In the previous article, I discussed the holiday struggle. The challenge on how to enjoy the holidays and all the food experiences that come with them but resisting the temptation to overindulge. This may seem unachievable to those who want to fully enjoy and be present without feeling “yuck” over the holidays, but it is possible. It is possible when you have an incredible plan.
This article is all about how to enjoy holiday treats but not overindulge, so your holidays can be both happy and healthy.
The foundation of this plan for success is based on the three non-negotiables for creating sustainable healthy habits. However, the focus of the six weeks over the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years) isn’t necessarily about creating sustainability. The focus is more about:
- creating sanity during the craziness of the holidays
- not gaining weight
- controlling your eating rather than allowing your eating to control you, and
- having no regrets while you enjoy a slice of grandma’s favorite cake.
And as I stated in last week’s article, this isn’t about restriction. It is about balance. And we are going to use these three non-negotiables as the system to create what we desire.
I won’t break down what each of the non-negotiables means. If you want to read more, you can see my post on the Non-Negotiables for Reaching (Im)possible Goals.
#1 The Right Mindset:
You have to prepare your mind and thoughts to take on the challenges and “buts” mentioned last week so you can have a successful and healthy holiday.
There are two parts to having the right mindset:
- Reword the language you use to speak to yourself and others. This can help you mentally shift from a victim of the holidays to a holiday victor.
- Know your true why. Understanding your clear intent, your deep reason for doing this will sustain your drive and commitment to this plan.
Here are some suggestions for rewording your language:
- I am not a victim of holiday overindulging. I am victorious in being healthy for the holidays.
- I can have balance and enjoy but not binge.
- I don’t have to say “yes” to all the treats. It is okay to say “no.” My health is more important than whether someone’s feelings get hurt because I don’t want to eat what they want me to eat.
- It is okay to want different things from my friends and family.
- Healthy food can bring family and friends together.
- Binging through the holidays, overloading on food and drinks, isn’t worth it. To feel my best and be the most present, I need to keep healthy.
- It is okay for me to take time to do some exercise while visiting or hosting family.
- Holiday treats are okay to have, I am just picky about them.
- My body and mind deserve the best.
Here are possible whys:
- I am tired of feeling bloated over the holidays.
- I don’t want to gain any weight.
- I don’t want my New Years outfit to look or feel too tight.
- I want to end the cycle of not controlling my food through the holidays because it has made me feel yucky in the past. I don’t want these treats and drinks to control me.
- I want to be a good example for my family. I want to sleep better, even with all the activity going on.
My holiday mindset:
I am choosing to enjoy but not overindulge through the holidays so I can be my best physically and mentally during this time and not regret poor choices. Sweets and breads are not my boss. I do not have that “ugh,” “gross,” and “yuck” feeling. I want to be in a better mood more consistently and like how my body looks going into the New Year. I want to be a good example for my daughter and those around me.
#2 The Right Plan:
It isn’t that you don’t know how to be healthier, it’s just that you haven’t used the right system to be successful. Part of the Right Plan is actually writing it down. So get out a pen and paper and start planning. Or better yet, sign up for the FREE 6 Week Holiday Challenge group below.
The three main steps to creating the right plan:
- Focus on habits rather than goals. Pick 1-2 big habit(s) to focus on.
- Identify challenges and look for ways to overcome.
- Create a plan and make a note of what you need to do to prep.
As we delve into each step I will give examples of how the steps might look for you, plus share what it looks like for me.
1 – Habits to consider: (*These MUST have specific amounts, days, and/or times!)
- Dessert limited to X times per week.
- No sugar and refined grains expect X times per week.
- Alcohol limit X glasses per week.
- Club soda in place of alcoholic drinks.
- Take something/make something healthy to all gatherings.
- Only one plate, rather than 2 or more, for any gathering.
- Half the plate or more of veggies for all gatherings.
- Don’t buy extra treats or keep them at home.
My 1 habit: Over the next 6 weeks (Nov 22 until Jan 2), no sugar or refined grains except for a maximum of 3 times per week at planned occasions/meals. I will make them of good quality and worth the taste.
2 – Challenges are:
- I love sweets, breads, and/or wine.
- So many parties and gatherings with food.
- I don’t want to hurt grandma’s feelings.
- Never ending treats given to me.
- It is colder and I want to eat more.
- I am traveling during this time.
My challenges: Sweets and refined bread products tend to be my weakness and I can easily give into them at gatherings since I don’t have them that often. I frequently like to snack on a few tortilla chips in the afternoon and crave something sweet after dinner. Being at home so much, I have an increased desire to make and keep extra treats around the house.
3 – Plan & prep suggestions: (*These MUST be specific. Success also lies in creating an environment to help you.)
- Take something/make something healthy, veggie focused, to all gatherings.
- Make any treats I have not only planned but also good quality and good tasting.
- If offered something that doesn’t align with my habits, politely say, “Thank you, but no thanks.”
- I will pre-plan my travel meals as best I can.
- I will take healthy snacks with me as I travel.
- If I am staying at a hotel, I will ask for mini-fridge.
- If I am staying with family or friends, I will ask if it is okay to use their fridge for my healthy food.
- I will substitute this healthy food/drink for this unhealthy food/drink I would have normally had in the past.
- Before eating out, I will look at the menu and plan the healthy meal I am having. One plate maximum at all gatherings.
My plan & prep: Eat only real food for all meals except the ones planned on the calendar over the next 6 weeks. No refined grains. Drink only water, club soda, or hot tea. On planned days, may enjoy 1-2 treats. I will commit to a predetermined treat intake before the event. Substitute nuts, veggies, or fruit for tortilla chips. If craving something sweet after dinner, I will have fruit. Enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. Those are definitely planned treat days.
#3 The Right Accountability
Setting up an accountability method seals the deal.
The minimal accountability commitment is using a calendar or planner to mark potential challenging events and days, days you plan to do your habits, and your successes.
The next step is to share what you are doing by getting an accountability partner, noting your journey on social media, and/or signing up to be a part of the FREE 7Core Wellness Holiday Challenge group. More details below!
My accountability: The Holiday Challenge Calendar and the 7Core Wellness Facebook Group.
In the end, you deserve to have a healthy, happy holiday time. It can be such a struggle, so don’t do it alone. Get a family member or friend to join you. Taking care of your health and wellness may be the best gift to yourself this season.
To a happy, healthy holiday time!
Jen is a certified nutrition coach and master personal trainer with a specialty in corrective exercise. She owns 7Core Wellness, where she strives to empower individuals to live better, move better, and become their strongest self.
Jen created the Warrior Approach and the Warrior Approach Guidebook, which introduces a simple system to plan and prep your way to a healthier life by creating sustainable, healthy habits. As a former Special Operations spouse and registered nurse, Jen understands the demands placed on the family and the challenges they pose to well-being. She is passionate about helping families find balance through self-care in an achievable and sustainable way by simplifying how to eat right and move more.