M&M’s and ‘munch monsters’

Four of Pam Peeke’s clients — the Peeke Performers — share their holiday strategies:

Bonnie Briggs, 55, Woodbridge:

The former competitive triathlete is taking control of what she’s eating. She maps out what she’s allowing herself to nosh on at parties ahead of time, and taking responsibility for bringing dishes she knows are safe. “When I’ve asked to bring something, I’ve never had anybody say absolutely not,” she says. If adults are hanging around the food, Briggs finds her way over to the kids to show off her “Dance Dance Revolution” skills. And on days she doesn’t manage to get up for a bike ride or run in the morning, she’ll be hard at work on her Wii at night. “I let off steam that way,” Briggs says.

Kris Cater, 66, Silver Spring:

“The thing I’ve found I’ve had to do is plan, plan, plan,” says Cater, who’s had trouble figuring out meals ever since her husband, who did the couple’s cooking, died four years ago. But she’s determined to fight off the “munch monsters” by making sure she always eats breakfast, keeps a food journal and establishes a regular exercise schedule. To help keep her going in tough times, Cater relies on affirmations. “I call the affirmations my cookie jar. I pull things out when I need them,” she says. The other trick she’s learned from Peeke is to keep a clothes-o-meter: Trying on the same dress the morning of Thanksgiving, her birthday (in early December) and Christmas as incentive to stay on track.

One of Pam Peeke’s clients, Bonnie Briggs. (Courtesy Bonnie Briggs)

Monique Walton, 52, Kensington:

Between work and singing with a choir, Walton is constantly on the go. But her brain gets to take breaks thanks to transcendental meditation, a practice Peeke turned her onto. The peace and quiet makes it easier to survive the stress of the holidays. “TM is a reserve I can call upon to help me look at things with perspective without diverting to automatic responses, especially when that response is hand to mouth,” she says. Another Peeke piece of advice she swears by is “stay vertical.” After she’s done eating, she volunteers to put the coffee on, get desserts passed out and starts cleaning up. Staying busy means she’s not sinking into the couch with a piece of pie.

Anne Foster, 50, Rockville:

It was her best friend’s death from cancer that served at Foster’s wake-up call about her weight. “I was 254 pounds, a ticking time bomb with pre-diabetes,” she says. Now it’s her friends’ support that allows her to maintain her new figure that’s 130 pounds lighter. Her success has been due to better food choices and a whole lot of exercise. On those nights when watching TV is so tempting, she can force herself to get to the gym because she knows her pals are waiting for her at Zumba class. “I do better when I have someone I have to be accountable to,” she says.


Conquering unhealthy eating habits

— Vicky Hallett