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An Empowered Holiday Season

It's December, and the holidays are upon us! Most people gain quite a bit of weight over the holidays and then wake up on Jan 1 wondering how they're going to get themselves back on track! Today, Marchelle and I discuss an empowered way to approach the holidays, so you're making choices throughout the season that are consistent with your long-term goals. Tune in, because we reveal some surprising truths!

Some of this weeks episode highlights are:

17:25 Decide in advance to be proactive. Decide ahead of time that you want to have a healthier holiday season.

22:53 So here's something to think about. What if this thought that you have that if you don't eat someone else's food treat - that they are going to be disappointed in you - is actually wrong? Because you don't actually know for sure how they'd feel!

28:19 When it comes to the holidays, let's stop the holiday craziness and let's take an empowered approach. The most important thing that you can do is to make your holiday food decisions in advance.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:00):

You are listening to the, keep the weight off podcast with Dr. Angela episode number 44.

Introduction (00:07):

Welcome to the, keep the weight off podcast, where we bust all the dieting myths and discovered not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. And now your host, Dr. Angeles Zechmann.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:27):

Well, hello friends and welcome to December, today's December 1st. The holiday season is officially upon us, although, you know, it actually started last week after Thanksgiving, but in some situations it starts after Halloween, right? Some of us have had, had the holiday season going on for quite some time already, but now it's December. Can you believe it's December Marchelle? Oh my God.

Marchelle (00:51):

I can't believe how fast this year has gone by.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:55):

Oh, it's been incredible. And you know, I hear that as you get older, the years go by faster and faster. I don't know if you've noticed that, but I definitely have. Yeah. Well, 2022 is going to be here before you know it. And I want all of our listeners to know that I have something special planned for January. It's called a Thirty Day Done With Dieting Bootcamp. So you got that. We're done with dieting, right?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:24):

I'm super excited because in the course of 30 days, I'm going to teach you everything you need to know to lose weight; the mindset strategies, the biochemistry of the body, and how to stop dieting and discover how to nourish the body properly so that you can lose weight. So keep your eyes and ears open later this month for an opportunity to sign up for this bootcamp. Super, super excited to be able to offer this. Now, in the meantime, we have to get through the holiday season, right? So that's the hard part getting through the holidays, right? So most people actually gain weight over the holidays sometimes as much as five or 10 pounds, and sometimes even more than that. And so personally, I think it's really great if we can just maintain our weight in December and not gain anything. Occasionally there, we do have a few people who will actually lose weight through the holidays, and that is really awesome.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:29):

So we wanted to kind of develop the right strategies here. So that's what I want to do in this podcast is to give you some strategies for maintaining your weight, and then you can join us in January for the bootcamp and really start to understand what to do to lose. Okay. How's that sound? Sound good?

Marchelle (02:48):

That sounds great. Let's yeah, let's get into it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:51):

Yeah. Well, the first thing I want you to do is to just pull out your calendar and take a look at what you have planned for this month. So everybody either get your phone out. If you, if your calendars on your phone or just take a look at what you have planned for this month. So I suspect that your calendar is going to be a little bit busier than it was last year, but you might not be back to the pre COVID activity levels.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:21):

So for example, is there an office Christmas party or a work Christmas party this year. They probably call it a holiday party, a work holiday party, or do your kids have functions at school? Are there holiday ballet or band recitals, that sort of thing? Are there any charitable events that you're going to be attending? We had a Christmas Forest auction here in Olympia for many years.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:49):

But they're going to, they didn't do it last year at all. They're going to do it virtually this year, which I think is going to be a little bit different, but you know, it's just something that's going to be going. So something to put on the calendar. I see that live theater is open again and there are concerts to go to. So you might have some things going on that you didn't have going on last year.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (04:12):

And I just would encourage you to look at your calendar and see what you have going on this month. Okay. Find out exactly how many days there are, where there are going to be special occasions. Probably what you're going to find out is that most days in December are just going to be normal days, just routine weekdays, and maybe even some just routine weekend days too. There may be special events on weekends and you may be hosting guests or traveling over the holidays, but really, most days are going to be pretty normal. Now there are a lot of extra jobs like decorating the house and buying and wrapping and perhaps mailing holiday gifts or planning for hosting guests or traveling to other people's homes, planning, holiday meals. So those kinds of things do take up time. If you have events to attend, you got to figure out what to wear that can take time. So there can be a lot to think about it and it can actually start to feel a little bit overwhelming. So have you got a lot of stuff going on in December Marchelle?

Marchelle (05:25):

So for me, I think that the most overwhelming part of December is shopping and buying gifts for people and the pressure of, you know, what to get everybody because I always want to get the perfect gift and I always wait till the last minute to shop. Yeah. So stressful. So shopping, so shopping for me is where I, where I struggle is, all the other stuff is like fun for me. But yeah, feeling the pressure of, you know, buying the gifts for everybody is…

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:04):

Yeah, I have that too. I can't wait till the last minute though, because I have to actually get it mailed out ahead of time. Cause I have so many relatives out, out of state. And so, I'm like, I have to be done with all of it by the 14th pretty much, or it's not going to get there in time. So anyway, there's just, there's a lot to think about, you know? And so just recognize that December can be a little bit crazy for people.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:32):

Here's my advice for all of our listeners: pick and choose. You don't actually have to do it all. You don't actually have to do anything. Remember the podcast I did a few weeks ago on have do thinking? Well, you really don't have to do anything. Pick and choose and do only what you want to do. So if you don't want to decorate, then don't decorate.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (07:01):

If you don't want to go to the office holiday party, then don't go to the office holiday party. Be very deliberate about what you say yes to. Remember, anytime you say yes to something you say no to something else, right? There's only 24 hours in a day. And so you want to look at your calendar and say, okay, if I say yes to this, what am I saying no to? What would I be spending my time on that I'm saying no to.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (07:33):

Because oftentimes what you're saying no to is sleep, or exercise, or meal planning and grocery shopping time, or just the downtime that we need to feel balanced. So remember, we're not machines, we're human beings and we need time for rest and for doing nothing so that we can recharge our batteries. So many people, they see their batteries start to go low on their phones and they're like getting it plugged in right away. But we don't do that for ourselves. We just are like, oh, we just keep going. We don't need to recharge so

Marchelle (08:10):

Well, I think that, so honestly I think that's kind of how our society is right now. I mean, just it's gotten this way where I think social media has portrayed that people can do everything all the time. Like, like you compare it. Like sometimes I compare myself to the things that I see on social media where, you know, this person does it all, you know, they work a full-time job and they can get all their shopping done and they can do everything for the kids. And, you know, and it's like this for me, it's like this pressure to be able to do it all because I think that social media portrays that people can do it all and, and it's, and it's not okay. And I think I grew up like, with parents that were sort of maybe workaholics in a little bit of a way where, you know, it's, it's work, work, work, never stop, you know, and never take any downtime.

Marchelle (09:08):

And you know, I, I maybe a little bit, you know, competitiveness like, you know, well, my sister does this, but I can do this, this and this. And so Christmas time for me, you know, and maybe for other people, you, you know, you want to, I don't know, I'm a people pleaser. You want to be able to do it all and, you know, be there for everybody and make sure that you've gotten everything done and that your house is decorated better than anybody else on the block and your lights are better than everybody else's.

Marchelle (09:42):

And you know, so I think that I don't know if anybody else thinks like this, but that's sort of what happens during, during Christmas for me personally. And like I said, the shopping part is where I feel the most pressure because you don't want to leave anybody out, even though sometimes you can't afford to buy your kid, you know, like the PS Five or whatever the heck, you know, is popular that year. But everybody feels the pressure of doing it because they want to keep up with everybody else that's doing it. Yeah. So I don't even know where I was going with this, but oh…

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:21):

Well just, there's just a lot of things that can be very overwhelming during this month. And so we want to as always step back and take a look at the bigger picture, right? And remember that anytime we're saying yes to something we're saying no to something else and that we are human beings and that we have needs. And one of our needs is for adequate rest, for exercise, for moving our body for downtime. So just make sure that, you know what you're saying, no, to, when you say yes to something. I also recommend that you sit down and write about what kinds of concerns that you might have about the holiday season. So for example, do you have one of those jobs where, you know, like a corporate job where appreciation gets expressed to you in the form of food? This used to happen?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:12):

Like, when my dad was working, he worked for Cessna Aircraft. And so they would send every year, you know, in appreciation they would send a big, a big basket full of goodies and stuff. And, and it was like, hmm, is that stuff going to be coming into your house? Maybe you're like my brother, who's a postal worker and the people on his route leave all kinds of treats in their mailboxes for him. And one year I was at his house for Christmas and I couldn't believe all the cookies and fudge and candy he'd brought home. And he actually still had stuff that he'd put in the freezer from the prior year. So like this, a lot of stuff.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:56):

Well, he's on a rural route. And so people really appreciate their rural, rural mail carriers. So, and yeah, so, so anyway, it's, there's just, there are certain things that happen this time of year usually. And that, it, the more you can think I ahead about what might be getting in your way, the better off you'll be. Maybe you're concerned because your mother always makes traditional cookies that really trigger your sugar monster.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:28):

For me, it was my mother's Russian tea cakes. Like those things are evil. They're sort of like I talked about . Marzipan over the summertime, Russian tea cakes are like that for me too. I just cannot eat those without suffering severe cravings for days and days and days and days. And so one of my fears, if I were visiting my mom for the holidays would be whether or not I'd be having to fight with the Russian teacakes. Okay.

Marchelle (12:55):

Oh my gosh, you're totally speaking my language right now. And we don't know that we've talked about this on so many podcasts, but in my family, it was, it is traditional, not just my family and my husband's family, too. Grandma would not just make, like, Russian tea cakes. She would make literally 15 different kinds of cookies. Like, five kinds of fudge. You know, all, all of these things, she would spend days and days. And my mother too, and my grandmother used to do this. This is just a thing. And they would make these big platters, right? All the different families and, and this, and this isn't, this happens like even before, you know, like the Christmas day, you know, this isn't even like a gift. This is just a tradition where, you know, you start handing out like the cookies, I've even heard of people doing like cookie parties instead of like, a gift exchange instead of a gift exchange, they do a cookie exchange where they make the cookies, you know, and give it, give them to each other.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:01):

I have done that.

Marchelle (14:03):

And like nurses, a lot of nurses tell me during this time of the year, there's always tons of stuff in the break room because the kids are getting the baskets that, you know, doctors will send to each other and, and the doctors will just throw it in the break room, you know, for the nurses to eat or everybody to eat. And so…

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:25):

Teachers have a really rough time. Teachers have a rough time this time of year too, because the parents will oftentimes express appreciation and write in the form of cookies and treats and stuff like that.

Marchelle (14:35):

Yeah. So candies and chocolates and all that. I mean, if you go into like Fred Meyer, you know, for instance, they've so weird. Like the day after Halloween, I can't remember which store I went into and it was completely just set up for Christmas and all the Christmas cand, like all the wrappings that the, the candy companies do, you know, it's, it's all themed, you know, with the red and the gold and, and you know, and packaged really pretty because it's a really easy gift to and grab somebody, a box of chocolates, you know, and give it to your neighbor or, you know you know, your financial manager, whatever. Yeah. So, yeah, so it's, it's definitely a holiday with a lot of pressures.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:25):

Well, you know, and I want you to know, there's a reason that people give sugar and flour treats and not broccoli at the holidays. And that's because of the brain chemistry. Well, it's brain chemistry that gets triggered when we have these treats. So you get a big hit of dopamine from sugar and flour and dopamine, if you have not heard me say it before, I'll say it now, dopamine is the pleasure hormone and it's actually a pretty big hit that we get from these foods. We also get a serotonin boost. So serotonin causes us to feel a sense of wellbeing. So there's a wellbeing, but then there's also pleasure. And then there's another hormone called oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone, because it causes us to feel a sense of connection. So when someone offers you these kinds of treats, whether it comes in the form of eggnog or hot chocolate or cookies or fudge or whatever it might be, they're offering you an opportunity to feel pleasure, to feel well being and to feel connection. So is there any wonder…..

Marchelle (16:40):

That's true. I feel like, you know, my grandma and my mother, they, they work so hard. They do this for days, and this is definitely a labor of love. I mean, they're doing it because they love you and they make all of these treats out of love. I mean, they never thought for a second, they were, you know, they were giving you poison, right. Hurting you in any way.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:07):

Right. Exactly. So these, these types of cookie treats, fudge treats, whatever it might be, they're very popular and ritualized over the holidays in particular. So I just want to have that, have that background, have that set up as a background because you're going to have to make a decision. Like, so let's say this year, you decide to be proactive and you decide ahead of time that you want to have a healthier holiday season.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:36):

I would assume that most of our listeners might be feeling that way, or they probably wouldn't be listening to this podcast. Right. But let's say you're worried. You're like, well, this person has just spent a lot of time making this stuff. Or they usually do spend a lot of time. What are they going to think? Are they going to be upset with me if I tell them I don't want their gift this year? Or, are they going to accept, get upset with me if I actually turn the gift down? And you have to ask yourself, how are you going to handle that?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (18:08):

So I can imagine several different options for handling these situations. The first option is to let everybody know ahead of time that you just don't want any food gifts this year. And just let them know you know, I'm wanting to level my health, I've begun to realize how important my nutrition is, I'm focused on feeding my body nourishing food. And I just want to let you know how to time that I really don't want any cookies or fudge or whatever the traditional treat may be. So you can do that. Okay. And that is a perfectly fine option.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (18:42):

The second option is to accept the gift, give appreciation to the giver of the gift, but then throw the food out as soon as you can. Now, this is interesting because actually the act of giving and receiving occurs at the time that gift is given. Not later, it doesn't ever actually really matter what happens to the gift. So you can accept it at the time, but then not eat it. So can you imagine doing that Marchalle?

Marchelle (19:15):

No. It goes against everything that I've ever been taught. Oh man. That's a hard one.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:23):

Yeah. Well, and then they're….,

Marchelle (19:27):

I can understand why you're saying it, but I have to admit.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:30):

Sounds crazy. I know.

Marchelle (19:32):

It's hard because I love my grandma so much that I couldn't hardly bear to throw away something that she made. And so…..

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:45):

Well so then let's talk, let's talk about the third option, which is to give, thanks for the gift and then go ahead and eat it without guilt. That's always an option too.

Marchelle (19:53):

Well, that doesn't happen either. I mean, I could eat it and I felt totally guilty.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:57):

Well, so that wasn't part of option three though. So listen to listen to the rest of option three; be prepared so you eat it without guilt, but you're going to just be prepared to feel kind of bloated and sluggish. And you might even feel a little nauseated or sick and you'd get prepared to experience cravings afterwards. You just know what you're doing. Any of those first three options that I just suggested is perfectly acceptable, but what's not acceptable, in my opinion, is the option that you just talked about. Marchelle was just go ahead and eat the treat and then beat yourself up and feel guilty afterwards. So that's not an exceptional option in my view. So please don't do that. Okay? Because what's going to happen is those feelings of shame and guilt are gonna set you back farther than any treat ever will. Okay. So, so just be aware of that, you know?

Marchelle (20:52):

I think for me, the, I think for me then, and I don't personally, I'm going to have to have some hard conversations then, and ahead of time, just tell them that I just found out I was diabetic and I can't have any sugar. No, I'm just kidding. But I'm going to have to have a hard conversation because I, the thought of throwing away something that my grandmother made is really, really hard for me to do. And then also splurging and going against, you know, trying to eat healthy, then I know I'm going to feel guilty afterwards. So those two options for me personally, don't, I don't think they're going to work out very well. So I think I'm that having that conversation with everybody ahead of time is probably, for me the best option.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (21:44):

Yeah. Cool. Well many of us are afraid of disappointing the other people with the decisions that we make. So I want to just address that. So I want all of us to make sure that we aren't doing things to please other people at our own expense. So for example, let me talk about, let's say I'm going to go ahead and eat the Russian teacakes that my mom made as a gift. And I've eaten it because I don't want to disappoint my mom and I don't want to feel guilty, but what ends up happening when we do this is that we end up disappointing ourselves instead. So we're still experiencing disappointment and guilt. Right? Right. So here's the question. What's worse, disappointing someone else or disappointing ourselves. And that's a really good question, right? Because most of us are much more willing to disappoint ourselves than to disappoint someone else.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:53):

So here's something to think about. What if this thought that you have that if you don't eat someone else's food treat - that they are going to be disappointed in you - is actually wrong. Because you don't actually know for sure how they'd feel. What could end up happening to you, in particular Marchelle, I'm just thinking about this, if you tell your grandma that you would prefer not to have any of her cookies this year, that you really appreciate all the effort that she puts into them, but you're also discovering that you really want to be a healthy person and they trigger all kinds of cravings in your brain and they make it really hard for you. And so could she please not give you any cookies this year? She might actually be relieved. Because she might be sick of making these cookies and she might be doing it out of obligation.

Marchelle (23:39):

All right. So I'm more thinking about when I'm going, I'm going to say to my mom,

Dr. Angela Zechmann (23:46):

The truth is you don't really know how the other person feels. Maybe they don't care at all. Okay? So maybe this whole idea that you're disappointing, somebody else by not eating their food treat is just a story that your brain is making up. And so then you end up disappointing yourself for the sake of a story that's going on in your head and in your head only. Okay?

Marchelle (24:10):


Dr. Angela Zechmann (24:11):

It's entirely possible. Totally possible, but let's take the other end of it. Let's say that, yes, they actually would be disappointed if you came to them and said, I don't want to have any of those treats and please don't make that for me. If you go ahead and eat it, even though you didn't really want to - guess what you're doing. Okay. Listen carefully to what I'm about to say. Cause this is a very interesting thing that we do from a psychological perspective.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (24:45):

What we do on consciously is we manipulate the other person. What we're doing is we're trying to manipulate how they feel about us by only doing things that please them. And we learned this as children. I mean, I don't want to, I don't want us to think that we're horrible people or anything. If we discover that we're doing this. We learn as children that we'll be accepted into the fold if other people think kindly of us. But what ends up happening is we're not standing in our own truth. We're trying to control how other people feel about us by basically, doing things that we know are going to please them. And this is what happens when we become people pleasers. Is that interesting or what?

Marchelle (25:36):

Yeah, because we all want to be loved and accepted, right. So I mean, who, I don't know who doesn't. Right,

Dr. Angela Zechmann (25:44):

Right, exactly. So, but what we end up doing is we set aside our own truth for the, so that the other person, so we're being dishonest. Basically. We're not being authentic, we're being dishonest so that the other person will like us. So we're unconsciously trying to manage the way they think about us. We're trying to manage their thoughts about us.

Marchelle (26:10):

But I think growing up, that's what we called being polite. Not manipulative.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (26:15):

Yeah. Well, when I learned this, though, it was a huge aha. It was absolutely huge because when we are people pleasers and I am one of them and I know lots and lots of people who are, what we're doing is we're trying to manipulate the way other people feel about us and we're not being true to ourselves. Instead, we make sure that we're controlling how they feel about us. So, so that's one of the huge things that we about in detail, in Journey Beyond Weight Loss. So again, remember that losing weight and keeping it off is about a lot more than just food. It's about really learning how to give up these games that we learned to play, particularly as children and learn how to be authentic and learn how to really love and appreciate and value ourselves.

Marchelle (27:07):

Okay. That's heavy. I mean, that's just a heavy bit of because it kind of hurts the heart because it makes me kind of understand how, what low self-esteem I have.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (27:23):

Well, again, you don't want to be, you want to be a more curious and kind and compassionate with yourself because this is what we learned to do as children. You know, we do, we learn, we learn to please the people that have power over us so that they will think well and kindly of us so that we'll get what we want. Right? So we'll get, we'll be loved and accepted and we'll get our A's in school and we'll get our privileges from our family and all of that. So we learn to be people pleasers. And so learning how to be authentic and letting people know what our truth is, can be really challenging and difficult. So, that's what we really help you with in the online on the online membership. So, and it's not easy. I'm not even going to begin for a moment to say that it's easy.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (28:19):

I am going to say it gets easier with practice, though. Okay. So, when it comes to the holidays, what I say is, let's stop the holiday craziness and let's take an empowered approach. That's what I want each of you to do. The most important thing that you can do is to make your holiday food decisions in advance. Make your holiday plan decisions in advance as well. Make sure that if you don't want any food gifts this year, let people know in advance. If you do want to partake in some special holiday treats decide all of this in advance. The important thing is that you do all of this consciously, without guilt, without shame in an empowered way. Try not to control other people's opinions of you. And instead accept that sometimes people just aren't going to like it when you make the best choices for yourself. Okay. Sometimes they're not gonna like it. But you deserve to be living in a strong, healthy body that you're proud of. And taking care of yourself this holiday season is actually what's most important. Is that making sense?

Marchelle (29:35):

Definitely making sense. Just kind of heavy on the heart.,

Dr. Angela Zechmann (29:38):

Yeah, yeah. It's again, it's not easy, but it gets easier with practice and we can help. All right, everyone, thank you for being here and thank you for being a part of our community. And remember, always to rate and review the podcast on iTunes, if you have not already done. So if you have done, so thank you very much. You haven't done. So get into iTunes and rate and review this podcast because that way other people will find it as well and Marchelle, and I will be very, very grateful to you. Wishing everyone a wonderful December and we'll see you again next week. Take care everyone. Bye-Bye.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (30:16):

Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way, just head over to journey to sign up.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (30:33):

Also, it would be awesome. If you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks. And we'll see you in journey beyond weight loss.

Dr. Angela



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