Ahh the holidays! A time full of family, friends, fun and of course food. But what happens when tradition and obligation conflict with your fitness goals and current lifestyle, and threaten your hard earned progress?
This is a question that I get often from clients. It’s also a situation that I’ve dealt with myself every year since starting my wellness journey. And it can be a tough, tempting and uncomfortable situation at times. One one hand, you may want to indulge, but on the other hand you don’t want to sabotage yourself over a few meals and desserts.
The true is that it’s more than just a few meals. That 2-7 day distraction (multiplied by Thanksgiving and Christmas) is enough to railroad your progress – if you let it. It’s been said that many people easily put on 8-10lbs (that they fail to lose) during the holidays and in just three years that’s 24-30lbs of weight gain. Now imagine what that looks like in 6 years…or ten!
I have good news for you! Despite holiday meals and vacations, it IS possible to stay on track with your fitness gains. I’m going to share my helpful hacks on how to combat calories and avoid social sabotage.
The harder approach:
• Think about what means more to you? A single meal or YOUR BODY & GOALS? It can be hard to stand up for your lifestyle change, especially when the person on the other end is a family member. At the end of the day though, you have to remember that it is YOUR life, YOUR body and it’s been YOUR time and sacrifices, so only your opinion should be the one that matters.
• Don’t allow someone else’s insecurities, weaknesses or opinions control you. Most people give your their opinions based on their very own limitations that they live by. Don’t allow what controls them to control you. Their goals aren’t your goals.
• Speak up and stand up. It’s okay to put your foot down about what you will or won’t do.
• If you want to take your own (healthier) food, DO IT.
• Understand that its perfectly okay If you want to eat less of something or if opt out of going for seconds.
• Understand that in the long run, you will feel no less satisfied by not eating something [that’s not a part of your current eating lifestyle], but you are likely to feel disappointed if you gave into a day of crazy calories.
• KNOW that it’s okay to go against the norm. This year was my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. I explained my change in dietary preference and stood my ground. I had my fill of sides and desserts (without overindulging), took nothing home with me and was still able to enjoy my time with my family.
So I know what you’re thinking, all of those things are hard to do and you may not be ready to deal with the conversations or backlash. And I admit, being able to stand up for your life choices and lifestyle changes can be hard. It takes time to learn not only how to stand your ground, but to truly know that it’s okay to live life your way. So if you are in need of a few “non-confrontational” hacks here ya go:
• Drink LOTS of water. A full glass of water before you eat your meal will help fill you up. Water intake tip: you should be drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water each day.
• Portion control. Each portion should be about the size of your fist or cupped hand.
• Chew, chew and chew some more. Thoroughly chewing your food slows down the eating process, fills you up and leaves you more satisfied.
• Eat a healthier meal BEFORE you attend your social event so that you can tell them you already ate and/or you’ll eat less while there.
• Share the gift of healthier eating and prepare a healthier dish to take with you and share.
• Eat less. If your weakness is macaroni (like me) then get your fill of that and skip out (or significantly cut portions – down to 1/3 or 1/4)some of the other foods that don’t bring you as much savory-joy.
• If its a family dinner then you typically know what foods you traditionally have. You can use this knowledge to plan out your caloric intake for the day. Adjust your earlier meals to allow for that increase in delish you’ll be experiencing later.
• DO NOT TAKE ANY LEFTOVERS HOME WITH YOU.
* This post has been updated from its original publish date 12.20.2018 *
Original Title: How to Stay on Track During the Holidays
Updated Title: Helpful Hacks for Keeping Your Fitness on Track During the Holidays