This time last year, I was a good 220lbs (at least – I’d started avoiding the scales around August, once I knew I was gaining weight.) I’d had a busy October, full of cake and alcohol from a jam-packed birthday calendar, and sweets from a very-much-extended Halloween celebration. I’m a big fan of Halloween because I’m a big fan of sugar. I’m a big fan of cake and alcohol for the same reason.
And looking forward at the start of November… Well, it’s nearly Christmas, right? And Christmas means food. Plus, my birthday’s at the start of December – meaning it’s just one big free-for-all on the food and drink front over the festive season.
With that in mind, here’s the logic I took last year, at the start of November.
“Christmas is coming, so there’s no point starting a diet now. Especially since I’ve had a terrible couple of months – I’m already behind. I might as well just wait until January and make it my new year’s resolution.”
That meant that by the time Christmas came around, I looked like this:
Yes, that is a bottle of olive oil I’m faux-drinking. No, I don’t know why.
The logic with that decision was much the same as when you get your day off to a bad start, food-wise. The temptation is always there to write the day off, eat yourself silly, and “start again tomorrrow.” This was the same, but on a broader scale. I’d already been bad for the last ten months, so it stood to reason that I should write the year off and start again in 2012.
Needless to say, January rolled around, and I was AWESOME at sticking to my resolutions. For about a week. And then I remembered that January sucks, and comfort ate my way through another couple of months. It wasn’t until the end of February that I finally got my butt in gear and finally started to lose the weight. Since then, I’ve lost well over 60lbs.
Now, don’t get me wrong. New year’s resolutions can be really great – and rest assured, January will be one hell of a post-fest around here – but I propose November as an even better month than January to start making positive decisions. Here’s why.
I love Christmas, and I can absolutely guarantee every last one of you that I will be eating, drinking and being merry this year just as much as I always have. But one of the big things I’ve always disliked about it is the amount of times I have to have my photo taken during the festive season. Family events, work nights out, Christmas costumes… When you’re not happy with yourself, each of these things can seem like a special form of torture. Especially if, like me, you’ve got an innate ability to grow between five and seven chins in the moment the camera flashes. I don’t even know how I do it. It’s like the world’s worst superpower.
You might be familiar with that sinking feeling when you see the words “Some Cowbag tagged you in 5 photos on Facebook.” These days, now I’m happier with myself, I’m always quite excited to see the photos from nights out, because they’re memories of good times, rather than sudden realisations of the fact that I’d been constantly trying to deny. That I wasn’t that fat. That I was only carrying a couple of extra pounds.
Denial’s a powerful thing – especially when you’re battling with what seems like a lack of control. Deciding it’s not that bad, and it’s out of your hands anyway, is a recipe for disaster.
So – here’s my two cents. If your November is awesome, you’ll enjoy December more because you’re feeling good about yourself. One of the the things that’s consistently surprised me with the response to a lot of the photos I’ve posted here is that people say I look a lot happier now, and they’re absolutely right. I’m still great at magically creating chins – but because I’m confident, and happy with myself, that shows.
Also, I find that I enjoy treats a hell of a lot more when they’re just that. Treats. Earlier in the year, I’d given up chocolate for a bit because I’d felt like it was my kryptonite. After a couple of months, I had a tiny bite of chocolate, and my GOD. Honestly. It was bliss. Last week, I had a whole chocolate bar, and didn’t really enjoy it because it was just another sugary thing in a month of sugary glory.
Like I said last week, this isn’t about being perfect, and I have no regrets about my fabulous, party-filled October. But I know that a really great November would set me up for a more enjoyable Christmas – where the gloriously naughty food is a treat, and the photos don’t fill me with shame, plus I don’t have to go through the awful mega-diet-starvation-week to fit into a Christmas party dress - and will also help to reinforce a really great, healthy new year once it rolls around.
I know, I know, I know that I’ve said this so many times it’s almost depressing – but this is not about dieting. It’s about a lifestyle change. Taking back November as a good month to be healthy, and live well, is a big part of that, because it breaks the slippery slope into a three month binge that I find myself in every single year. I’m not dieting in November – I’m just living in a normal, healthy way. I’m not letting the cold weather and the endless supply of mince pies disrupt me, because I’ve got plenty of time to enjoy them in moderation over the Christmas period proper – not the retail version of Christmas that begins at the start of September and ends in the middle of January.
If you see each day as an investment in your own health, and your own wellbeing, you’ll have an amazing Christmas, and when you do start your new year’s resolutions, they’ll seem a heck of a lot easier to stick to because you’ve already set yourself up for success.
So – who’s with me?