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During the Holidays, Focus on Maintenance, Not Loss

Every year many people do one of two things: they either stick to their weight loss plan or abandon it altogether.

Those who stick to their plan don’t allow themselves to deviate from their diet and enjoy the occasional holiday treat. They may also stick to a rigid exercise plan, even though their daily schedule is now more packed or out of the usual routine. They stay concerned with losing weight and seeing change. If they don’t remain strict, they may get stressed or depressed. If they do remain strict, they also may get stressed or depressed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some may throw all caution out the window and abandon all healthy eating habits and physical activity. Every holiday indulgence is enjoyed and fitness goes by the wayside. They may feel ok about this now but come January they join the huge crowds of people all starting New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get heathy. Whatever weight was gained over the holidays now is added on to the amount you already wanted to get rid of.

My advice to you is to do neither of these. Rather, focus on MAINTAINING your weight and health. You won’t gain any weight or lose any of your progress when it comes to health, and when the holidays are over and it’s time to get serious again you won’t be starting from the beginning. You also won’t have resentment about those cookies you can’t have or over exhaust yourself from trying to still work out every day along with holiday shopping, baking and whatever else you are trying to fit in.

In regard to food – have some treats on occasion. You don’t need to eat everything, but instead allow yourself to enjoy those foods that you truly love and only get this time of year. Did your mom send you some home-baked cookies that were your favorite growing up? Have some! Just make sure to have a PORTION at a time and eat them slowly and mindfully so you really enjoy them. If something doesn’t really speak to you then maybe skip it, like that obligatory dessert that your family has to make every year, but no one really likes (fruitcake – I’m talking about you!) As far as the rest of your meals go, keep to your healthy eating plan. Just because you ate a few cookies doesn’t mean you may as well give up and re-start your healthy eating the following Monday (or January 2nd). You can also try to recreate some holiday treats in healthier ways. Try new recipes for low carb cookies or add extra veggies to your favorite holiday casserole. You get the idea.

For exercise, if your schedule permits you to continue to keep to your routine, and you want to, then by all means go right ahead. However, it’s perfectly fine to cut back a little if need be. But replace that exercise with some other kind of activity. For example, go ice skating, dance around the house to holiday music, park at the back of the lot when shopping and take the stairs at the mall instead of the escalator. Any time that you can squeeze activity into your day, do so. Try to maintain the same level of fitness you were at prior to the holiday season if possible, just in different ways.

The most important thing to remember is to not feel guilty or bad for eating those cookies and skipping the gym to go shopping. A negative mindset surrounding your health can actually contribute to weight gain and loss of vitality, as well as making it harder for you to recover come January. Have the treats, do the fun things, and know that you are maintaining your health, eating well most of the time, being active in fun ways, and that once the holidays are over, you can pick up where you left off.


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