This CHRISTmas season, just like the others, has been full of food, friends and fun.  Each year varies slightly but the one constant has been (and I assume will continue to be) enormous amounts of food – translate “temptation to wreak havoc upon my body and gain weight.”  Year after year, since losing nearly seventy pounds thirteen years ago, I remain within the same five pound weight range.

As a personal trainer, many people often think that I mercilessly drive myself to workout two times a day or that I only eat rabbit food or “clean” food or “healthy” food.  I honestly can tell you that I am not that zealous to chase a dream, an imaginary “perfect” body.  Instead, I have found peace with my workouts and my body.  I spend a fair amount of time in yoga practice and with my kettlebells, but I could do more (and sometimes I should do more).  I eat healthy at times and try to stay away from fast food and fried foods because they’re just not that healthy overall.

Aside from those two loosely enforced “rules,” I pretty much eat whatever I want.  I workout when I have time and inclination and can’t remember the last time I took more than a week off without doing some kind of workout.

Amid all of this “go with the flow” kind of feel to my diet and exercise, how do I keep my weight off?  Read on for my favorite tips.

Susie’s Tip #1 – Eat When You’re Hungry and Stop When You’re Full

It’s simple and true but not easy.  The simplest, cheapest and most satisfying way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat within the bounds of hunger and fullness.  The concept is profoundly simple and yet so challenging.  Take a moment before you pop anything in your mouth, and ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry?”  If your stomach is growling or empty,  then please eat.  If you are not physically hungry, then please wait.  Distract yourself with something else for a few minutes until the urge passes.

***This tip could stand alone as a very effective way to lose weight and keep it off.  This is also a pre-requisite for all of the following tips.  If you do not follow  tip #1, the following four tips will not be as effective.***

Susie’s Tip #2  -Don’t Limit Your Choices

Don’t beat yourself up with rules. Rules mean that certain foods are “off limits.”  When you think that you CAN’T have something, you immediately want it! Think about that old boyfriend or girlfriend whom you didn’t really like but wanted back as soon as he or she started dating someone else.  It’s human nature to long for the things we can’t have!  If you want a piece of chocolate cake, have a small piece and fully enjoy it!

Susie’s Tip #3 – Don’t Be Thrifty!

Don’t save your favorites for last – eat them first.   If you save your “best for last,” you’ll eat the least liked foods first.  By the time you get to your favorite, you’ll already be full.  Eating your favorite last means that you won’t enjoy it as much as when you feel really hungry, and you’ll feel stuffed later.  Go ahead and eat that favorite food first!  When you’re full, it’s a lot easier to stop eating when the leftover food is not your favorite.  Heck, sometimes I eat dessert first just so I know I’ll have room for it!

Susie’s Tip #4 – Demand the Best!

When you arrive for a holiday dinner party, take time to look over the food that’s available before you line up with your plate in hand.  Remind yourself that you have only a limited space in your belly and it’s not that big.  Make sure you choose only those foods that you really love and are craving.  It’s okay to demand the best when it comes to the foods that will satisfy you.

Susie’s Tip #5 – Arrive Hungry

Whenever you attend a holiday dinner party, plan to arrive hungry.  Don’t eat before you go because you know that you’ll eat at the party.  Eat a small snack if the party isn’t until later in the evening, but don’t eat a full meal.  In fact, for any meal, plan to arrive hungry or skip it.  If you eat a huge snack in the afternoon and you’re not hungry for dinner, put dinner in the refrigerator and have it for leftovers whenever you are hungry later.

Those are a few of my favorite tips for keeping holiday weight gain a thing of the past.  I make mistakes, too, but I get right back on track as soon as I can.

Wishing you much joy and happiness this holiday season!