Three tips to avoid the 'holiday 5'

Three tips to avoid the holiday five.


The season of indulgence is here!  During this time of year, I spend a lot of time discussing strategies to help my clients stay on track with their health goals.  It’s a challenge but it’s very much achievable if you follow these tips:  I’ve also provided some common scenario with strategies!

  1. Get creative with sticking to your normal routine – One of the main frustrations is that during this time of year, there is so much extra added to your schedule.  Be as strict with your schedule as you can.  What do I mean by this? 
    • Scenario 1: You usually go to the gym 3x a week in the mornings, and you have 2 parties to attend this week that will keep you up late.   Strategy: Don’t change your frequency, just adjust your schedule to get your 3 workouts in either on other days or at a different time of day.    
    • Scenario 2: You normally walk your dog every night but you’ve got family in town for the holidays and you might feel like you should sit and talk with them instead.  Strategy: Don’t change your routine, ask your family to join you for your evening stroll.  You can enjoy the Christmas decorations in the neighborhood as you catch up with your sister!
    • Scenario 3: You’ve changed to eating an egg with some avocado for breakfast because it keeps you from reaching for the donuts in the office due to a mid-morning crash.  Your neighbor just dropped off a coffee cake.  Strategy: Keep your normal breakfast routine, cut the coffee cake into easy to grab slices and bring it to your office for your co-workers to enjoy during their mid morning crash.  Love coffee cake?  I’ll get to that in a second…
  2. Earn your holiday indulgences – This ‘earn it’ strategy came about as I started battling with my 3 year-old about eating his vegetables.   Often times the lure of earning something indulgent with good behavior is enough to do the trick.  Then I started thinking “why don’t we do this with ourselves?”.  It’s all to common that once we leave our parent’s house and enter into adulthood, we start acting like 3 year olds again.  Weekend Netflix marathon, fast food lunch, second serving of pie… we just enjoy these indulgences without any good behavior to earn them.   Kind of makes cause of the freshman fifteen pretty clear doesn’t it????  This is an easy concept to apply all the time, but especially during the holidays!  What do I mean by this?
    • Scenario 1:  You’ve got a holiday party tonight and you know the food is going to be delicious.  Strategy:  Go above your norm on either your workout or your steps today.  Make sure your net activity will negate the food you will be indulging on during the party.
    • Scenario 2:  Your family has a tradition of doing a movie/football marathon Christmas Day.  Strategy: Grab your foam roller and plop yourself down on the floor during the movie.  Use the day as a recovery day and spend some time working on your tight muscles and stretching.  Between games / movies see if you can rally the troops to do a quick walk around the block.
    • Scenario 3:  The alcohol is always flowing at the holiday parties.    Strategy:  Earn your first (and each subsequent) glass of alcohol with a large glass of water. 
  3. Enjoy your holiday indulgences - Yes, you read that right.  It’s Christmas and I’m not a Grinch. Someone you love always prepares your favorite dessert over the holidays.  If this is your favorite dessert and you only get it once a year, savor it!  This does however mean that you should be making some adult decisions.  What do I mean by this?
    • Scenario 1: You usually inhale your favorite dessert because you’re guilty about indulging but you always wind up going back for seconds (or thirds). Strategy: You’ve followed tips 1 and 2, and this is your favorite dessert.  See how much enjoyment you ca get out of that one slice.  Take a small bite, let the flavors roll around your tongue.  See if you can pick up each of the different ingredients.  Take time to truly enjoy the decadent masterpiece that is your favorite dessert.  This strategy usually leaves you pretty satisfied and you don’t need to go back for more.
    • Scenario 2:  Christmas dinner is so good!  You usually wind up having to unbutton your pants to make more room for all the food you ate.  Strategy:  Slowing down is a great way to make sure that you don’t eat.  Our body needs about 20 minutes to tell our brain that we are full.  If you are shoveling in the holiday chow, you’ll fill your belly up well before your brain has the time to tell you that you are full.  Take small bites, chew your food at least 10 times before swallowing, put your fork down between bites, drink from your glass of water each time you switch foods, carry on a conversation with your friends and family… any of these strategies will allow your body time to tell your brain that you’re full.   
    • Scenario 3:  The Holiday season has so many goodies and you want to try them all!  Strategy: Discriminate and negotiate.  Take time to make a decision about whether that processed cookie in a tin is really worth it.  If it is, do you really need to eat the whole cookie or will just a taste do?  Ask yourself these questions:  1.  Will this food help me get to my goal faster?  2. What is a better decision that I can make?  It may be that you can avoid a food completely knowing that you will be eating a much better version later on in the season or it may mean that you eat ½ of what you would normally eat.  The choice is yours!


Hopefully these strategies will provide some help over the holidays and you’ll approach year end with the momentum to set and crush new goals in the new year!

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