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Kevlar for the Mind: Holiday weight no match for discipline, portion control

Jan. 12, 2012 - 11:40AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 12, 2012 - 11:40AM  |  
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About the author

Bret A. Moore is a clinical psychologist who served in Iraq and is the author of "Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life after Deployment." Click here to email him. Names and identifying details will be kept confidential. This column is for informational purposes only. Readers should see a mental health professional or physician for mental health problems.

If you are reading this, then you made it through another year. Congratulations! Conventional wisdom says that you are smarter, wiser and a tad gentler in nature.

What conventional wisdom may not reveal is that you are likely a little heavier.

In addition to wishes of fortune and success, many of us enter the new year with a few more unwanted pounds. It's easy to understand why. We are lured to the dinner table by picture-perfect hams and turkeys. In the late hours of the evening, we are subconsciously seduced by bakery-quality cookies, cakes and pies. To be honest, most of us don't have a fighting chance.

Believe it or not, there is a psychology to losing your holiday weight. You can do it if you follow a few basic principles and conjure up an extra shot of discipline:

Stay away from high-risk areas. If you think you can just wander into the mall's row of fast-food joints and "play it by ear," you are most certainly going to leave feeling guilty. Don't put yourself in such a precarious position. If the family decides to go out to eat, find a restaurant with a salad bar that isn't surrounded by fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

Don't use food as a way to manage your feelings. That bag of chips or large order of fries will provide only temporarily relief from stress or sadness.

Use smaller plates. Humans have the urge to fill up a plate, regardless of its size. Before you test out the tensile strength of a plate the size of a trashcan lid, pull back and use a smaller one. If you fill it, you will eat it. That's why it's important to go small.

Use positive self-talk. One of the best ways to overcome an urge is to talk yourself out of it. Remind yourself why you want to lose the weight in the first place. Silently tell yourself how much better you will feel after eating grilled chicken and a salad instead of chili cheese fries.

Reduce negative self-talk. Stop telling yourself that you are powerless over Rice Krispies treats. Fight back when your inner voice says "one more doughnut won't hurt you."

Whether it is to make weight, run faster or to look better in your uniform, there is hope for shedding your holiday pounds. All you need is a little discipline, common sense and portion control. Best of luck!

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