Shayna Schmidt | Dec. 7, 2018

It's officially December! Which means that from now until the New Year, your schedule will likely be filled with office parties, family obligations, traveling, and all sorts of fun festive activities. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

This time of year tends to be SO wonderful, in fact, that many of us see our waistlines expand quite a bit during these months. Even the most disciplined of #fitfolks can find it difficult to stick to their health and fitness routines with so much going on.

We’d love to help everyone feel great and anxiety-free this season, like they’re able to stand next to the bowl of mulled wine or the Yule log without feeling like they’re adding 10 inches to their waists! Here are some ideas.

Start Small & Be Realistic

Part of our problem as human beings is that we always try to tackle too much at once. We go into the holiday season resolving not to give into temptation at all, for example. But that’s not realistic! Christen Cupples Cooper, Ed.D., R.D.N., assistant professor and founding director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace University says, “We believe that small changes add up to big success—small changes at a time, which eventually become habits, make for lasting weight success.” If you give yourself an unrealistic or unattainable goal, the likelihood of you snapping and going too far in the other direction is quite high.

What about a small, simple goal instead?

“Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful,” is the holiday season advice from Livekick fitness trainer Beatrice Pattenden from Lincoln, UK. That sounds like a doable goal to us! “Research suggests that eating slowly gives your body a better chance to register satiety cues, enjoy food more and ultimately, lead to less mindless overeating,” she says.

Beatrice also notes the importance of not feeling deprived. “Don’t deny yourself anything that you really want,” she says, “but allow bigger portions of healthy food and smaller portions of unhealthy options.” The moment we feel we’re missing out on something, we reach for something to fill that void (usually in the form of cake!).

Make Smart Choices When You Can

We’re not at holiday parties for the entirety of December, are we?! There are many hours in each day that we can stick to our normal routines. We can even make the effort to be a bit healthier during the days when we know we have an event in the evening.

Alex Gardikiotis, Livekick trainer from Kent, UK says, “It’s impossible to stick to a perfectly healthy diet over the festive period, but if you can stay in the routine of at least having a healthy breakfast and/or snacks, it’ll make the transition a lot easier when January hits.”

Stick to breakfasts that are rich in protein, such as eggs, oatmeal, or Greek yogurt. Pack healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day so that you don’t arrive starving to your evening event.

Furthermore, you’ll typically know the dates of any holiday festivities that are coming up ahead of time. A good practice regardless of time of year is to sit down each Sunday and plan out the week ahead. Decide the days that you’re going to stick to your plan and the days that you’re going to indulge. Continue to incorporate nutritious meals and exercise into your usual workweek, when your schedule is more structured. Whenever there is structure, lean into that. This will give you a little more wiggle room for indulging or kicking back and relaxing a bit when you get to that Christmas Party.

Beware of Booze

If a glass of wine, craft beer, or cocktail is part of your evening ritual, consider going without it during the holiday season. Like soda, alcohol is a source of empty calories and over the course of a month or so, those nightcap calories really add up. If you actively want to avoid holiday weight gain, save your alcohol calories for the holiday parties. And when you’re at those holiday parties, remember: moderation.

Ventatia Zeelie, Livekick trainer from Bloemfontein South Africa notes, “Too much alcohol can be one of the most destructive decisions a person on a fitness journey can make, as it contains loads of calories and often causes the dreaded hangover that prevents you from getting to your workout the next morning.” It’s important to find a balance-- always, but particularly during this season-- between eating, drinking, and movement. Ventatia adds, “The holiday season isn’t a free pass to overeat and render you immobile for the rest of the year!

We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and hope these tips have helped you to feel you're able to enjoy the holiday parties without fear. If you're eager to get started on those New Year's resolutions, act now and sign up with your very own coach today!