The holidays are upon us which means lots and lots and LOTS of food! If you’re trying to lose weight, you can see how this can be a problem. Even the most disciplined person in the world, would have a hard time saying no to yummy treats all around them day in and day out. What if I told you you didn’t have to be miserable and feel deprived this holiday season. You don’t have to say no to everything. You can eat, enjoy the parties and walk away guilt free. Bonus, you can do all that with NO SETBACKS! One of the reasons I love flexible dieting so much, is because I can enjoy food and time with friends and family without feeling like I’m blowing my diet or that I am going to gain 10lbs. Moderation is key and yes you can have that piece (or two) of pie on Thanksgiving Day. The key is getting back on track and not saying “screw it! I’ve ruined my diet already. I might as well eat everything I see from now until January 2nd!”
I can’t even tell you how many times I have taken a break from counting macros for a meal, day or even a week with ZERO setbacks! I am serious about that. The way that I do this is all mental my friends. Once you allow yourself to enjoy food, whatever food you want, ONCE IN A WHILE (that is the key) you will be much happier and see MORE progress than if you told yourself you had to restrict, restrict, restrict all the time. OR even worse, have one cookie, figure you’ve blown your diet and eat 10 more. Yes, that will get you in trouble. We’ve all been there and done that. Or another scenario is figuring we’ve blown our diet because we ate something we shouldn’t or heaven forbid the scale went up a bit and then go punish yourself with hours of cardio. None of those things are healthy in any way. Allow yourself to enjoy special occasions, walk away guilt free and get back on track tomorrow. It really is that simple.
Here are some tips and tricks I use during the holidays or other special occasions in my life:
1. Define special occasions- The first step is to define what a special occasion is and what it is not. Special occasions should be chosen wisely and should be used sparingly. For me a special occasion is a holiday, birthday or vacation. I am not talking about groundhogs day and St. Patricks Day here….The holidays where I don’t usually track what I eat are: Easter (give me all the Easter candy!) 4th of July, my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve. I don’t usually track on vacations although I do eat mindfully.
And I have several days of the year where I have meal that I don’t track like my anniversary, Memorial Day and Labor Day (we have a tradition of going to breakfast on those days and I eat delicious french toast eggs, bacon and hash browns) My kids and husbands birthdays, Mothers day, and Valentines day. As well as the occasional cheat meal. If you’re not careful, you can find an excuse to have a “special occasion” around every corner. If you want to enjoy life but still see progress, unfortunately you can’t use every co-worker and cousin’s birthday as a excuse to not track. You need to pick a few meaningful days throughout the year and don’t track your macros on those days. Plain and simple.
With that being said, special occasions are not the time to diet. Enjoy those days and don’t worry about meeting your calorie goal or getting in enough protein. Eat until your comfortably full but don’t go all out crazy!
2. Get right back on track- The day after that special occasion or vacation, get right back on track. Don’t wait until the new year or next Monday. Do it now. If you tell yourself that you’re going to enjoy today and then tomorrow you’re back at it, it will be much easier to stick with it. Don’t let one day of not tracking turn into 2 or a week or a month. I have definitely had times, especially after vacation, where I come home and struggle to get back on track, but even if it takes a day or two to get back in the swing of things, I always do it.
3. Now more than ever, is the time to watch what you eat- If there were ever a time to be conscious about what you eat, it is during the holidays. With all of the good food around and so many parties to attend, it would be so easy to just tell yourself you’ll start after the new year. The good news is, with flexible dieting, you don’t have to cut out all of the goodies. You just have to work them into your macros. After Thanksgiving, we will have leftovers for days! Including pie, YUM! I plan to pre-log my food and eat a piece of pie every day until it’s gone. And I can totally do that without going over my macros!
4. Go to maintnence macros for a few months- Dieting is really hard on your body and it isn’t actually a good idea to diet all the time. When you diet, your metabolism slows down to compensate for the lower amounts of food you’re eating, making it harder and harder to lose weight the longer you diet. It is a great idea to give your body a break from dieting every now and again to help reset your metabolism so your body doesn’t think its constantly being starved. If I were to guess, I would say you’ve probably been dieting for a better part of this year or more. Technically you should take a diet break every 10-12 weeks. Why not use this time to put your calories up to maintenance and eat a little more without feeling worried or guilty? That’s exactly what I am doing this holiday season. And if you’re at true maintenance calories, you shouldn’t gain or lose any weight.
5. Don’t skip meals- Getting ready for a big party or holiday dinner? Don’t skip breakfast or lunch that day to try to hoard all of your calories. You’ll just end up eating a lot more than you planned and you’ll feel physically sick after. Skipping meals leads to overeating and you’ll end up eating more calories total than if you had a normal breakfast and lunch and then had your holiday meal.
6. Drink lots of water- I know you’ve heard me say this time and time again but WATER! Drink it! And drink a lot of it. It will keep you feeling full longer and will keep you from reaching for the all the food.
7. Limit liquid calories- Liquid calories can add up fast! Whenever possible, go with diet soda or water. Use the calories you do have on food! Food is more satisfying and fill you up more.
8. Get enough sleep- Lack of sleep makes you hungry. Period. Make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours a night and it will help you not feel so munchie.
9. Get in your workouts- It’s a busy time of year but make sure you make time to exercise. Stick to your normal workout routine and for the love, don’t punish yourself with exercise because you overate! That’s just going to create a negative mindset towards exercise for you.
10. Two bite rule- We all know at this time of year neighbors and friends are going to be dropping their yummy baked goods off at your house. In order to not feel deprived but to also stay on track, go with the two bite rule. Take two bites of whatever it is and be done. Don’t track it. Just move on. Sometimes those treats hard to track because you don’t know what’s in them, and if you only take two bites, you won’t feel like you overdid it or feel guilty. And honestly, the calories in those two bites won’t even matter in the grand scheme of things.
11. Enjoy your favorite foods, just count them in your macros- Like I mentioned above, you can still enjoy your favorite foods, it just takes a little big of planning and pre-logging. You don’t have to feel deprived. Just plan ahead and make sure you choose treats that are worth it to you.
12. Don’t stress- If you overate today, don’t stress about it. You would have to eat 3,500 calories ABOVE your maintnence calories to gain just one pound and you can’t do that kind of damage in a day. And if you do…oh well! Tomorrow is a new day! Just start fresh the next day and move on with life.
Remember that this time of year is about family, friends and memories. Food is inevitably part of life and memories, so go in with a game plan and you’ll be sure to succeed!
You’ve got this!