The holiday season has arrived. And for those trying to lose weight – things can get a little dicey. We often want to know how to stay fit over the holidays.
The majority of Americans can gain an average of 2-5 lbs over the holiday season.
Hold that pace for a decade and that could equate to 50 lbs gained over time, which is the way weight gain usually occurs – slowly, over a number of years.
As mentioned in a previous post, the time between October 31st and January 1st was when I previously would “let it all go.” I felt like I didn’t have the willpower to survive around the holiday temptations. I would “fall off the wagon” and then hop back on after New Year’s.
My New Year’s resolution was always the same. To lose the weight I gained at the end of the previous year.
I had this resolution…
It was exhausting to constantly have this struggle. As much as it seemed like it was easier to say, “Screw it! I’m going to ENJOY the holiday season and start over in January,” I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself at all since I was plagued with guilt come New Year’s.
With that in mind, I am posting my TOP TEN LIST for how to stay fit over the holidays.
Think of these as tools for your toolbox. Try them out and see which tool works best in the situations you encounter. Perhaps you have seen some of these tips before. Perhaps some give you a new perspective. My hope is at least one tip will resonate and help you through this month!
1) Write Down 3-5 Nutrition, Workout and Mindset Goals to Focus on Each Week
Set aside 15 minutes before the week begins to write a workout schedule. In addition pre-planning (and grocery shopping) for meals/snacks ahead of time provides a greater chance for staying on track.
I mention writing “Mindset Goals” as well. Those can be anything – like slowing down and mindfully eating your food, practicing the 3-bite rule (see tip #7), journaling nightly or focusing on stress reduction.
Post your weekly health goals where you will see it! For me, I’m always checking email on my phone. As silly as it sounds, I send myself an email with my weekly goals. It sits in my inbox and keeps popping up throughout the week so I can see if I’m on track. Some people use post-its or put a weekly list of goals on their fridge. When the week is over re-check your list and see which goals you accomplished and which you may need to modify and develop a new strategy for the next week.
2) Consistently Exercise and Shorten Workouts When Necessary
Follow your workout schedule as best you can and realize it’s ok to shorten workouts when pressed for time. Setting a timer and working out for 20 minutes is a technique I use with a lot of clients (and myself!). A 20-minute workout seems more do-able than 30-60 minutes. Make it a high-intensity workout. Get the most bang for your buck and give it your all.
3) Learn to Recognize Holiday Food FOMO
In a nutshell, Food FOMO is fear of missing out and feeling anxious about that food going away. Many times this results in overeating when around that specific food – or type of food (like desserts, etc). It makes you feel like the food has control over you (i.e. if I see it I HAVE to eat it) instead of you feeling in control. And check out my favorite post about FOMO from fellow fitness blogger, Jill Coleman HERE.
4) Experiment with New Recipes
One benefit of starting a new healthy lifestyle in the age of the Internet and Pinterest are the free healthy online recipes! In many cases, if you have been losing weight all year some of your old holiday favorites, which may be loaded with sugar, fats or refined carbs, may not taste as good to you anymore. Even if you find that isn’t the case, there are lots of recipes out there now that can help you stick to your goals and still be enjoyable for family and friends.
5) Enjoy it When it Counts and Eat Healthy When it Doesn’t Count
If you know you want to splurge on Christmas dinner, make a point to enjoy it guilt-free! And for the meals that aren’t as important to you – still eat healthy, according to your goals. For example, have a healthy breakfast and lunch. Fill up on lean proteins, healthy carbs, veggies, water, etc. This will help you stay full and closer to nutrition goals for the day than if you just overate all of Christmas because you were, “off plan” that day.
6) Lean Protein, Green Veggies, Fiber and Water Are Your Friends 🙂
This goes with tip #5. When you find yourself wanting to eat healthy and feel full, fill up on lean proteins, green veggies, foods with fiber (whole grains and veggies) and drink your water quota. You will feel satisfied and lose more weight in the long run.
7) Practice Eating Only a Few Bites
This is a favorite technique to help enjoy holiday goodies, and desserts any time of year. It also comes in handy for those pesky family members who pressure you into trying their treats. Essentially, you eat 2-4 bites of the treat. Eat slowly and enjoy! The first few bites are when it tastes the best anyway, right? The power of this tool is it retrains YOU to have the power – not the food. I love this post from Belief.net that goes into this concept in more detail. Check it out HERE.
8) Track Everything (even the unhealthy stuff) on a Calorie-Tracking App
The most important thing you can do to ensure weight loss success is stay within calorie goals. Ideally, we want all meals healthy, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Staying close to calorie/portion recommendations gives a greater chance to lose weight when things aren’t ideal. This may mean logging your “best guess” if a food or portion was unknown and even logging BLT’s (bites, licks and tastes), as they add up and contribute to total calories.
An important note about tracking meals – sometimes people stay away from calorie-tracking around the holidays because it’s hard for them to see when they don’t completely meet every calorie or macro goal perfectly. For this, I recommend looking at tracking from a different point of view. Striving for perfection 100% of the time leads to disappointment. Better to strive for consistency and balance. Food logging should be used as a tool to HELP GUIDE you – not as a method to determine if you were “good” or “bad” that day. Use it to stay aware of portions and educate you on the nutrition of different foods, but not as a method to beat yourself down if things weren’t ideal. The holiday season may be a great time to practice logging when things aren’t perfect.
Another reason people sometimes stay away from tracking over the holiday season is they don’t know how to figure some of the different foods. For that, I say make your best guess. Even if it’s not perfect, track SOMETHING to provide a framework to build your day around.
9) Make it Public: Announce Intentions to Stay on Track and Find Accountability Buddies
Whether you post your intentions on social media or tell a friend of family member, sharing your goals with others helps you find success. In addition, friends may want to join you. Find a workout buddy or check-in with a friend on how you both are doing with your goals. Accountability helps!
10) Give Yourself Gold Stars
The credit for this idea goes to a brilliant client of mine. This month she started tracking her workouts on her calendar and gave herself a “star” when she completed them. It was motivating to see how many stars she would rack up each week. We all need that pat on the back and the visual confirmation that we are accomplishing our goals.