The holiday season is upon us! This time of year has always created a unique barrier for my clients. Whether it is a work party, a best friend’s holiday get together, a family dinner, or a New Year’s party; holiday parties tend to get in the way the routine you have built for healthy eating and active living. This barrier is also not short lived as some holiday parties start as early as mid November and carry on into the New Year, which is at the very least, 6 weeks of holiday merriment! Now there’s nothing wrong with a good holiday party, but often people can feel derailed when presented with treats and “once in a while” foods at every corner. It can feel impossible to stick to your nutrition plan and also challenging to find time to keep up with fitness goals. In this guide you will find helpful tips that you can use to help maintain (key word moving forward!) the progress you have made so far.
1. Nix the idea of a weight loss goal during the holidays! Say what? Yes, you read correct. Instead set a goal to maintain your current weight during the holidays. This first guideline sets the tone for a happy holiday season. Here’s the hard truth. Losing weight during the holidays is really hard! Weight loss can continue once the hustle and bustle of the holidays is done, and when daily structure to your life has returned. Use this time to relax, and enjoy family and friends, and reflect on all the hard work you have already done.
2. Maintain physical activity up to Christmas Day (at least!). Consistency is key during this time of year. Connect with a friend, join a small group training class or have your personal trainer ensure your current training program ends as close to Christmas as possible. Having an end date to your workout plan will keep you committed to your workouts right up to when holidays kick into high gear. Secondly, make sure your new program starts back up right after Christmas. If you don’t work with a personal trainer now is the time to sign up for a fitness class or make a date with your training partner the first week after the holidays. This will ensure you jump right back into your consistent workouts. Book the appointment and write it in your calendar now! Looking for a fun and motivating class to join? Check out Women & Weights SMall Group Training!
3. Plan ahead! This is a skill I teach all my clients to practice year round, BUT, during the holidays it is especially important. Plan ahead for the week and ask yourself: how many parties/work lunches/gatherings/potlucks are you attending? The more party commitments you have, the more important it becomes to maintain your activity level, if not increase it. Do the holiday parties fall during your lunchtime workout? Your evening fitness class? Plan ahead for this and move your workouts around to maintain your activity level for that busy week.
4. Maintain your nutrition plan. This one is big! Holiday parties typically fall on a lunch or supper meal. This still leaves 2 meals and 2 -3 snacks that are still within your control. There is no need to fall away from your typical grocery shop, meal prep and meals during the holidays. Remember the main goal is healthy, balanced nutritious meals that provide your body the fuel it needs to function. Continue to have healthy nutrient dense foods at your finger tips for when hunger strikes.
5. Bring your own dish! Potlucks are a great opportunity to ensure there is a main item you know is healthy and inline with your nutrition goals. It is also a great opportunity to share a recipe with family and friends! You can build your plate around the dish you bring and use the other potluck dishes as small sides. Need some recipe ideas for your next shindig? Check out the recipe tab at www.healthy-eating-active-living.com
6. Take dessert home. Holidays = dessert, I get it. And they can be EVERYWHERE. Your partner brings some home to share with you, your coworkers bring them to work for the office break room, a customer brings in home baked goodies to show appreciation… I could go on. Whatever the form, the dessert table can seem to have a magnetic pull that keeps bringing you back, and before you know it you’ve had more than your fill of those sweet treats. My tip is to leave dessert until you’re ready to leave the party (or office). Choose whatever you want, and take it home and enjoy it. This removes the temptation, and ability to go back for more.
7. Low Calorie Holiday Drinks. From hot chocolate and lattes to wine, beer and cocktails. These drinks are loaded with sugar and seem to always go down way too easy. Keeping thirst at bay can prevent reaching for glass after glass of wine and spirits during your holiday get together, so make sure to stay hydrated and drink at least 1-2 litres of water each day. When it comes to the hot drinks, stick with coffee or teas without added sugar. For those dinner bevies, choose zero calorie mix like soda or still water, and add a slice of lemon or lime for taste. Follow the 1 to 1 ratio by alternating alcoholic drinks with water. For wine, use smaller glass and sip slowly. Finally set a drink maximum and stick to it. 2-3 drinks at a holiday party should provide plenty of merriment.
Check out these drink options, all under 100 calories!
1 oz vodka and soda water with a lime wedge
1 oz Rum mixed with diet coke (or diet beverage of choice)
4 oz champagne
Miller lite (340 ml) bottle
3 oz dry white wine mixed with soda water
8. Use the convenience of at home workouts. The holidays are busy, and sometimes it can be hard to make it to your fitness class, or to the gym. This doesn’t mean you should go without a workout though! Click here for an at home workout when you are short for time and can’t make it to the gym. Maintaining the habit of working out during the holidays is what will keep everything on track!
9. Choose a smaller plate. At home or a holiday party, starting with a smaller plate helps to ensure appropriate portion sizes. You will likely find you eat less and still feel satisfied with your meal. Also be sure to include your greens! Find the vegetables and fill half your plate. Vegetables are low in calories and very filling. This allows you to have more control over the holiday calories. Starting with a simple salad, and then moving onto the main meal works too!
10. Set your boundaries. This holiday season, and maybe ones that have passed, you may have found yourself dealing with the snack pushers. These are the people who insist you eat with them. The cakes, cookies, pizza, doughnuts galore that is brought into the work and home environment. They come to your office or desk with treats in hand, and no matter how many times you say no, they insist you eat. This can be an extremely frustrating and awkward experience. Here is what you say to them ‘So and so, I have been working really hard to make healthier food choices, and I would love if you can help me continue to do so by not offering me anymore Christmas treats’. Alternatively you can ask coworkers to wrap you up a piece, and save the sweet treat for another day.
I hope you find these tips helpful to thrive through the holidays! All in all it is important to remember that the holidays are a time to enjoy friends, family AND food. Taking part in the preparation of the meals and treats that are shared is an opportunity to create meaningful memories. Happy holidays!!