Mindset tip for less stress during the holidays: give your habits a space in time to be present

5 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

mindset Dec 17, 2021

Tis the season to be present, enjoy some good food, and maintain your fitness progress. 

Sure, your overall goal may be to lose weight, but you can't always be in a calorie deficit and aiming for weight loss. (Check out this post to learn if you should be in a maintenance phase, and this post to help you with your reverse diet phase.)

Sometimes, like during the holiday season, the most significant sign of progress is seeing little to no weight gain. Maintaining weight during the holidays is a huge sign of mental growth. 

It's a sign that you have learned to be mindful, enjoy food, and no longer feel so restricted with your nutrition that you "have" to eat all the pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and whatever other foods you enjoy around this time of year.

In this blog post, we'll share the secret to how you can avoid holiday weight gain and avoid self-sabotage to make maintaining your weight as easy as possible.


Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

When you restrict yourself around holiday treats, you either feel like you're missing out or beat yourself up because you feel so guilty about enjoying a holiday meal. That's a lose-lose scenario that doesn't have to be a part of your life anymore.

Many of our clients find it's easier to maintain weight during the holiday season once they give themselves permission to enjoy the day and eat food.

Use the following tips to help you feel more in control to avoid weight gain while still eating delicious food.

1. Recognize Triggers That Make You Want to Overeat

Are there foods present that trigger certain feelings or emotions? Maybe it's the people you will be surrounded by.

How can you plan and prepare for these obstacles so that you are ready when they show up? 

Maybe you bring a healthy side dish like roasted vegetables or go into the meal knowing that you are going to have a piece of the pecan pie instead of saying you don't want it and feeling bad for eating one anyway.

By creating a strategy beforehand, you can create if-then scenarios that will allow you to use these environmental and social cues to initiate goal-directed behaviors. 

Remember, the goal isn't always to eat less. Sometimes (like during the holidays), the goal is to be present and enjoy food without guilt.

2. Eat Mindfully

This goes for any time of year, but especially during the holidays. Eat slowly and only eat at the table or with a plate. 

Don't hang out in the kitchen and grab handfuls of snacks. People tend to eat a lot more than they intend to or realize when they're walking around grazing on snacks throughout the day.

By eating mindfully, you'll get so much more enjoyment out of your food because if you're grazing all day without paying attention to what you're putting in your mouth, you'll eventually feel like you overate, but you won't remember what you ate. 

When you slow down, you appreciate all the delicious flavors and textures in your food. You'll also notice if there's something that you don't like as much as you thought you might. You can set that aside and focus on the foods you enjoy the most.

It's not just about your calorie intake at this point. It's about your enjoyment of the foods you're eating.

3. Prevent Weight Gain by Not Focusing on Food

I know I just said to pay attention to what you're eating, but I didn't mean you need to spend the whole day thinking about only food and taste-testing everything near you. Mindful eating is not the same as obsessing over food.

Of course, we are all there to enjoy some yummy treats, but what would it look like for you to spend more energy focusing on the time with family and friends, laughing, and making memories instead of what you are putting on your plate?

Take it all in!

Focus on connecting with your loved ones and getting the most out of this time with them, especially if you don't see some of these people often. You can make a turkey dinner any time of the year, but can everyone get together and relax at any time of the year?

4. Be Realistic About How You'll Eat

Give yourself a reality check. What are you willing to do over the holidays? What are your non-negotiables for holiday dinners?

Going in with intentions sets the stage for the entire day. Not to mention, it trains your brain!

Decide ahead of time if you want to go into your next holiday dinner with the intention of sticking mostly to turkey and vegetables or if you want to make sure you get a slice of your favorite pie.

Maybe this is the party where you'll enjoy some high-calorie beverages without guilt, and the next one is where you'll stick to sparkling water. Or maybe you will go for light dressing with your veggies and grab your grandma's cookies with extra chocolate chips.

There's no wrong answer because this is your journey, your life, and your body. Do what will make this holiday season most enjoyable for you!

You'll notice you're less likely to gain weight when you set realistic expectations for how you'll eat and create balance for yourself.

5. Exercise During the Holidays

Whether it's a morning walk in the sun or a quick little workout with friends and family, get in some movement! 

It doesn't need to be an intense workout. Move your body in a way that is enjoyable for you so you're doing something more than sitting on your butt all day. 

You'll be more energetic once the endorphins kick in, and there's zero chance you'll feel guilty for not being active.

Bonus points if you can get the family involved!

Maintain a Healthy Weight During the Holidays

It's hard for many people to understand why you might choose healthier options like fresh fruit and vegetables in the face of so many indulgences. Some people see your healthy habits as a form of punishment rather than you doing things that make you feel good. 

So then you'll be faced with comments like:

"Are you sure you don't want more wine?"⁣

"There's no way I could work out right now—this is my time to relax. Maybe you should try it sometime!"⁣

"You have so much turkey! Grab some more sides!"⁣

It's not fun to feel like you have to constantly defend yourself. Especially when you're defending the habits that make you feel the best, but people's nagging comments are no reason to start sabotaging your goals

Think of it this way: you'll end up feeling worse if you give into people's pressure to indulge more than you will feel for saying "no, thank you."

Your Mindset Around the Holidays

This situation can also be applied outside of holidays and big events to help with your overall health and weight management.⁣

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard, "You would order a salad, Kasey,"⁣ or I've been guilted for choosing a full night's sleep over staying out later and dealing with sleep deprivation.⁣

I still have to tell myself this:⁣

Most people don't prioritize their health and fitness, so I can't expect them to suddenly understand why I prioritize health and fitness.⁣

Movement and healthy eating make me feel my best, and these people do want me to feel my best, even if they don't understand what I'm doing.⁣

It's important to remember that you're doing this for yourself, not for anyone else. If your healthy habits make you happy, you should continue to do them regardless of the occasion. 

Some things you never need to justify:

  • Why you want to work out on a holiday, on your birthday, while on vacation, etc.
  • Why you prefer to go for a walk after dinner rather than lay on the couch.
  • Why you don't want another glass of wine.
  • Why turkey and green beans make up more of your plate than mashed potatoes and stuffing. 
  • Why you don't want a piece of every dessert available. 

Remind yourself of your priorities when people start making comments, and know you don't have to give in to the pressure just because it's a special occasion. 

Enjoy the Holidays Without Guilt

An important side note:⁣

I still indulge plenty during the holidays and am always excited about the drinks and treats!⁣

But even still, keeping things 80% healthy and nutrient-dense and prioritizing exercise makes me feel happiest, so I will keep it up no matter the time of year.⁣

And remember, a simple "no, thank you" is enough. 

The holidays can be challenging, which is why this can be the best time to start working with a fitness coach. Our team can help you navigate the holidays in a way that's minimally stressful and maximizes your enjoyment (including all your favorite holiday treats). 

Apply for coaching with the stellar coaches at KJO Coaching!

Click here to get a head start on making healthier choices this season through our free 5-day Self-Sabotage Workshop series. You'll receive short, daily trainings and exercises to finally learn the "why" behind your cravings, all-or-nothing thinking, and other psychological barriers that keep getting in the way of your health and fitness goals.

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Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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