8 Hacks to Gain Skills, Not Weight, Over the 4th of July

I never met a holiday menu I didn’t embrace. Like so many of us I was “dieting” (here and there) some of the year, but when a holiday rolled around, out the window the diet went.

Problem is, we celebrate something every month (really every week with large families or coworkers).

Take the 4th of July – in the U.S. – back in the day, you’d find me plowing into potato salad, burgers, ice cream, and you get the cherry pie gist.

By July 5th I’d wake up disappointed and angry with myself. Not only was the beautiful holiday over, but I’d spent the weekend trashing my body too. Nobody “needs” all of those holiday-calories, so back on the horse I’d climb with my former “diet” or something new that was “sure to work.” (Never realizing that nothing “would work” if I didn’t shift my mindset).

Finally, that’s what I did. One year I hit my version of bottom (a serious “win” in the big picture). I was tired of the health problems that come with weight, and didn’t want to live my entire adult life heavy like my kid, teen, and young adult years had been.

I got incredibly serious about losing the weight, and then about maintaining the loss. All the while, I kept notes on what worked, what didn’t and so forth. (Today I keep every new thought, behavior, and skill I learned while losing on my blog, the Inspired Eater.)

I’m 59 years old at the moment, have kept the weight off for 18 years now and am happy to report (stunned more like it) that holidays no longer equal insane eating.

If, like me, you’re ready to emerge from this holiday pleased with yourself (rather than pi***d), take a look at these game-changers.

Hack #1: Tell Norman Rockwell Buh-Bye

For years, I’d attempted to create Norman Rockwell holidays for my family which – as most of us know – always causes major stress (that then led to mindless overeating). It didn’t happen overnight, but I worked to dispel the myth of the “ultimate” holiday. And, as I did, a super helpful quote landed in my lap sealing the deal on my new habit: “Don’t worry about being perfect. Make memories.”

That said, I plan holiday-themed smart food that’s both fun and supportive of my goals like watermelon, strawberries and cherries, corn-on-the cob, and grilled asparagus (almost any veggie splashed with olive oil and sprinkled with a tad salt and pepper is improved by grilling).

Hack #2: Make the Decision

I learned that trying to lose after age 50 cannot be “a wish our heart makes.” We need to make the decision to lose and later to maintain (adding: a wobbly decision is a perfectly fine start). A wish versus a decision are two completely different mindsets (for example, we don’t “wish” for coffee in the morning, we didn’t “wish” our way to a college degree).

Hack #3: Setting Ourselves Up for Success

When facing a holiday while I was losing, I’d plan the food part of my entire 4th of July weekend. My goal was always to maintain my loss. I didn’t expect myself to lose over a holiday. I’d get super granular with an eating plan.

Which parts of Friday night will be challenging? What about Saturday will be tough? How about Sunday? And so on. I even recommend planning the people. Which friend or family member supplies the most drama and write about how you’ll take care of your own anxiety when dealing with this person.

Hack #4: Buy “Smart” Food

I buy smart food that I love for every holiday. Buying food that supports us throughout the weekend is one of the smartest moves we can make. Now is the time to indulge in food we wouldn’t normally spend money on.

The whole idea is to buy food that helps us feel happy and included in the fun. One of my favorites at Trader Joe’s: Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas (find these guys in the center aisle freezer section). They come two to a box, and I eat half of one and call it a meal).

Hack #5: No Boredom Eating

I took a good, long look at how I was eating out of boredom. Here’s how I handled it: along with creating a food plan, I created a step-by-step boredom plan for the weekend too. These days my portal out of boredom is a phenomenal book, an awesome show (Call the Midwife, Mad Men, Mrs. Maisel, The Crown) or a visit to the dog park.

Hack #6: Total Transparency

I’ve never counted fruits when adding up calories or points. For me, fruits are always zero: zero calories, zero points, zero problem. (Except bananas and avocados of course.) My go-to “zeros” in July: cherries and watermelon.

Hack #7: Next-Day-You Matters

Re: Next-day-morning you, what gifts do you want to give her this 4th of July? Journal about what Next-day-morning you most needs from holiday-you and/or long-weekend you. What would really make Next-day-you angry? What would tickle her no-end? What would make her smile and think, I can do this! (That is, maintain smart eating habits after age 50.)

Wear a bracelet, ring or even perfume that represents your goal. It’s there to remind you of Next-day-you.

Hack #8: The Royal Eating Plan

For 18 months now I’ve been guinea pigging myself and am happy to report that one of the best habits I’ve ever imbedded into my heart is an amazing success. It’s called the Royal Eating Plan.

The REP has nothing to do with any royalty. It’s actually about eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a princess and dinner like a pauper. Have I seen progress? Grand Canyon-size progress.

I eat a tiny dinner by 6:30 p.m. and don’t eat again until morning. Stunning results. (Brownies for Breakfast explains it all.)

You and I are short-changing ourselves when we dive into food as the “be-all, end all.” There’s more to the holidays – there’s more to life – than forever sliver-eating leftover desserts.

Hit your version of bottom, make the decision (the wishing is over), keep notes, and join us.

Trust me, you can lose this.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How have you handled the holiday calories in the past? What is the hardest part of sticking to a smart eating plan during the holidays? Do you think you could make a supportive eating plan that would make Next-day-you ecstatic?

Leave a Reply