There is no denying that the holidays pose major challenges in regards to our fitness and weight loss journeys. But just because we haven’t been as successful as we’d like to be in the past at staying on track with our goals through the holiday seasons, doesn’t mean we can’t do it now. You can continue to make progress and stay fit and rise above the temptations.
Here are 8 steps to staying on track over the holidays:
1. Make Exercise a non-negotiable
There are many reasons that exercise should be a non-negotiable for you as you seek to stay on track over the holidays, but perhaps the most significant is the fact that working out motivates us towards healthier eating. The struggle with diet tends to be the biggest factor in knocking women off course with their fitness and weight loss, but by getting in a good sweat each day, we send messages to our brain that we are committed to our goals.
And let’s be honest, we are going to have some treats (or at least we should!). It’s a holiday! We will discuss how to manage this in the steps below, but it’s also important to make sure we are exercising daily to help burn off some of the extra calories we will likely consume.
Your workouts might look a bit different than usual over the holidays (specifically if you’re traveling), and that is totally okay! Aim to get your heart rate up for at least 20-30 minutes a day, whether you are swimming or snowboarding or hiking or doing your typical cardio or weight routine! No need for hour long exercise sessions, increase the intensity of your activity and keep it short and sweet so you can go spend your time with family and friends!
And one last pro tip! Exercise early! First thing in the morning before the festivities begin! Even if you typically workout in the evenings, over the holidays you are so much more likely to stay on track if you wake up early and get that workout in. As the day goes on, there will be more and more temptations to skip out.
If you want stay on track over the holidays, make exercise non-negotiable.
2. Drink tons of water
Staying hydrated will help curb your cravings and keep you from feeling hungry and making your way to the appetizer table every five minutes! You want to shoot for half of your body weight (in lbs), in ounces of water each day. So for someone who weighs 150lbs, they would shoot to consume 75 ounces of water.
Carrying a water bottle around with you and having it available at all times will help you make sure you are reaching your water goal for the day (check out #4 in this post to find my favorite shaker/water bottles)! Grab a straw or toss in some lemon and get sippin’!
3. Eat with a plan
If you want to successfully enjoy the holidays and stay on track with your fitness and nutrition, you need to think ahead on how you are going to approach the inevitable challenges that will come up, specifically regarding food.
First of all, whenever possible you want to bring a healthy dish to share. For most of us, holidays are a time when we are surrounded by calorie-heavy foods and endless sugar. We can’t control what other people bring to the table, but we want to make sure we bring something nutritious. This ensures that no matter what, we will at least have something healthy to feast on alongside whatever else is served.
Second, don’t gather around the food! Of course this doesn’t apply if you’re sitting down for a family meal around a dining table, but we’re talking about the popular holiday buffet line that fills the kitchen island or the outdoor picnic table! Fill up your plate, grab your drink, and go find somewhere away from the food to sit down and eat. This will help reduce the urge to grab for more food than necessary.
Third, eat like you would at a sit-down restaurant where you order one meal and when it’s gone, you may or may not choose dessert and then you’re done. Avoid the temptation to eat buffet-style where you just keep going back for more. Just like you would hesitate paying for a second meal at a restaurant, consider the cost to your fitness and weight loss journey if you go back for a second or third plate.
Forth, eat the healthiest foods first. The more you can fill up on the fruits and veggies, the less room you’ll have for all the other stuff!
Lastly, really dial in your nutrition on the days that bookend the parties and events on your schedule. This will give you a little more wiggle-room to enjoy the holiday meals guilt-free!
4. Go easy on the beverages
If you love to share a glass of wine with your sister or a cocktail with your best girlfriends over the holidays, girl go for it! To stay on track, though, here’s a few tips!
- Stick to lower calorie cocktails such as vodka soda or gin and tonic
- Choose red wine over white
- Limit to 1 or 2 drinks for the day
5. Moderate indulging, EXTRAVAGANT enjoying
Holidays are meant for celebration and good food and great company! If we are not greatly enjoying ourselves over the holidays then we aren’t doing it right!
Give yourself permission to indulge in moderation. Pick and choose what is worth having and what you’ll pass on this time (it won’t be the last time you’ll have an opportunity to eat the double fudge brownies). You are serious about your health and weight loss goals, so you’re not going to eat and drink it all, but you sure should treat yourself a little!
Grace and flexibility are a must. Ditch your all-or-nothing mindset right now! If you were to get one flat tire in your car, you wouldn’t throw your hands up in defeat and slash the other three tires! Same thing goes for your health and weight loss journey. If you slip up and find that halfway through the day you have already started to fall of track, you go look in the mirror and remind yourself of your goals and your plan and pick yourself right back up and start fresh.
Grace trumps guilt every day of the week on your journey to success.
6. say “No, Thank You!”
This one use to be super hard for me and it’s definitely a major challenge for many other women as well. Why? Because we tend to overthink things and we give too much power to other people.
“They worked so hard to make that beautiful cheesecake, it would be rude for me to say no.”
“He brought me another drink even though I didn’t ask for one, it wouldn’t be very nice for me to turn it away.”
“I don’t see my family that often and they try to talk me into skipping my workouts to go do other things.”
It’s not rude. It’s not personal. And it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable! Your health matters. Other people only get to influence your choices and your fitness journey if you choose to let them. So make your plan and stick to it. Sometimes saying “no, thank you” is necessary for success.
7. Focus small
Sometimes the idea of living a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming, especially when the temptations are the strongest such as during a holiday season. Just focus on today. Commit to overcoming the challenges and doing the hard things right now. Today. Once you do that, you will build up a little more confidence to tackle all of the tomorrows with success!
8. No to-go boxes
You know all the holiday goodies that are leftover? They go home with someone else. You’ve got goals and the holiday treats are just for that…the holidays! Now it’s time to get back on your meal plan!