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Holiday weight gain: Get tough with your diet, says expert

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Weight loss expert shares tips to avoid holiday weight gain.

Steve Siebold, author of “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People” and a ‘mental toughness’ speaker, shares some tips for sticking to your diet during the holidays. According to Siebold, dieting is about mental toughness that includes a good bit of ‘self-talk’, planning ahead and taking personal responsibility for your own health.

Tell yourself it’s ‘all or nothing’: Siebold says “If you are in a committed relationship you wouldn’t cheat on your significant other just one time, so why would you cheat on something as important as your diet?” (Food for thought?)

Expect challenges: Know that the holidays can be challenging and prepare ahead of time with a plan that can help you be compliant.

Look at pictures of lean, sexy people: Post pictures of lean, fit people everywhere. When you’re tempted to cheat on your diet, look at them to reinforce your health goals.

Self-talk: Don’t eat any food without first asking yourself how it will affect your health. Tell yourself that sticking to your diet is a strategy rather than drudgery.

Take responsibility and stop blaming temptations for your failure. Learn to say no when someone offers dessert. Be proud to say you’re trying to lose weight instead of apologizing.

Remind yourself that holiday happiness comes from spending time with family and friends and not from food.

Exercise and take time for yourself: Go for a walk or perform other exercise throughout the holidays to relieve stress. Focus on exercise even more than at other times of the year to burn calories. Don’t view exercise as a burden – instead make it a priority.

Watch what you drink: Consume plenty of water to help curb hunger. Siebold suggests avoiding alcohol that can boost calorie intake; especially holiday cocktails.

I asked Siebold some specific questions in an e-mail interview:

1. What other 'talking points' can people use to give themselves to curb overeating at the holidays?

Siebold: “Nothing has more power to change our beliefs and behaviors than positive self-talk. It’s the most underrated self-empowerment strategy in the history of performance psychology. Most people with a weight problem develop their self-talk scripts from the masses, and much of it is integrated and executed unconsciously. Fit people develop their self-talk scripts from world-class performers, and most of it is integrated and executed with acute awareness. Your messages of self-talk should be centered around hope, inspiration and encouragement. Specifically to the holidays, here are a few examples of talking points people can use.”

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• “That piece of cake looks good, but six pack abs and muscular arms look better.”

• “I’m not going to look at the big picture of the holidays and all that food, instead I’m going to take it one day at a time or one meal at a time, and stop when I start to feel full, not when I feel sick.”

• “I am mentally tough enough to not overeat this year. I want to be healthier, leaner and sexier, and I can do it. I have the power in me to make it happen.”

• “I miss the days when people would do a double take because I looked good, instead of doing it because I’m big. I’m tired of being lazy and ready to get fit again.”

2. Some studies show exercising can be an excuse for people to overeat. It can curb hunger, but some people get hungry after exercise. Do you have any specific food suggestions, in addition to staying hydrated to curb hunger?

• Siebold: “I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, so always check with a professional, but in terms of food, lean proteins always helped me curb hunger and are good for building muscle. Exercising to be able to eat more is a bad strategy. You should exercise because it’s good for you, helps keep your weight under control, and is a mental boost as well as a physical one.”

3. If you say 'no' to desserts, do you think people will later binge? How do you feel about moderation instead?

• “If people say no to desserts and later binge, they haven’t developed the mental toughness and made the decision to finally stick to their diet and weight loss plan once and for all. Having a little taste of something that’s not healthy once in a while is fine for the person who lives a healthy life and is fit, but for the person who is on a diet and needs to lose weight, “no” means “no” and you can’t even entertain the idea of cheating. This isn’t a game; it’s not something you can pick up and put down and keep starting over on. If you’re on a diet and need to lose weight, this is serious business and you need to treat it as such. It’s all or nothing.”

Siebold lost 40 pounds in 4 weeks and admits his approach to dieting is sometimes rude. He explains his goal is to help people ‘cut through’ the blame to stay self-motivated toward weight loss goals and good health.

Buy Siebold's book if your weight loss plans have failed. Here is what two reviewers at Amazon.com had to say:

" Goal setting and mental toughness work. This book helps counter all the excuse-making, rationalizing and justifying why we are fat. I wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out!"

"The mindset of this book is brilliant. Finally someone who understands the plight of our nation. After a fight to get back into shape last year, I understand exactly where he is coming from. If you are able to take a step back from our brainwashed, excuse-ridden society you will find this book will change your life."

Make it your goal to stick to your diet this holiday season by getting mentally tough – then you won’t need to make that ‘New Year” weight loss resolution. According to Steve Siebold, in an NBC interview, “It’s time Americans grow up…and get healthy again.”