No doubt, October 31st to December 31st is a very busy time for many people. You’ve got parties and shopping, more parties and a whole lot of family and friend time. While these festivities may make you want to hang up your gym shoes and put MyFitnessPal away, this is the MOST important time to stick to your healthy routine. Not only does it limit the possibility of holiday weight-gain, but also may help you better manage holiday stress.

For the record, most people gain a pound or two during this time of the year and never lose it.  This means your yearly weight gain cycle could be directly related to the Holidays and we are going to help you prevent that this year!

Don’t Turn the Holiday Season into an Off-Season

All those good habits you’ve been working on all year shouldn’t be abandoned just because you’re going to be tempted by the holiday cookies from your neighbor or the cocktails you plan on enjoying at the office party. Instead of saying the heck with it, work out as often as possible and stick to your meal plan most days of the week. Make it a measurable goal. For example, plan to workout more days than you rest every week and apply the 80/20 rule with hitting your macros. It is best to write these goals down. Mirror sticky notes are the best :) People who put their goals in writing are more likely to accomplish them.

Plan Ahead and Save Your Macros

If you’re headed to a party and want to indulge, save your macros. As long as it fits your plan, you’re A-OK. But don’t skip meals. Not eating all day may set you up for failure leaving you way too hungry and lead to overindulging. Instead, fill up on lean proteins and veggies such as a veggie omelet for breakfast and a salad (low fat dressing) with tuna at lunch. This leaves you with plenty of carbs and fat to satisfy your holiday eating needs. Protein and veggies help you feel and stay full without costing you too many of your macros, while also limiting the risk of eating too much.

Healthy Party Food Choices

While it’s OK to indulge at a party, you don’t have to abandon your healthy food choices all together. If it’s a party at a friends house, offer to bring a dish. That way you’ll have at least one thing that fits your plan. Bring roasted veggies, a crudite platter, bruschetta, shrimp cocktail, baked apples or a crockpot of your favorite meat.

If it’s a catered party, you may have to make do with what’s available. Load up on healthy proteins such as chicken or fish and lots of veggies. Baked sweet and white potatoes make a healthy low fat carb. Rice, mashed potatoes and stuffing are OK, but will cost you some fat. Keep your macros in order by keeping your portions reasonable. A closed fist is equal to a portion of starch and veggies, while the palm of your hand is equal to 3 ounces of meat.

Healthier Party Drinks

The adult beverages at holiday parties may be your biggest obstacle. Not only do they cost you some of your macros, but may increase appetite and lower inhibition leading to poor food choices. Like your food choices, to win the battle you must plan ahead by saving your macros and not drinking on an empty stomach.

To limit macro spending, be smart about your cocktail choices. Wine and light beer make good options. If you’re a liquor drinker, consider your favorite on the rocks, with soda or water. 

Tips to Help You Stay on Track

In addition to all the suggestions above, try the following to help you get through the holiday season without having to go up a clothing size:

  • Don’t skip meals, EVER. Especially with plates of cookies around every corner. You’ll be less likely to have the desire to grab one if your belly is full.

  • Drink lots and lots of water. Water not only fills you up, but staying adequately hydrated may limit fluid retention from the extra carbs and salt.

  • Brush your teeth or chew a stick of gum after you’ve eaten to prevent mindless picking.

  • At a party, stand far away from the food table and hold a glass of water or seltzer to keep at least one hand occupied to make it a little more difficult to grab from the appetizer trays.

  • If you’re having a hard time hitting the gym due to time constraints, find other ways to fit in activity. Develop a 30-minute at-home workout with burpees, squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups. Or, start a lunch walking group, take the stairs or walk an extra lap at the mall carrying all your bags.

  • Stress is a major issue during the holidays, which can lead to comfort eating. In addition to sticking with your exercise plan, don’t forget to schedule downtime for yourself. Meditate, journal, pray, read a book or whatever else tickles your fancy.