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Staying Fit throughout the Holidays

Between pies, drinks, busy travel schedules, family obligations, office parties, and shopping extravaganzas, it’s easy to see how one can quickly miss a day, two, three, or even a couple weeks worth of workouts. Plus, there’s the looming New Years resolution right around the corner, so why not wait until New Years to get back on track with diet and exercise, right?

Well there’s 37 days until New Years after Thanksgiving, and slacking on your fitness goals can cause more damage than you’d think. I know it’s hard, especially for those of us working full-time jobs on top of all the other holiday obligations….so challenge yourself – set a goal, and find ways to fit your exercise in. Here’s some tips to to keep up your exercise routine this holiday season, and avoid the struggle of getting back to shape in January.

First thing, get in the right mindset!

Accept that you are not going to be perfect, and the holidays are going to affect your exercise program to some extent. And that’s ok, but know you don’t have to indulge. It’s important to keep fitness a priority in your schedule.  

Yes, you will have a cheat day or a rest day, but the key is to not completely fall off the wagon. In reality, what really matters is the overall calories you consume and expend through the entire holiday period. One or two missed days or splurges won’t derail your efforts, but the goal is to stay focused and dedicated on the other days. Don’t use parties or slip ups as an excuse to throw your whole day away. Understand that these days will happen, but it doesn’t have to ruin all your progress. It’s not ok to wait until Monday, or after Christmas, or whatever it will be; rather, make the choice to improve and do better right now.

One choice, and one decision at a time.

So lets talk about some ways you can be successful, simply by being mindful this Holiday season.

What you tell yourself is key – deficit or abundance mentality? Before you start the day, get still, spend a moment in quiet, get mindful about what is important to you and how can you stay with your goals yet fully receive and participate in this day and the season. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” deciding in advance will help.

Relationships over food!!! Holidays can be great fun, but can be filled with underlying family stress.  If there is a relationship that “makes you want to over-eat” – ACKNOWLEDGE IT.  Be honest with yourself, try not mask it with food which you know won’t heal or fill those voids….cause let’s be honest we all eat our feelings every now and then, it’s life. 🙂 

Eat breakfast every day, include protein. Generally, this will stabilize you for the day ahead and you will consume less throughout the day. Try doing an egg white scramble LOADED with veggies!! STUFF YO FINE SELF WITH BROCCOLI!!

Avoid skipping meals period; especially going into an event or party. This is a surefire way set yourself up and derail your best plans. **I don’t know about you but if I go to a full on buffet hungry as heck it’s really hard to make straight minded decisions**

Make time for a training session or some type of physical activity prior to the event. What you do choose to eat will be put to good use. PLUS you’ll get those endorphins going (yay for endorphinzzz)

Pack Healthy snacks and stay hydrated. Be a snack smuggler – Megan Roosevelt, R.D., Founder of Healthy Grocery Girl suggests this as her one rule.  “Traveling, shopping, and running errands during the holidays can lead to fast food, skipping meals, or surrendering to the siren call of Cinnabon. To keep your appetite in check, never leave home without a snack. Choose options made with real ingredients to truly energize and nourish your body.”

Pack chewing gum or sugar-free candy.  Party nibbling becomes a bit more difficult when chewing gum I personally keep a few packs with me depending on cravings LOL. Target has the BEST options!

Always assess your hunger.  Just because the co-worker brought in the plate of goodies doesn’t mean you have to eat it now. Are you hungry? Does it appeal to you?  If so, accept it and set it aside for a more optimal consumption time.

YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER FOOD – THAT COOKIE DOESN’T OWN YOU!!!!

Don’t eat the crowd – what do I mean?  Don’t eat something especially in excess just because everyone else is, ask yourself are you hungry and do you really want it.  A taste test is one thing, a full plate is another.  If you really want it, consciously choose it.

Mindfully survey your choices (the entire spread) ahead of time. Choose what you would really enjoy.  Perhaps choose a broth laden soup, then some protein sources, green salads and your favorite veggie dishes. Consider keeping starchy, fats laden food and desserts until last.   

This is known as eating “low-to-high” and is a great hunger strategy for keeping calories in check. “Remind yourself, that this will NOT be your last chance ever to enjoy this dish… The habit of abundance mentality shows itself strong, when you can tell yourself – there is more where that came from!”

I love this strategy from Epicurious article which suggests we “Act Like an Accountant” – it suggests leaving a calorie allowance for dessert. “If you know you’re going to want dessert, rather than denying yourself, simply cut back on the hors d’oeuvres or dinner—this can be as simple as not having bread or avoiding the pasta and having mostly salad or veggies. As with dessert, if you know you want to have the calorie-heavy specialty cocktail, find ways to cut back in other parts of the meal.”

Of course – there’s always a “choose the smaller plate” option. (TRICK YO SELF)

Eat slowly, TASTE your food and enjoy the company. If you don’t really like it, move it aside. Don’t eat out of guilt to please someone else… you would be shocked if you knew how many extra calories are consumed just for someone else who wants you to try their dish that you don’t even really like…

Consider your portion sizes, serve only what you think you might like, then leave bit of everything on your plate. This can be your offering of Thanksgiving. 😉

Stop before the plate is clean – eat until you are 80% full – remind yourself, there is more where that came from, later is another meal, tomorrow is another day, this holiday will come again.


Here’s an interesting desert habit to consider. Lauren Harris-Pincus, R.D.N., of Nutrition Starring You, suggests the “three bites and good night” dessert strategy.

“The first bite is the best, the last the grand finale, and every bite in between is the same.  In three bites, you get the full dessert experience, so really focus on savoring those three and you’re less likely to overindulge.”

Beverages….Oh my – well that’s a whole other TOPIC but general rule of thumb is alcohol is never easy to fit in when dieting. If you are going to indulge, stick with wine – not too sweet – or hard alcohol mixed with a 0 calorie mixer. For more info, you can check out my blog Weight Loss and Alcohol.

HOLIDAY PARTY STRATEGIES

(no more muffin tops!!!)

  • If you plan to have some treats for your meal, eat JUST protein and veggies (no carbs or fats) for the meals prior
  • CHOOSE AHEAD. Find out what’s on the menu and then decide what the top 3 foods are that you KNOW you want to have…..
    1.
    2.
    3.
  • NOW – decide HOW MUCH you will have of each. And write down the portions next to the food. If there’s one food you LOVE more than all others (for me it’s an almond dessert that my mother in law makes) then limit the other foods to small portions and then have 1 larger portion for the favorite.
  • If you like all equally – assure them all to be semi-small servings.
  • COVER HALF YOUR PLATE IN VEGGIES NO MATTER WHAT AND EAT THESE FIRST this will fill you up faster before you get to the good, calorie dense stuff 🙂