Holiday weight gain is a myth
Each year, we start seeing advertisements and sponsored posts on social media dedicated to promoting weight loss right about now. Influencers as far as the eye can see start shelling weight loss teas, lollipops, meal plans, extreme exercise regimens, and much more.
It can be a lot to take in. Diet culture has told us, year after year, that our bodies simply can’t be trusted around food during the holidays and that we must work very hard to lose weight in the new year. Everything from gym memberships to home exercise machines to protein powders are put on sale, luring people to hate and shrink their bodies.
So much shame is placed on food during the holidays so companies that profit on our insecurities will make more money come January.
I challenge you with this: what if you happen to gain weight during November and December? What’s the worst that will happen, truly? Is the price to pay for enjoying food, family and friends tormenting ourselves in a couple of weeks to achieve the “ideal” weight that beauty and clothing companies have told us to be?
In reality, our weight already fluctuates on a daily basis. A majority of weight gain is actually water weight. Will eating one or two more desserts more than usual cause you to gain five pounds? Absolutely not. According to Intuitive Eating, “many factors can influence fluid retention — hormones, excessive sodium intake, and even the weather! Yet how easily chronic dieters believe they did something wrong.”
And yes, you guessed it, weight loss is often the loss of water and other fluids. This could happen during and after workouts, when people tend to sweat a lot, or it could happen just by simply being alive.
We’ve been taught, and shown, that looking a certain way is incredibly important. Actors, models, celebrities — most magazines are covered in stereotypically ideal body types. So if someone dares to look different than what is considered to be ideal, they can often feel left out or less worthy of love and acceptance.
When January comes around, people are even more constantly feeling the pressure to lose weight and look “better” (aka “thinner”). They’ve been told that eating delicious food during the holidays was a mistake because they enjoyed it too much, and now they must punish themselves.
So, how much weight, on average, do people gain over the holiday season?
About 1.36 pounds.
Are we really going to torture and obsess over an increase of less than 2 pounds? Ideally, we wouldn’t stress over any weight gain at all; your body is in charge and it will take care of itself — if you let it.
As you make your New Year’s resolutions, try making some that totally ignore the pressure of losing weight. You don’t have to shrink yourself to be happy or healthy. You do not have to beat yourself up if you don’t look a certain way. It can certainly be difficult to accept and love your body as it is, but I encourage you to do so. The alternative is a lifetime of critical thoughts and harsh exercise that ultimately hurts your physical and mental health.