For weeks, you have tracked your food and exercised regularly to improve your health and alter the shape of your body. More than a “diet” or a fitness fad, you’ve created real lifestyle changes and built the confidence that you can stick with it for the long haul.
So why is the winter holiday season so intimidating—even scary—for so many?
The answer is complex. Sure, there’s the food. Unlike other food-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day or Halloween, the winter holiday season lasts for weeks. There are more parties, more potlucks, more food gifts, more cookies and well, just more everything! And these temptations won’t be going away any time soon. Then there’s the stress. Buying gifts, volunteering, decorating, cooking and party hopping often take the place of cooking healthy meals at home or hitting the gym. Like an infant sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, it’s no wonder we’re scared of the holidays and the infamous weight gain they encourage.
How can we keep up with a healthy diet and fitness program—let alone lose weight—with all of this going on around us, day after day?
That answer is simple… Plan to Stick with your plan!
It is easy to fall victim in the face of temptation when you have no plan. You have already learned that having a action plan helps you to stay in charge of your decisions you make for eating healthy and fitness. Consider that all the time during the year you have been preparing yourself for the “stay in Charge of your eating Olympics” during the holidays.
You’ve overcome temptations and slip-ups before. Every day poses challenges, yet you have learned remained strong and continue to make progress toward your goals.
Why should the holidays be any different? If you want to lose weight this month, you can. You just have to choose to stay in charge, one day at a time.
If you have not been doing it before now might be the perfect time to start Tracking your food.
That means all of it, from the spoonful of cookie batter you ate while baking to the free sample of ham at the grocery store. The idea is to help you to recognize how many times you mindlessly takes bites, spoonfuls and samples of things you did not plan to eat. These “hidden” calories are easy to gloss over but can really add up. You may not know the calorie counts of these nibbles but you can track the action of taking in extra calories. This helps to to become more mindful of the sneaky calories you may not be considering. Plus you know from experience how it helps you to lose weight and eat better. If you do nothing else during the holidays, track your food diligently every day.
Plan your holiday meals.
A continuation of tip #1, plan your meals and snacks in advance so you can enjoy your favorites and still stay on track. Before you head to another party or sit down for a holiday dinner, pre-track your food for the day. Find places to cut back on calories in order to splurge a little more on your holiday meal, for example. Decide which foods you’ll have (and how much) and use a Nutrition Tracker to stay within your calorie range.
You wouldn’t miss work, a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting to bake cookies or do some holiday shopping, would you? Add your workouts to your calendar so that other obligations don’t get in the way of your gym time. Tell your friend that you’d love to bring some cookies to her party but that you won’t arrive until after Pilates class lets out.
This is a great tip if you’re heading to a party and don’t know what’s in the food (or how it was prepared). Pick a healthy, low-cal recipe that you can bring. And no matter what kind of food is there, you’ll have at least one dish you can eat with confidence.
It lowers inhibitions, making it more likely that you’ll forget about your nutrition plan and overindulge. Plus, alcohol alone is pretty high in calories. If you can party hop without drinking at all, you’ll be better off. If you must drink, nurse your glass slowly, choose diet-friendly drinks, and limit the number of servings. Oh and yes, alcohol does contain calories, so add every drink to your Nutrition Tracker.
Of course, your loved ones mean well when they give you delicious food and candy gifts. But just because they give them does not mean you have to eat them! There are plenty of opportunities to re-gift food gifts over the holidays: bring them to parties, potlucks, and other get-together s. Or, donate store-bought foods to a local food pantry or hospital to spread the holiday spirit to others. Take home-baked goods to a homeless shelter.
Bring your food to work.
If you feel guilty about re-gifting, bring them to work, church or places that people gather. This time of year, its easy to find a welcome group for all sorts of candy, sweets and other food gifts that people simply don’t want or would rather not eat. Share it in a communal space like the office cafe for others to partake of as they choose.
It’s easy to go over your calories one day and feel like a failure. But remember that it takes much more than one day of overeating to thwart your progress. Accept your slip-ups, learn from them and move on.