In the past 4 years that I have been working as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer, the season of holiday parties 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 of 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! When you also factor in that many people belong to various social groups, these holiday parties tend to be never ending and occurring quite frequently. 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. I have 8 tips that you can use to help maintain (key word moving forward!) the progress you have made so far.
1. IF weight loss is your current goal, set a goal to maintain your current weight during the holidays. 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.
2. Maintain physical activity up to Christmas Day (at least). 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 the first Monday of the New Year. Better yet, book a session with your personal trainer for that day to ensure you jump right back into your consistent workouts. I always take my clients as close to Christmas as possible and book them in for their first session right after the New Year. My job is to keep my clients committed and motivated, especially at the busiest time of the year.
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/gathers/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 lunch time workout? Your evening fitness class? Try to plan ahead for this and move your workouts around to maintain your activity level for that busy week.
4. Maintain your nutrition plan. Holiday parties typically fall on a lunch or supper meal. This 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.
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 also build your plate around the dish you bring and use the other potluck dishes as small sides.
6. Take dessert home. 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. Choose whatever you want, and take it home and enjoy it. This removes the temptation, and ability to go back for more.
7. 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.
8. Choose a smaller plate. Starting with a smaller plate helps to ensure appropriate portion sizes. Also be sure to include your greens! Find the vegetables and add them to your plate. Starting with a simple salad, and then moving onto the main meal works too.
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!!