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And just like that, Halloween is next week! For me, Halloween is the true kick off for the holiday season. Once it rolls around, it seems like the holiday season really picks up momentum and Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the New Year always blow right past us in a flurry of sugar, booze, and carbs, Oh My! Before you know it, you’re waking up on January 1st (or 2nd, no judgment), trying to pick up the pieces of your long-forgotten health and fitness goals to start the New Year off right.

What if I told you there was a way to have your cake and eat it too? That it was possible to truly enjoy the holidays while also maintaining your weight? Let’s be real, the holiday season is not a great time to chase after new health and fitness goals. Typically, holiday weight gain begins in October and continues through December. Knowing this, if you manage to make it out of the holiday season without losing or gaining weight, you’re actually coming out ahead! What’s often worse than the holiday weight gain are the non-scale differences you feel in your energy, mood, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. Imagine a holiday season where you get to enjoy the holiday festivities, but maintain your healthy habits on the other days of the week so that you can continue to feel strong and healthy! Now that sounds like a way to have your cake and eat it too.

One easy way to avoid holiday weight gain and guilt is to make a plan for success. You should know by now that I’m big on making a plan, so you know I won’t leave you hanging this holiday season! Over the next 3 weeks, we’re going to go over some strategies that you can use to maintain your weight this holiday season and enter the New Year feeling your best!

This week, let’s dig into some immediate challenges coming our way over the next few weeks: Halloween candy and other treats at the office. If you didn’t check out my previous article about avoiding sweets and treats at the office, take a look for additional tips and tricks!

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Here are some Halloween and holiday-specific tips to help you plan BEFORE you’re faced with bowls of your favorite candy:

  • Write down your “worth it” holiday indulgences. If you’ve got a favorite treat that you look forward to every Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. write it down on a sheet of paper. Re-examine this list and re-consider each item one at a time. Ask yourself: “Will eating this bring me joy and all of the holiday feels that I’m imagining?” “If it gives me a stomach ache because it’s more sugar than I’m used to, will it be worth it?” If so, keep it on your list to enjoy guilt-free on the holiday. If you decide that it will only cause discomfort and guilt, then this food may not truly be worth it. If it’s not, then scratch it off your list and savor the foods that you have deemed worthy of gracing your taste buds with their presence.
  • Decide whether you’re a moderator or abstainer and plan accordingly. A moderator is someone who likes to keep all of their favorite foods in their diet, but in reasonable amounts. No foods are “off-limits”. For example, if a moderator craves chocolate, they will allow themselves to indulge in the amount of chocolate that it takes to satisfy the craving (this will generally only take a few small pieces). An abstainer feels that they need to completely abstain from certain food items to avoid overeating them. Generally the thought of giving up something forever makes a moderator feel like going crazy and overeating the item, while this type of control gives an abstainer relief in knowing they won’t have to deal with the stress of deciding whether or not to indulge in that particular food item. I’ve had clients who were likely moderators resolve to completely avoid their favorite sweets/treats during the holiday season only to binge on them mid-way through and feel like a failure. I’ve also had abstainer clients use this same “off-limits” technique with complete success because it worked for them and reduced their stress. The key is to think about which one you are and plan accordingly. Here’s how you can make a plan:
    • Moderator: Use tip #1 to list out the treats you know you’d like to have. This can help you avoid unnecessary calories on treats and sweets that you have not deemed “worth it”. When faced with your “worth it” food items, enjoy them, and move on.
    • Abstainer: If you feel like putting certain food “off-limits” to keep you from mindlessly overeating, do your best to keep your environment clear of temptation. You can’t always control what your co-workers bring in, but you have complete control over what’s in your personal office space and your home. Clearing your environment of temptation can help make this technique feel effortless.
  • Be reasonable with portion sizes. Eat your “worth it” foods slowly and truly savor them. If you hoover it down in five seconds you’ll likely want more, but if you take your time you might be surprised at how just a few bites give you the experience you were looking for. Sometimes it helps to ask “is this bite as good as the first one?” with each bite to decide when you’ve had enough to complete the experience. It also helps to serve yourself a portion that you’re willing to eat in its entirety in case you decide every bite is worth it.
  • Lastly, keep indulgences limited to holiDAYS, not holiWEEKS. You get what I’m saying. Enjoy yourself on the holiday, soak in the fun of the holiday season, and then wake up the next day and move on. Even if you overeat on a holiday, wake up the next day and treat it like any other day. Start with a healthy breakfast, some movement, and nourishing food and water the rest of the day. No need to punish yourself with crazy extra workouts or skipping meals because you overate the day before, just move on. I personally also feel better if I wake up on a holiday and have a good breakfast with protein and veggies before I enjoy my holiday faves with my family. It helps me feel like I’ve done my part to nourish my body before I indulge in my favorite holiday foods.

It’s your turn! Apply what you’ve learned today:

Give these tips some serious consideration this weekend as we barrel ahead toward Halloween. Take a few minutes this weekend to write out your “worth it” non-negotiables and bask in your holiday planning glory. Put this list somewhere visible so that you are well-equipped when faced with the cornucopia of food and sweets on Monday. If it’s not worth it, don’t eat it. If it is worth it, take your time to enjoy it and move on! Keep it that simple and enjoy your holiday season.

Stay tuned for next week’s tips on maintaining your workouts this holiday season!