Thank god that's over!
No, not the creamy pumpkin ales, chips and curry at the local pub, nor the chewy, seed encrusted bread -- especially not the bread.
It was birthday week after all. Yes birthday week, not day, week. It's tradition that one makes the most of this all-about-me holiday. Seems the UK must have a similar tradition because this year my DH was the one who sparked the idea in my vulnerable food loving brain.
We were at a restaurant late Sunday afternoon intending to have an early dinner.
I was intending to have something healthy, like a salad with fish and a Sauvignon Blanc.
We were seated at the bar right near the beer taps and suddenly the idea of a winter ale or pumpkin ale sounded tempting. I rarely drink beer with a meal; I love it but I get too full. "Go ahead, said the man, it's Birthday week." And so began the quick leap from "fits into her new wardrobe with ease" to "What the hell happened here, it's got to be hormones, lack of sleep, the tailor shrunk my dress while they were hemming it…."
Diagnosis? Extreme Birthday Belly.
Diagnosed by me, an expert in the shape shifting midlife body.
No one knows better than I exactly what I did to end up in a situation where I could not bring my new favorite dress to the conference I attended last week because I didn't like how it fit.
In the past this would have made me psychotic and feel out of control.
This year it only pissed me off that I didn't stop my indulgence sooner.
I didn't say not indulge -- I do it regularly -- you should too, it's a part of life.
That said if you don't know what to do to get back on track or reverse an expanding middle, you are bound to feel out of control.
Over the past few years -- maybe 3 -- I've changed how I do food. My former pasta, potato, bread loving, slightly puffy self -- has transformed into a leaner, more energized, minimal carb eating person and I don't miss them--usually. When I do miss them I include them in moderation. Birthday week tossed moderation out the window after the first half loaf of artisanal sunflower bread.
When I review what I ate during that week -- or 10 days -- it was a carb festival driven by the first bread binge. Add in a couple of pints of creamy pumpkin ale, French fries, freshly made hot tortilla chips and weight gain was guaranteed.
Not only did I eat more of foods I don't usually eat--that are known to cause fat storage--but I drank more wine and drank later into the evening. This contributed to calories in excess of what I was burning and it wrecked my sleep. You've heard it before, poor sleep or not enough sleep, leads to fat storage.
Being tired or just not up to par contributed to the dreaded belly in the form of laziness, or lack of motivation if I'm being kind to myself. My morning power walk went out the window. I let myself off on days when it was more important than ever to move.
What stopped this evil trend? I began to feel badly. Lack of good sleep, a pudgy belly, and feeling slightly edgy all combined to ask the question, "How fast can I get back to feeling like the me I prefer?"
For anyone out there who can relate to this syndrome and isn't sure what to do first, here is my prescription. It's fast acting, safe, and guaranteed.
1. Do Not Buy Wheat in any form-none, not even whole grain. Read the book review below.
2. Whenever the little voice recites reasons why the morning walk/scheduled exercise of choice is negotiable--Don't think, don't think, don't think. It is not!
3. Add more movement. In my case it's two classes of Zumba or some other heart thumping, fun, whole body engaging type thing.
4. Drink alcohol reasonably and not after 8, except for special occasions.
5. Do not buy anything you can't resist eating too much of. We all have our saboteurs. Know them and avoid them and you are half way home
6. Take regular movement breaks during the day. Every two hours or so I get up and move around, swing my arms, bounce, anything that gets me out of the chair. They say sitting is killing us, even those of us who exercise. That may or may not be accurate but it's killing the shape of our butts and making our middles soft.
7. Eat protein at every meal and snack. Do not go hungry thinking you are saving calories.
Pretty much that's my plan and I'm sticking to it. My stomach is slowly returning to normal, my sleep is back on track, and I feel energized all day.
Knowing that my lifestyle habits contribute to keeping me healthy and disease free is the bonus for ensuring I will feel good and look good in that new dress in two weeks. Sometimes vanity is the perfect motivation for fighting a distressing diagnosis.

Author's Bio: 

Gregory Anne Cox is a certified life coach, nutritionist, and professional chef, whose mission and passion is freeing women from the conventional wisdom designed to keep them fat, frustrated, and sick.
She helps midlife women entrepreneurs look and fee their best for the second half.
Sign up for her free audio, Your Genes Do Not Determine the Size of Your Jeans