Do you love the holidays as much as I do? The food, the traditions, and the memories with family and friends… there’s so much to love! But what about the annual holiday weight gain? No thanks! But that doesn’t have to happen! Read on for 10 tips to holiday-proof your health.

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The average person gains 6 pounds over the holiday season, and it’s easy to see why… tempting treats start showing up at the office, a few extra drinks at holiday parties and a busy schedule filled with shopping and get-togethers makes squeezing in exercise extra tough. It’s a disastrous combination! Before you know it, you’re skipping workouts, sneaking holiday treats, and feeling all the guilt.

How to Holiday-Proof Your Health

Keep your goals conservative.

Don’t try to lose weight during the holiday season. Instead, just try to maintain your weight. In order to lose fat, you must be in a caloric deficit. And who wants to do that with temptations everywhere you look?! Instead, enjoy the holidays, but don’t feel miserable by depriving yourself!

It’s tempting to just throw in the towel this time of year and resolve to start over with exercise and healthy eating on January 1st. But don’t do it! You can get a head start on your weight loss resolutions for the new year AND still enjoy the holiday season with these tips:

1. Set goals

Use the Goal Setting worksheet in the FREE Health and Fitness Bundle to set specific and measurable goals. Determine your action steps to help you meet that goal (i.e. “exercise 4 times a week,” “only eat out at a restaurant once a week,” “pack healthy lunches for work”) and why it’s important to you.

Keep this sheet somewhere you’ll see it often to constantly remind you of your goals and why they’re important to you.

2. Allow yourself a few indulgences

Think of the foods that truly epitomize the holiday or occasion for you (things you look forward to all year, like Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or eggnog on Christmas eve) and plan them in advance.

Before any party, get-together, or other holiday festivities with food, decide exactly what you want beforehand or survey the buffet right away. Start with veggies and some protein to take the edge off your hunger. Serve yourself a small portion of your chosen indulgence, slow down while eating, and truly savor the flavor. And don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings for not eating their homemade goodies (they probably won’t even notice). 

3. Don’t skip your workouts

A moderate to high-intensity workout can burn 600+ calories an hour, but don’t put yourself through a long, grueling workout if you’re strapped for time. You can still get great benefits from a quick 20-30 minute workout at home and burn 200-300 calories. Calorie-burning exercise will be your secret weapon to keep up with the richer holiday foods and drinks you’ll be consuming. You’ll also be less likely to overeat and undo all your hard work if you have just sweated through a workout.

Write down which days you’ll exercise and what you’ll do on the Workout Calendar. Focus on resistance training so any extra calories you consume will hopefully contribute to building lean muscle (which increases metabolism and aids in fat loss!) and add in a few days of cardio, even just a few brisk walks around the neighborhood. 

If you need some guidance on what to do, check out my Lean Fit 1.0 Home Workout Guide!

Or try my favorite workout app Aaptiv FREE for 30 days 🙂

4. Make a Meal Plan

You don’t have to prep all your meals in one day, but definitely plan out your meals, grocery list, and workouts for the week. Use the Weekly Meal Planner and Grocery List from the FREE Health and Fitness Bundle to keep track of them and post it in the kitchen where you’ll see it every day. Not only will this keep you on track, but it will also significantly reduce the stress of not knowing what you’re having for dinner and save time by decreasing emergency grocery runs,

5. Keep a food diary

Write down every single thing you eat, even if it’s just a few nuts. Keep track of foods in the MyFitnessPal app or use the Daily Journal sheets from the FREE Health and Fitness Bundle to assess how why you ate, how hungry you were and the nutritional rating your meal. Use the Weekly-Check In to reflect each week, identify trends, see what’s working and what’s causing struggle so you can tweak your strategy or adjust your goals.

6. Assess your hunger

Hungry + tempting foods = a huge test of willpower! Drink water and have a snack with protein and fiber beforehand so you can have more self-control and only indulge in 1 or 2 small portions of things you really want. Never show up at a party or starving!

7. Step on the scale twice each week

I usually wouldn’t recommend getting on the scale this often, but during the holidays weighing yourself is a good way to stay on track with your goals. If you see the scale start to creep, you can take steps to get back on track, for example, reigning in your calories for a day or two, drinking more water or engaging in more exercise. If you want a more accurate way to measure your progress, take measurements or use a body fat analyzer or smart scale (I love this FITINDEX Bluetooth scale for less than $30) and write them down each week in the Measurement Tracker.

8. Get rid of leftovers

If you have unhealthy leftovers sitting around, you’re much more likely to indulge (I know I’ve been guilty of eating leftover baby shower cake for lunch!). Freeze them, give them away or toss them. It’s not worth the temptation!

9. Find an accountability partner

Every time you weigh yourself or exercise, tell a friend or family member, put it out there on Facebook, or even email ME! That kind of intense accountability will give you the willpower to avoid grazing on cookies or fudge in the office breakroom and make you think twice about skipping a workout!

10. Focus on Fun, Not Food

Remember to keep the focus of your holiday festivities on having fun and celebrating with family and friends and less on the foods surrounding these events.

You CAN survive the holidays without gaining unwanted weight! Try some of these tips to keep your health a priority and you’ll be 3 steps ahead of everyone else on January 1st! Moreover, meeting your goals is so empowering and a great way to keep your motivation high as you move into the New Year to help you tackle even bigger goals!

How do you keep your health and fitness in check during the holiday? Let me know anything else to add to the list!