What’s the scariest holiday I know? It’s Halloween, and for reasons other than zombies and clowns. It’s the candy—it’s everywhere, and not only that, but it’s in those tiny little packages that say “I’m so small, what harm can I do?”
Actually, candy says much more than that to me. Those of you that know me know I’m a crazy-eyed candy freak. Or more accurately, I can become one if I don’t have a plan of attack. One year on The Night Ride (a cycling event) with my friend Suzanne, one of the “pit stops” had a disco party with music, dancing, and tons of candy everywhere. Struck by surprise, I dug in. I remember Suzanne saying “I’ve never seen anyone eat that much candy in my life.” It’s that bad. Or the time my husband, Shawn, told the entire boot camp group I was teaching that he went to work one night and came home to find me asleep in bed surrounded by tiny candy wrappers.
We all have weaknesses and nobody’s perfect. If we acknowledge our minor transgressions we can learn from them and move on. I don’t eat much candy these days— it’s simply not a healthy choice and it doesn’t serve us in any way. In fact, after 10 years in the fitness profession, I can tell you that sugar and alcohol are, hands down, the two factors most likely to derail a person from their weight loss program.
As with anything in life, you have to have a plan to achieve success, and that means also having a “Plan B” for when you face the unexpected. What kind of planning can you do to make sure you don’t go overboard at Halloween? I’ve heard a lot of ideas about this, mostly from people who just don’t get it. What I can give you (having learned the hard way) is a few tips that actually do work. Try them all or just the ones that sound best to you. Let me know how it goes.
#1. Give your Favorites the Immunity Idol:
That’s right, don’t forsake your favorites. Pick the ones you love the best and set a limit. This year for sure I’ll have a couple Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and some M+Ms. They’re a treat. Set your limit and stick to it. If you skip it all you may break down later. Just have what you like best and forget the rest—it’s not worth it.
#2. Try Kid-Cool Candy Alternatives:
If you can keep candy out of your house entirely, choose some prizes that kids actually love (just don’t be that asshole passing out stale raisins). A few things kids actually love:
- Silly Bandz (these have been outlawed at most schools but kids still love them at home)
- Chinese Erasers
- Temporary Tattoos
- Pre-pasted Toothbrushes (kids love those little Wisp brushes)
- Granola Bars
All of these items can be found at your local “big” store—most can even be found at smaller grocery stores like New Seasons. And in honor of sustainability, try to make it something that’s useful, not just plastic junk that’ll go in the trash.
#3. If you Must Buy Candy to Pass Out, Choose a Kind you Don’t Like:
Forget temptation. Leave it at the door. If you love chocolate, buy those nasty little lollipops or gummy bears (this works great for me, I’d never bother to put anything like this in my mouth). If it’s jelly beans for you, give out junior mints. There’s nothing worse than being left with a shitload of your favorite candy (it talks, remember?) Why torture yourself? When I was growing up, we didn’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters. Every year though, without fail, my mother would buy a big bag of mini Snickers and one of M+Ms. She’d leave the front light on until about 630, then she’d shut it off, say “Well I guess that’s it” and proceed to dig in. Don’t plan ahead to buy extra candy for yourself. Don’t buy candy for your “family.” That’s the mindset of a person who doesn’t want to succeed, not you.
#4. Reward yourself for Sticking to the Plan:
It is bribery and it does work. Plan a reward for sticking to the script: clothes or accessories, a new fitness gadget or equipment, new music or a trip. Let the reward be worthy of the effort. I have monthly rewards that are smaller than my quarterly rewards. If you want to roll staying healthy this Halloween into an even greater goal, the reward might be bigger.
#5. Carry your Internal Motivation with you at All Times:
Bribery is external motivation—it works, but only goes so far. To maintain long-term focus, you need to look within. Why are you making this effort to stay healthy? What compelling reasons do you have to stay at it? Dig deep. For me, everything in my life is better when I’m feeling my best. To be fit enough to do any activity that comes my way, to have confidence that carries over to every other area of my life… I could go on and on. What drives me is the desire to help people realize how much they’re capable of, how good they can feel, and for me to do that I need to be at my best all the time. So thank you—you guys help me stay motivated. To take that internal motivation a step further, write your compelling reason on a note card and stick it in your wallet. Take it out and look at it any time you feel your motivation waning. My card says “Lead by example.” It helps to keep me focused. When you make your card, tell me what it says.
The key to maintaining focus with your goals is finding what works for you, making a plan, and sticking to it. You can keep the sugar zombies at bay this year by making a pre-emptive strike and implementing a few of the above strategies. Got any other great ideas that work for you? Please share—you know some of us need all the help we can get. Have a safe and happy Halloween.
Big Big Love,