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Celebrating the Holidays without Losing Ground

Impossible as it seems, the holidays are here. It’s likely a time of year that brings irregular schedules, irregular eating, and maybe even additional stress. So how in the world do you make it through without losing ground on achieving your goals? Here are the keys that have kept me in track when attending holiday events:

  • Make a plan!

  • Know the atmosphere, if possible. Will it be a buffet, a plated dinner, a casual grazing? Being armed with the most knowledge is important. Avoid anything on a toothpick, you can consume a day’s worth of calories before you even make it to the meal. If you are in a grazing atmosphere, make one pass at the food. Eat what you are going to eat and be done, one trip to the food table.

  • Don’t show up hungry. Eat a nice helping of raw veggies before you go…red peppers, cucumber, broccoli, items that are filling but not heavy and high in calories. If you’re not famished when you arrive, it’s much easier to maintain control.

  • Offer to bring a dish to the party. Make it something that aligns with your goals. There will be at least one ‘known’ item there.

  • Drinks…oh the drinks. Put at least one water bottle in your purse. There’s nothing more disappointing than working out, keeping your food in check, and then realizing you are parched and the best option is soda. If you want to enjoy a drink, be aware of the impact. Know how much you are drinking rather than mindlessly chugging calories you didn’t plan on.

  • If you are in a situation where everyone is mingling and grazing throughout the party, physically move yourself away from the food. If it’s a matter of reaching out and grabbing another handful of chips, you are likely to keep doing it. If you are involved in conversation across the room, you won’t be thinking about what’s happening at the food table.

  • Eat slowly enough to enjoy everything. I can be guilty of eating seconds of everything purely because I scarfed down the first round so fast that I feel like we should be sitting at the table longer so I keep eating. Allow yourself to actually realize you are full before you keep eating.

  • Decide what is worth it to you. I don’t count calories on an actual holiday, but I do think about what I’m willing to splurge on. For me, if it’s something I have many other chances at throughout the year, I typically don’t eat it on a holiday. A roll? I can get that anytime. Baked pineapple? Just once a year, worth enjoying a reasonable portion.

  • Schedule your workout. It may mean waking up an hour earlier on the holiday but in the end, you will feel great and you will be glad you did. Getting in a solid workout before a holiday meal is helpful to me because it gets my blood flowing and I’m less likely to go totally overboard if I’ve already burned some calories.

  • ‘Check yourself before you wreck yourself.’ One meal or even one day is not going to destroy you. The problem starts when the holiday creeps. The food and depending on your holiday schedule, lack of workouts creeps into the day after the holiday, and then the day after that, and so on. The deal I make with myself is yes, no calorie counting on the holiday. But I need to be sure the workouts still happen and my normal eating habits must return when I wake up the next day. Sometimes it means I turn down the offer of going home with leftovers. I find I enjoy the holiday itself and the special foods I wouldn’t normally eat even more if I know that I will wake up the next day and jump right back in to my routine. I make sure that I have the necessary foods in my pantry ahead of time to jump back in the next day.

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