Every year it seems as though the holiday season arrives earlier and earlier. I know I have been seeing Christmas decor in the stores for at least a month and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. For some of us, as the Holidays creep closer into October each year, so do the extra pounds we put on as a result. I want to encourage you that it does not have to be this way. There are ways to enjoy the holidays and still maintain your weight. It just takes some planning and dedication.
Holiday parties and family get togethers are usually the main source of temptation so the first thing I suggest you need to do is make sure that you are not giving in at the grocery store. There are so many temptations out on the shelves this time of year, it can be hard to make it through the store without grabbing those “just because” treats. But if you can eat clean at home, it will significantly minimize the damage over the Holidays. Fill your cart with healthy, minimally processed foods on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the baked goods section.
The next thing I suggest you need to do is “eat to cheat”. That is, plan for your cheats and eat according to how you plan to indulge. If I know I am going to make myself a plate at Thanksgiving plus dessert, you better believe I will keep my eating extra clean all week long. This can apply to any planned event where you know you will want to indulge.
Once you are in the moment and all the temptations are in front of you, stick to your favorites. If stuffing isn’t your favorite, but you think about green bean casserole all year long, skip the stuffing and go for what you love. Holiday events notoriously have way too many dessert offerings and people tend to eat things just because they are there. Go for your favorite and keep to that. If you love it all, grab small portions or “tastes” of each.
Lastly and probably most importantly, when you have an indulgent meal or even an indulgent day, get back into your clean eating as soon as you can. Don’t tell yourself “well, I blew it last night, so I might as well keep it going all week.” Remember that there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. So those 2-3 lbs you saw on the scale the next day are most likely water retention. It would take WORK to gain 2-3lbs of fat in a cheat meal. Don’t be hard on yourself. Weight gain happens over long periods of poor eating, not in a few Holiday meals. Enjoy your family time, your favorite parts of Thanksgiving Dinner and some holiday goodies. Just make smart choices.
Eating clean is always best, but I am being realistic with what I am saying. My goal is always to enjoy the Holidays with family and friends, but not ruin what I work hard for daily at the gym. I wish reality were different and we could eat however we want, but that mindset leaves us in a place of regret come January. I have been using these tips successfully over the past few years, so I hope that you adopt some good habits and enjoy a guilt-free and gain-free Holiday Season.
– Coach Rebekah Avants