you don't overeat at later meals. Eating all your meals and snacks before a night out will most definitely ensure that you'll be able to say no to the pigs in a blanket, and the cookies.
And, because you ate your breakfast, your lunch, and the snacks in between before your holiday party, you'll be able to wait for the entree, without dipping into the appetizers first. You also won't be like my kids, who mainline juice at birthday parties because you've been deprived of food all day (juice is not allowed in my house, so when we go to parties my kids are crackheads for the stuff). Trust me, it's not cute to be shoveling food down your throat because you didn't eat all day and now you can't stop because a few drinks have loosened your willpower.
2. Pace yourself with the alcohol
Again, this seems logical, but hear me out. Strategies for drinking can really allow you to not overdo things, while still being able to enjoy yourself to the full. Anytime I don't have an alcoholic beverage in my hand, someone asks me if I'm pregnant, and I'm like, hello it's Tuesday! So, I know what it's like, but back to you... A way to make sure you don't have the equivalent of eight bottles of wine in a week, as you go from party to party, is to set a pacing rule.
My favorites are to decide not to drink until after dinner has been served, or simply set a time to start drinking. For example, determine not to drink alcohol until 9 PM… by which point everyone will be wasted, it will be too late to catch up, and you end up leaving by 10, relatively sober, and still in a caloric deficit because you took that spin class at lunchtime. And even if it is a late night, or you missed the spin class, you will still have reduced the amount you drank by starting later in the evening.
3. Dessert, or alcohol but not both
You're probably wondering what kind of monster makes you choose between dessert or alcohol? But I'm here to tell you, it's the one who loves you and doesn't want you standing in your towel inside your closet on January 1st with multiple pairs of pants on the floor because they don't quite fit right. I mean, you wouldn't normally have dessert and alcohol every single night, right? So, pretend it's April, the sun has been shining for a few days and you're going to have to wear a skirt and tank top soon. And here's an extra tip for free - when you do eat the dessert, eat three bites only - because all you will remember is the first and last bites anyway.
4. It's OK to say no
Finally, I give you permission to not attend every single event! I know there's that whole FOMO thing, but keeping the events to a maximum of once a week is the easiest way to make sure you don't over do it. Generally, we know the events ahead of time, so planning out where you really want to go ahead of time can help you figure out an excuse to bow out of the events you don't care so much about with enough time to let the hosts know with plenty of notice (manners first of course!). Or, if you simply must go, make an appearance at the beginning, drink a seltzer, and then make your exit before someone breaks out their recorder and starts playing “Joy to the World".
With a little bit of planning and a few choice strategies, you too can enjoy your holiday season to the fullest, without that rude awakening on your first day back to work in January! So, all that remains for me to do is wish you good luck and a very Happy Holidays!
Dr. Victoria Bateman, an esteemed economist best known for her nude protests for gender equality, uses her body as a form of art that serves to challenge the stigma around women's bodies and women's rights, in the world of economics. In March 2018, Bateman attended the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in Brighton stark naked with the word "respect" written across her chest and stomach. Unbashful in delivering her message, Bateman was determined to start a conversation.