Feast-mode or Beast-Mode?

How many times have you said or heard someone say, “I put on so much weight over the holidays” or any reference to overeating, gaining weight, needing to work off the food but not getting enough exercise? We’ve all said it. We’ve all done it.  It’s like we give ourselves a free pass to just go bat-shit crazy from as early as October 31st through January 2nd.  Not the 1st, because we all have to eat cabbage rolls for luck and have our final indulgences.  Why do we do that?  And when did that mentality start?  The bigger question is how do we prevent it or change it?   Of course, I don’t have the answers.  I have been a victim of this cycle every year just like everyone else.  All I can do is share with you my insight and experience so far this year.

In late September I started eating a ketogenic diet (more on that in a future blog), which is essentially high protein, high fat and low carbs.  I keep my net carbs (carbs – fiber) at 30 or less.  I do get a cheat meal once a week.  Not a full day, just one meal. This has worked very well for me, with the support of my trainer/nutritionist and counselor.  I have fallen into a routine of what foods work best and have even created some “Christa classics” by just throwing stuff together and seeing if it works.  My specialty is quesadillas. You can pretty much put anything in a (low carb) wrap with some cheese to bind and it will be delicious.  One even had leftover keto chili in it.  It’s been easy to stay on track, cutting back on eating out and prepping food on Sundays.  I’m grateful for the success I have had. BUT, I haven’t really been challenged….until the holiday.

My challenge, if I chose to accept it, was to get through 4 days of being in Arizona with my family and staying on plan.  It would require good decision making, planning and being okay with the fact that meals wouldn’t always be in my control.  I didn’t come this far to throw it all away in 4 days.  So after consulting with my team to make sure I had the tools to be successful, I accepted the challenge!

Off to Tucson we go. We were traveling on Thanksgiving. The day started with my usual breakfast- eggs and bacon- then a snack of almonds.  Upon arrival it was time to see the family and have Thanksgiving dinner. Remember, I am allowed one cheat meal per week.  You can bet your sweet ass, this was it! I had 2 rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, crackers and 2 desserts.  And I savored every bite. Pork dinner

Day 1: Success

Friday morning rolls around and now I get to see what I’m really made of, besides sugar and spice of course.  My brother made me eggs and bacon, which were delicious.  It was a late breakfast so I only had some almonds in the afternoon.  He and my sister-in-law were hosting a party for us that evening. He made delicious BBQ!  The idea was to make a sandwich. No can do. Laura made risotto salad and bean salad.  No can do.  Of all the options, what I can do is have the BBQ sans bread, slaw, marinated artichokes and cream cheese stuffed peppers.  Delicious!  Did I mention there was dessert?  Some was store bought, which I can easily walk away from.  The other was homemade brownies.  Those were calling to me.  I took one of them and moved it over to the other side of the serving plate they were on, just to give me a little time to think about whether I truly wanted the brownie.  I walked away.  By the time I thought about it again, all the brownies were gone.  Alleluia!  I’ve been saved!

Day 2: Success

Saturday is another fun day of walking around town, taking the streetcar, doing some local shopping and seeing the Symphony.  We started with breakfast at a local restaurant that is a favorite of my family.  After looking at the menu, I had a breakfast sandwich, again sans bread, with greens, roasted red peppers, 2 eggs and cheese. I also added a side salad to bulk up my veggie intake.   After walking all over town and getting more than my 10,000 steps in for the second day in a row, we decided to stop and have ice cream for lunch.  Ice cream is not on the approved list.  But I chose to have the ice cream.  Unlike the old Christa who would have gotten the largest size afraid she may never eat again, this Christa chose the smallest size knowing that now I have the tools to deal with hunger and I would, in fact, eat again.Ice cream  The biggest challenge came Saturday night.  Dinner was just a family affair at my brother’s house. But the theme was Italian.  Yep, you guessed it… pasta and garlic bread!  Are they trying to torture me?  Not just pasta, but pasta ordered from an Italian restaurant that catered my niece’s wedding.  If it’s good enough for a wedding, you know it is some damn good Italian.  Fortunately, Laura made an amazing salad to go with Sat Dinnerit.  As hard as it was, I had (a ton) of salad and leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.  No pasta, no bread.

Day 3: Success

Sunday rolls around and we are wrapping up an amazing trip. But not before one…more…meal. We go to a mariachi brunch.  Ole! The menu is limited.  But I can almost always find something.  I ordered chicken wings with a dry rub to share with the table.  They were super yummy!  And I ordered a steak salad, also tasty.  Time to go to the airport.  On the 3 ½ hour plane ride from Tucson to Atlanta, I had some almonds.  It was 9:00 pm when we got to Atlanta and I was starving!  So we ate at the airport TGIFriday’s. My last official vacation food challenge.  I had a burger, no bun and a side Caesar salad, no croutons.

Sunday SaladDay 4: Success

I have to say, I was very proud of myself.  I took pictures of everything I ate so I could report back to Anthony, my trainer, and Alicia, my counselor. A little obsessive? Yes.  But until I get the hang of it, I am just more comfortable having the reassurance that I am making good choices. I got the thumbs up from both of them. Although I can tell you, I would be okay if I don’t eat another almond for a while. I weighed in the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and again on the Friday, a week after Thanksgiving.  I am very pleased to announce that I lost 3 lbs!!!  Not only did I meet the challenge, I slapped it around and made it my bitch!

Sunday WingsConfession:  I am going on an all-inclusive vacation for 4 days, 5 nights this week.  All bets are off!  I will try not to go crazy and keep my carbs and desserts to a minimum.  But, I also plan to enjoy my vacation and not be so rigid. Wish me luck!

I could have very easily sabotaged myself and gone into FEAST-MODE for 4 days. Feel terrible about myself afterward.  Let it get into my head and ruin the positive attitude I have been creating throughout this process.  OR, I could go into BEAST-MODE, feel good about my decisions, know that I can tackle any challenge (and win), stay on track and keep the positive attitude I’ve been working on.

I know we have all gone through the holiday indulgence pitfalls.  And I know we have all failed at one time or another.  Just know that you can choose which mode you want.  If you give it true, thoughtful consideration, I am certain you will choose to be a beast!   Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve…they are all just days. A Tuesday, Thursday, Monday and Sunday to be exact. Just another day. Make each day your BEST day!

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6 Responses to Feast-mode or Beast-Mode?

  1. Micah says:

    Props to you! That’s vacation mode eating takes an iron will! Very happy to see you owned it. AND lost weight when others packed on the pounds! Way to set yourself up for success going forwards!

  2. Christa Hamra says:

    Thanks Micah! This next trip will be a true challenge. I’m hoping my bestie, who is traveling with me, will keep me in line. LOL

  3. Meg Nico says:

    You’re going to be successful on your next excursion! Congratulations on the loss! I’m happy for you!! You are proof that determination pays off!

  4. Michelle Smith says:

    This is fantastic friend. You are the most disciplined person when you get your mind on something. Stay focused and thanks so much for sharing. Loved it!

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