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One of the most popular topics that come up around the holidays is how to handle food and drinks with family and friends. All of us want to be able to partake in festivities that involve food and drink without having to feel guilty. More importantly, most of us don’t want to worry about what the scale is going to show the next day. As coaches, we want to teach our clients how to lose weight while still being able to act like a normal human being and enjoy the finer things in life! The key to doing this is finding balance, or more specifically, learning to balance tracking with, well, not tracking. With Thanksgiving coming up (in the U.S.), now is a good time to talk about how to manage this day, as well as holidays beyond that.

Sense and Sensibility.

With this in mind, how can you stay on track, not lose progress, and still be able to enjoy food over the holidays? The answer is quite simple: sensibility. What we mean by sensibility is eating reasonable portions until you’re comfortably full. Want some stuffing? Have some stuffing. Don’t have a plate full of it. Want some mashed potatoes and gravy? Have some mashed potatoes and gravy. Don’t have a mountain of it. Want a slice of pecan pie for dessert? Have a slice of pecan pie. Don’t have 5 slices.

Eat, drink and be merry… not miserable.

There’s a term we use in the fitness & nutrition world called homeostasis. It refers to the body’s ability to maintain its current state of health, fitness level, and appearance, among other things. The body is actually incredibly good at maintaining unless you give it a reason to do otherwise. If you stuff yourself with food to the point of misery, then you’re going to feel awful. It’s those moments of misery that lead to changes in the body. You’re eating past your needs, past your energy requirements. One or two days of eating this way are sometimes all it takes to tip the scales in the direction you don’t want to go. But eating sensibly, eating until you’re comfortable, eating within your needs, those are things that aren’t going to have a negative effect on you, at least not in any long-term way.

Keep it Simple.

At the end of the day, follow a few simple rules, and you’ll get through the holidays with no ill-effects:

  • Eat sensibly
  • Be reasonably active (maybe get a workout in that morning, or go for a walk, or just get moving in some reasonable capacity)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t stress

Life is meant to be lived.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed! It is 100% okay to put your fitness journey on hold to spend time with people you care about! Feeling guilty about food during the holidays neglects what they are really about. And let’s be honest, it’s a good mental break from dieting as well! You don’t have to obsess or restrict your calories! You will be okay. I promise.

Now, for those of you who feel so strongly that they don’t want to give up tracking and still want to have some degree of control over things, here’s what you can do: subtract calories from the day before the holiday or calories from several days leading up to the holiday. For example, you could eat 100 calories less than your target for 7 days leading up to the holiday, giving you an extra 700 calories of wiggle room to put your mind at ease.

Back on the wagon again!

After the holiday is over, you can hop right back on the macro wagon and pick up where you left off. If you follow the tips I outlined, you may not even gain any weight at all. Or if you do see a slight increase in weight, it’ll be so minimal that it will come right back off in no time. 

In reality, you’ve got nothing to lose by giving up tracking for a day. The only thing you’ll lose is enjoyed time with your family if you fret over the numbers of it all. Put that on hold for a day. Let me repeat myself one last time: it will be okay.

As always, join our Facebook group if you want to learn more or further discuss how to enjoy the holidays and not lose progress. Just send a join request:

Hope to see you there!