I find myself spending a lot of time these days talking about getting through the holidays. There is so much anxiety surrounding these holiday parties that half my patients/clients wish they could avoid the festivities altogether.
I’m here to tell you that avoiding the holidays is not necessary. You can celebrate with friends and family without sabotaging your hard-earned weight loss efforts. I even think it’s possible to lose weight during this food-focused season. All you need are some strategies and techniques, a bit of a mindset change and some discipline. Are you in? If so, continue reading for my tried-and-true tricks. They really do work. I know because I tested them on myself last holiday season and rang in the New Year fitter than ever.
Strategy #1: Do not let the holidays be permission to go off your plan. If you really think about it, the holidays are not about the food. It’s true that certain foods are associated with each celebration, but that’s not what defines the day. You do not have to gorge yourself with Grandma’s pumpkin pie to show thanks on Thanksgiving. Focus on friends, family and just being together. Action Plan: Eat pristinely (100% according to your program) for every meal and snack in which you have complete control.
Strategy #2: Bring something you know you can eat. If you’re not at your own home, you may have very little control over what is served. In this case, your best option is to bring along a dish to share that fits your program. I always bring crudité and a healthy dip along with a salad and sometimes some roasted vegetables. Harried hostesses always appreciate the healthy additions.
Strategy #3: Have a plan and stick to it. You sit down at the Thanksgiving table laden with turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cream-based vegetable dishes and fresh-baked bread. What are you going to do? If you have a plan of action, you will get through this unscathed – without a plan you may feel like a deer caught in headlights. Remember, it’s all about choices. And, you choose what goes in your mouth. No one else can make you eat anything that you don’t want to.
Strategy #4: Focus on lean and green OR strict portion control. Your best strategy for large holiday meals is to fill your plate with lean protein, greens and vegetables and take teeny tiny samples of the more decadent holiday favorites. It’s all about balance.
Strategy #5: Embrace the power of exercise. No matter what, stay active! Schedule walks and workouts like it’s your job. Moving your body will not only burn off extra calories, but it will help keep the inevitable holiday stress at bay. I start Thanksgiving Day with a “Turkey Trot” – an organized, 5 mile run around a scenic lake. The run raises money for childhood cancer and so I get benefits in spades; it’s good for my mind, body and soul.
In the scenario above, where you sit down to a meal with nary of healthy options, here are your techniques:
- Eat something healthy before you go (never arrive ravenous)
- Drink lots of water, seltzer or unsweetened herbal tea
- Bring a healthy dish and load up on that
- Choose 1-3 of your very favorite holiday foods and have a taste of each (that’s really all it takes to satisfy)
- Start the day with some activity, take a walk after dinner, and focus on moving more/sitting less
- Enjoy the day with friends and family and take the focus off of the food
Relish in your accomplishment when you step on the scale that week and it stays the same or goes down.