1) Plan Ahead – In most situations, preparation is a key to success. This tenet holds true when aiming to celebrate through the holidays unscathed. Know your schedule. With exercise it is often best to get it done in the morning before the daily happenings really get going. Odds are you will have lost any real workout motivation once food, drinks and fun are to be had. Now, if your family tradition is to stay up late to play Charades or to annually watch “The Wizard of Oz,” don’t bank on being rearing to go at 6am the next morning. Lay out the weekend schedule, plan for exercise. Your body and your patience will be better for it!
2) Be Choosy – Quality over quantity. Years ago, I had a client share with me a pre-Thanksgiving exercise that she did with Weight Watchers. Participants were given a paper plate and asked to draw their future meal. They then calculated the nutritional values. For many, this is eye opening. The next step is the ability to edit their plate, swapping this for that and changing portion sizes. This plate planner is a helpful tool and ties tip #1 & 2 together. If you are only “lukewarm” about pumpkin pie, skip it to allow something that makes your mouth water. I have gone from sibling “roll-eating-competitions” (can you say carb-induced coma) to skipping the stuff(ing) that just isn’t special to me.
3) Take a Timeout – Two thoughts here. First, after you’ve devoured round one of the delicious meal, sip some water, chat with dinner guests, whatever it takes to slow things down. Wait the 20 minutes to make sure your “I’m satisfied” sensor has a chance to work. My family motto growing up was, “The fastest get the best.” I know, it sounds extremely Darwinian, as well as extremely intense for a family of runners. I no longer fear that if I actually chew my food, I will somehow be left in the dinner dust, yet I eat fast. So this one needs to be thoughtful on my part. Second, one of the best but often most stressful things about the holidays is family. Take a step back so you don’t lose your cool when you are asked the same question about the topic you are most hoping to avoid by the relative you are also most hoping to avoid.
4) Make Rules – I don’t typically like to call food “bad” (except soda, definitely no redeeming qualities there) or completely off-limits. I believe that being overly restrictive comes back to bite you. The Holiday Season is just that, an entire season. Usually Thanksgiving kicks it off, although in recent years it feels more like Halloween candy arrives in stores in early September, followed quickly by autumn’s pumpkin beverages at the local coffee shop and then all-Fall baking in your kitchen. I like home-baked cookies as much as the next girl (maybe more), but I like to experience the festive treats without letting it overtake what ends up being weeks. My rule: holiday treats at Holiday events. Christmas cookie at a Christmas party, okay. Christmas cookie at lunch on Wednesday? No. These guidelines help me. Look at your life, your goals and create something that works for you.
5) Be Thankful, Joyful, and Don’t Take It Too Seriously – Acknowledge and appreciate your many blessings! Practicing gratitude will boost your happiness – true story, and there is totally evidence to back it up! Check out my high school friend and Going Back for Seconds: Crave-Worthy Plant-Based Recipes Without All the Restrictions cookbook author Laurel Moll’s recent blog on her 5-minute gratitude practice. If you don’t get in that predawn workout, if somehow the pumpkin pie and apple pie had your name all over them and your full-o-meter was busted…get over it. Plan better next time, and start over...but don’t wait until next year, even if it is just a few weeks away!