I get it. Very few people want to think about fitness and weight loss around the holidays.
From Halloween to Christmas my blog’s traffic drops. Clients get lax with their check-ins. And scale cursing commences.
We just want to eat and do what we want and worry about weight loss when the New Year’s resolutions come around.
This same pattern has gone on for 7 years, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Traffic drops in half and then in the weeks after Christmas it quadruples. The same thing can be seen with foot traffic in gyms during that time.
So how do you navigate this fitness lull so you don’t keep back-tracking on your goals? And how do you do it without constantly feeling like you’re being harassed about your body?
Focus On Relative Progress
Progress isn’t always measured in pounds lost. If you typically gain weight during the holidays, then maintaining your weight is progress.
Go into the holidays with realistic expectations on what progress is. If every year during the holidays you gain 5-10lbs, then don’t beat yourself up if you don’t lose any weight this year.
In this case, simply maintaining your weight is progress. It’s an improvement over your past behaviors. Weight loss isn’t the only measure of progress.
Motivation comes in waves. There’s a good chance you’ll get swept up in the New Year’s resolution bug, so if you can just make it through the holidays you will get that added burst of motivation to take you to new weight loss lows.
Gain Some Perspective
We get ourselves so worked up around the holidays and obsessed over what to eat that we eventually say “screw it, it’s not worth it. I’m going to enjoy myself and start over tomorrow (or Monday, or New Years)”.
But those three holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) over the course of two months aren’t going to make or break your progress. It’s what you do the other 58 days that will influence your outcome.
You’ll eat 10x more food in the last two months of the year on the days between the holidays. That’s where the difference is made.
The holidays don’t need to be a source of stress. They’re supposed to be a way for you to relax and enjoy life a little.
So you need to strategically enjoy yourself, do your best, and then move on and get back to doing more of the healthy behaviors you want in your life.
Plan For Fun Foods
You’re going to eat things that don’t mesh with your goals. There’s a lot of social pressure. Our environment changes. And there’s a lot of desire to “let go” on your part too.
The key is to plan for fun foods and eat them in moderate portions. Try to eat what you want, be mindful, and stop eating at 80% full.
This takes mental preparation at a time when you’re thinking rationally. If you wait until the moment comes the emotions will drive impulse behaviors, and I’m willing to bet you won’t like the outcome.
You Can’t Always Control What You Eat
What you eat isn’t always in your control, and that’s OK. Unless you personally prepare and eat every single meal at home, there are going to be times when what’s being served doesn’t really align with what you’re trying to accomplish.
Here’s the thing though – while you can’t always control what you eat, you can always control how you eat. And how you eat has a much bigger influence on your outcome.
What that means is you always have the final say over how much you eat. And you have control over your mindset surrounding food and whether you’re living with an abundance mindset or one that creates scarcity.
Stressing over eating a piece of pie and then guilt eating has a much bigger negative impact on your goals than having an abundance mindset, giving yourself permission to eat a reasonable portion of dessert, eating it mindfully, and then stopping before you’re stuffed.
Same situation. Different perspective. Different outcome over time.
Stay Active Doing Something You Enjoy
Holiday schedules make it tough to get in consistent workouts. So it’s important that you don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude around physical activity during this time.
Just because you can’t strength train 3 days/week doesn’t mean that once/week is bad. Do your best. Try to stay active.
Daily walking through this time period can do wonders. Any extra workouts are an added plus.
Daily activity, however small, coupled with planning and mindful eating will keep you on track until things get back to “normal”. Then once the holiday season is over you won’t be trying to work off all that accumulated weight, and instead can focus on taking your body and mind to the next level.