By Claire Yanta-O’Mahoney, Veteran Spouse

Holiday parties, office parties, family parties, gifts, restaurants, and then the actual holidays themselves!  It’s that time of the year where food is everywhere, delicious, and not always the healthiest.

But, with a plan, you can enjoy this holiday season feeling empowered and not deprived.  Here are 8 tips to avoid packing on the pounds during the holidays:

Avoid Packing on the Pounds

1.     Commit To Your Workouts

It’s easy to let workouts slide during the holidays because things are busier, but your body will thank you physically (and also mentally, because we all know the holidays can be stressful!) by keeping up with your exercise.  It’s essential to get about 30 minutes a day, which can also include brisk walking! Find a workout buddy, hire a trainer to keep you on track, or sign up for a class to encourage the accountability.  Also remember that it’s not about “working off” meals, but instead about taking good care of yourself.  Your body deserves to feel good and move!

2.     Snack Beforehand

This might seem counter intuitive if you’re going to a party, an event, or a dinner, but you can’t always rely on there being nutritious options available!  However, YOU can be in control by stocking your pantry with healthy foods to nibble on before leaving.  By fueling your body with a little something before the party, you’ll show up feeling sated, comfortable, and ready to enjoy, instead of feeling famished and walking straight to the table that might be filled with options that aren’t so great for you. Another benefit to snacking beforehand is that you’ll be able to focus on engaging with others and if you drink alcohol, you’ll have something in your stomach to balance the beverage!

3.     Eat Mindfully

Our schedules tend to get much busier around the holidays, so sometimes we’re rushed to get a quick bite before running onto the next thing!  Even if you’re busy, take the time to sit down and eat without distraction (yes, you need to put your phone/tablet/computer/TV away and focus!).  Take the time to fully chew your food, think about how it tastes, and savor the experience.  You’ll find that it’s really pleasant and satisfying to be present while you eat.  You’ll likely also find that you’ll eat less!  This same logic applies to eating conscious indulgences like all those delicious treats.

4.     Indulge Consciously

One great part about the holidays is those delicious treats!  To allow yourself to enjoy them, remember that you’re in charge.  The food can’t talk and can’t compel you to eat!  Practice mindful eating like mentioned before, but also offer to share with someone (or a few people). Take just one bite, which is often enough, and balance it with other nutritious foods.  Also, don’t waste your time.  Avoid eating a cookie for the sake of just eating a cookie because it’s there. But if it’s your grandmother’s famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that are baked with love, give yourself permission to enjoy it without guilt.  You don’t do this every day!

5.     Go for the Healthy Stuff

When the healthy alternatives are there, take advantage of it!  There’s a good chance that a future holiday event won’t have many nutritious options, so fill up on the lean, green, and whole items when they’re presented to you.  That way you’ll feel balanced should you choose to indulge consciously when the occasion arises!

6.     Drink Your H2O

Water is important all the time, but especially when the goodies are everywhere!  Drinking ample water will help you feel full, flush out toxins, and balance any alcohol you choose to drink. 

7.     Be Strategic

When you know you’re going to a more decadent holiday dinner party and you plan to partake fully, plan ahead by eating better throughout the day.  The same goes for when you had an unplanned, consciously indulgent treat. Try to eat a little lighter the next day to balance it out.  Offer to bring a healthy dish so that you can count on at least one item being good for you!  The hosts will appreciate your generosity and your body will be happy too.

8.     Get Back on the Wagon

Sometimes there are just too many tempting treats. Other times, you couldn’t make that workout, or you overall just fell off the wagon a little bit.  The most important thing is to recognize it, push away any feelings of guilt, and get back on the wagon as soon as possible.  The longer you continue the pattern of overindulging, skipping the workouts, and generally not taking the greatest care of yourself, the harder it will be to transition back to your healthy lifestyle.  Get back at it because you can do this!

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PCSgrades AuthorClaire Yanta-O’Mahoney started Fleur de Lis Fitness as a way to help clients seize the day and transform themselves into the healthier person they deserve to be. She offers fitness and healthy nutrition coaching to clients across the globe LIVE online. Claire tailors her programs to clients’ individual goals and needs so that it fits their lifestyle. Claire is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor. Sher earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Masters of Science in Developmental Psychology from Tulane University. Claire loves spending time with her husband, family, friends, traveling, reading, and cooking (or “health-ifying” recipes).