Holiday Blues & Weight Loss: Derail Your Diet? (cont.)
That's because, in your thoughts, your brain doesn't "hear" the word no, Eliot says.
"The brain operates on data associated with very strong emotions, feelings, and pictures," he says. "If you charge the brain with emotions and visuals, the brain will key into those and produce them. In golf, the vision of the lake is a very emotional picture. But with that picture, what you've done is program your brain to get the ball into the lake."
Likewise, your mind governs weight loss -- even how well you survive the holiday blues.
To set yourself up for success, look inside, he says.
"Look at what you want to accomplish, and ask yourself, 'Why is it important to eat moderately?'" Eliot says. "If the answer is 'So someone will say you look great,' that's external motivation. That won't work in the long term.
"Internal motivators are things like feeling good about yourself, having more energy, and being able to run. It's about how you want to feel every day."
When you're feeling sorry for yourself, do something about it, says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a clinical psychologist and spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association.
For example, if you don't have an invitation to a holiday dinner, make alternate plans.
"Consider volunteering at a Feed the Hungry dinner," Wallin says. "Focus on someone other than yourself. If you're elderly and isolated, call some people. Just a call to say 'How are you?' is very much appreciated at the other end."
To keep yourself from feeling deprived during the holidays, don't banish all your favorite foods.
"After all, Aunt Hilda's brownies come around only once a year," says Wallin. "But if you tend to pig out on cookies, don't go to cookie parties. Have a couple at home, and stop there."
It's also important to get plenty of rest. One recent study showed that sleep deficiency is very stressful on the body.
"Stress wears you down during the day. When you're tired, you lose your willpower and you get into arguments easily," Wallin tells WebMD. You're also more prone to overeat, or to feel the holiday blues.
If you're feeling self-conscious about your weight -- for example, about how family members will react when they see you -- give yourself a reality check. "They're not going to reject you," says Wallin. "Do you reject people based on how much they weigh?"
And by preparing yourself for the situation, you can keep such negative thoughts in check.
Her advice: "If you feel self-conscious, you're better to deflect it right away. If you bring it up, it won't be an issue any more. Tell them, 'Other than this weight I've gained, I'm doing great.' Then change the subject."
Avoiding social events can just sink you farther into the holiday blues. So if you're shy at parties, go prepared with some small talk.