How to Stay on Track Over the Holidays
Surprise! It snowed again.
I'd like to point out that snow was not in the forecast going into this week, and I am personally offended that not only did it snow, but it snowed A LOT. It snowed so much that I had to scrape my windshield multiple times throughout the morning. As a native of the Southern states, all this snow has me shook, y'all. I knew it was gonna be cold, but damn! And it's only the beginning of December! I don't know guys, if it wasn't for the CrossFit gym, I would probably never leave my apartment.
Also this parka, thanks North Face:
Anyways, like I said, it's December, and inevitably, that means the cold temperatures make for a less than motivating atmosphere for getting your workout on, when you could snuggle up in bed and watch Hallmark movies instead. On top of that, tempting holiday treats are lurking in every corner. You probably have a holiday party on the calendar for every weekend day this month, and people are constantly bringing their favorite Christmas themed baked goods into the office to share. Not to mention people just LOVE to present you with cookies, candies, and other homemade deliciousness as Christmas presents. How are you supposed to deal with this bombardment of food, and still manage to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain?
I'm here to tell you that you can enjoy the holiday season without losing sight of your goals. Figuring out how to balance your healthy choices with the ones that may seem counterproductive to your goals will actually help you lead a healthier life in the future. After all, life is all about choices, not just during the holiday season. Truthfully, these tips should be implemented into your life throughout the entire year! Check out my rules of thumb for staying on track through the holidays:
1. Enjoy the moments that mean the most to you.
Everyone has their own personal favorites when it comes to holiday traditions. For me, it's mimosas on Christmas morning, baking Christmas cookies (and eating them, of course), and prime rib for Christmas dinner. Maybe these aren't things that fit well into my daily eating habits, but these are things I will never give up, nor should I ever have to. Life should ALWAYS be about balance, and balance means being able to find a way of life that is sustainable in the long term. No one wants to live a life where they are never aloud to enjoy the food they eat or celebrate special occasions. Learn to pick the moments that are near and dear to you, and enjoy the heck out of them! After all, creating memories with loved ones is what life is ultimately about.
2. Learn to be comfortable with saying "No, thank you."
Although we should absolutely celebrate life's most special moments, not everything around the holidays qualifies as that. Just because someone at work brings in a ton of store-bought Christmas cookies or treats doesn't mean you have to eat them! Learn to be comfortable saying, "no, thank you," and move on with your day. Look, I know this can be a tough one. I'm a Southerner, and Southerners love food. We also love to show our love through food. I know what it's like to feel like you are insulting someone by choosing not to eat their food, but the truth is, you are free to make your own choices, and no one is forcing you to eat anything. Even if that person is the tiniest bit offended in the moment, I promise you they will forget about it the next day.
I've also dealt with all types of food and drink pressure from people for years now. I often choose not to drink, mainly because I prefer to eat my calories, but people just LOVE to rag on you for making those types of decisions. I used to let it bother me, and feel bad for not participating with the crowd. However, I've come to terms with the fact that making those sorts of choices has done amazing things for my health. It means more to me to wake up feeling great than it does to have a few too many drinks or sweets and end up paying for it the morning after.
3. Prioritize protein and veggies.
Attending social functions during the holidays is almost unavoidable. Help yourself out by making smart choices when filling your plate. Load up first with protein and veggies, and eat these first. You may find that after eating these filling, more nutritious options, you don't even want to visit the dessert table. Even if you still have room for the higher calorie food items, you'll more than likely choose a smaller portion.
4. Be active.
Piggybacking off of the previous point, if you know that you are planning to indulge at a holiday party or other social function, attempt to get some sort of workout in earlier in the day. Start your day off with some calorie burning activity, whether it's a home workout, walk at the park, or class at the gym, before heading off for a night fun. Not only will this help you feel great throughout your day and set your mind at ease about those extra calories you might end up consuming, but it will also help offset the calorie surplus that may occur.
5. Find some accountability.
Many of us end up waiting until the New Year to start working towards our fitness and nutrition goals, but why not start now? After all, Summer bodies are made in the Winter. Find an accountability partner that will keep you honest through the season of temptation. Having a workout buddy can motivate you to get up off the couch during these chillier months, and provide you with the little extra push you may need to get your booty to the gym. Find someone that shares similar health goals, and check in on each other throughout the holidays. Share healthy recipes, ask for help when you need it, and cheer each other on as you reach your goals!
6. Ditch the guilt.
I deal with this one in particular from many of my clients. Feeling guilty about something you ate or drank the day or sometimes week before, isn't doing anyone any good. All you are doing is creating unnecessary stress about something you can no longer change. Did you know that stress can cause water retention resulting in weight gain or the inability to lose weight even while in a calorie deficit? That's no good. Get rid of the guilt and try not to stress about the foods you choose to enjoy. Eat the piece of cake, and move on! If you know it probably wasn't the best choice, learn from that action and try to make a better choice next time.
Because treats are often SO accessible during this time of year, sometimes our minds trick us into thinking that we need or want them all the time. Oftentimes, this "hunger" we feel is actually misconstrued thirst. Try drinking a full glass of water, and see if your craving subsists. It's a good habit to keep a water bottle handy at all times. I even have a holiday themed cup that I've been carrying with me since Thanksgiving...I'm so festive. Staying hydrated is a great way to help fight off those pesky cravings for things you will end up regretting later.
So there you have it: my tips and tricks that I abide by during the holiday season to keep myself in check. Trust me, I love me some Christmas cookies and holiday candy. Dessert is my FAVE. I just understand that I can't eat them every day if I want to continue to feel good in my workouts and daily life, and maintain my body composition goals. That doesn't mean I don't ever indulge in the things I love, or find time to celebrate with my loved ones. Life would just not be worth living if I never got to eat another cookie. Be smart, make good nutrition choices, give yourself a break, and set aside some time to sweat. That's how you'll make it through the holiday season perfectly on track to meet all your health and fitness goals.
What are your strategies for avoiding the holiday weight gain? What's your absolute favorite holiday tradition? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!