It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year! I don’t know about you, but I consider the “holidays” from the start of Thanksgiving week trough New Year’s Eve, until I head back to school in January. That’s a long time! Almost 7 weeks this year!
Seven weeks full of family, festivities, traditions...lots of indulgent foods, holiday drinks, and oh the cookies! It’s also a time when most Americans put on a few pounds of extra winter insulation.
When you have set your mind toward making healthy changes and creating your transformation, this time of year can also mean added pressure, falling “off track” and the frustrations that ensue when you struggle to make celebrations balance out with your work toward your goals.
Here’s the thing, though...
You absolutely CAN get through the holiday season with your health journey in mind, prioritize your program, and STILL enjoy celebrations with family.
A lot of it has to do with managing your expectations and setting your priorities to serve your heart, your body, and your goals. That’s why this article isn’t “5 Ways to Survive the Holidays”. This season isn’t about surviving, but rather, about reconnecting with your family and traditions… all of these are acts of love, as are your healthy habits. So, there is no reason that this season should be a throwaway.
Instead, try out these healthy perspectives that will keep you moving forward!
First, remember all of the good that you are doing for your body already.
You have decided to dig in and invest in your health by nourishing your body with healthy, plant-based foods, and by working out consistently to gain strength, lose fat and transform your body… woohoo that is awesome! You have been doing amazing! All of that work, and those new habits are not for nothing! Keeping as much of it rolling through the holidays will be a huge change from the holiday seasons of your past!
Drink ALLLLL the water!
Eat as many veggie-filled meals as possible
Get enough sleep
Keep your body moving
In the face of all of the holiday feasts, choosing to continue eating a plant-based or plant-focused diet means that you are still making the healthiest choice possible for your body. So that will already set you one step ahead.
Indulge in your favorites and don’t feel bad about it, but keep the holiday celebration indulgences to only the day of.
These holidays are on a specific date on the calendar, so celebrate on that day… not the whole week before and after. I think that you should 100% enjoy all of your favorite holiday treats, even if they don’t necessarily fit into your nutrition program. Food and eating is about more than just the physical fuel going in to your body, so don’t miss out on your mom’s famous dessert just because you have no idea what the macros are. Enjoy it and savor it!
Be mindful of your hunger. Fill your plate with all of your favorites. Nothing is off limits, especially the things you’ve been looking forward to most. Eat it slowly, and really savor all of your favorites. Then, when you are going back for seconds, pause and ask yourself if you are full or satisfied. We are all going to over eat on Thanksgiving, let’s just accept that now. However, we don’t normally have 4 platefulls at dinner, so there really isn’t any need to do so today. We all also know how awful it feels to be so stuffed that you’re uncomfortable in your pants. Maybe by paying attention to what your body is telling us, we can find a happy balance; feeling satisfied, but not engorged.
After the meal, don’t take home any leftovers (no matter how much your mom or grandma insists). Don’t let the holiday treats spill into other days so you can get right back to your regularly scheduled programming without missing a beat. You had the famous tater tot casserole, and it was awesome, but tomorrow have your normal green smoothie for breakfast. Leave those leftovers to your teenage cousin who plays 7 sports and eats like 3 NFL linemen.
Stay active, even if it isn’t your regular program for the week.
With all of the schedule disruptions going on this time of year, it may be impossible for you to get in to the gym for a solid session or to find 45min of uninterrupted time at home to get that workout in. Don’t stress it! Just do something to keep your body moving.
Cut the workout in half or set a timer to smash it out a little quicker
Take a walk or hike with the fam
Play some touch football
Random Turkey Trot 5k? Perfect
Raking leaves or shoveling snow is a great workout!
Turbo shopping on Black Friday totally counts as activity
Sure, it’s not your prescribed workout program, but it will keep your blood pumping and your energy up. When you feel energized like that, it is easier to keep the momentum going and to make healthier choices all week long. Your coach should also be able to help you pare down your program if needed to make it more attainable during an especially busy week.
Maintain, don’t gain! It’s still progress!
Holiday weight gain is real for us! Most Americans put on 3-8 extra lbs over the holidays. If holiday weight gain is something that you have struggled with in years past, then simply maintaining this year means you made progress!
Changing your expectations from wanting to see measurable progress to aiming for maintenance for the next couple of weeks will release you of any pressure or disappointment that may come if you don’t lose weight or inches this month. Keeping your mind and heart happy will lower all kind of stress associated with time of year, making it easier to keep going. No giving up this year!
Remember your self-love. Be kind and forgiving to yourself.
Most importantly, if you find yourself not adhering to any of this, that’s OK! Forgive yourself and remember that the fitness program will still be there when things calm down. The things you have been doing lately to make healthy changes, will still work even after taking a few days off here and there. Enjoying the holidays with your family is not a set back. Progress will ebb and flow, and maybe this is just an ebb for the season. You’ll get right back to it.
If you know yourself to be someone who has emotional reactions to weighing yourself or taking any kinds of measurements, then do yourself a favor the season and DON’T! Save yourself the trouble of that kind of emotional up/down. When you have had a few days or weeks back to consistency, then see where things stand. But right now, don’t let that silly piece of equipment ruin your family celebrations.
When you’re invested in making a healthy transformation, any bump in the road can feel like a huge set back. Literally NOTHING will EVER set you back as long as you keep returning back to your health journey. This time of year is so wonderful for connection, tradition, quality time, and warmth. It shouldn’t be a period of frustration, anxiety, or disappointment, at least when it comes to your body.
Take a healthy perspective on how to manage this time of year, and let go of your high pressure expectations. Don’t miss out on anything, and stay mindful your self-love motivated healthy choices. Enjoy your holidays, and get right back to your program afterwards.
You got this!
Happy Holiday Season, with all my love.