Happy Exhaustion’s Holiday Survival Guide

It is upon us. The season all dieters/fitness enthusiasts dread most: The Holidays.

Oh, God give me strength. No use pretending the holidays aren’t challenging.

On this day 2 years ago, I was not The Girl Who Lost 100 lbs. I was the girl who lost 96 lbs. My 100 lbs goal was so close I could taste it. There was no WAY I was letting Thanksgiving put any extra distance between me and my declaration of success with my very first Before & After picture.

That year I began developing Holiday Survival Strategies.

If you’re closing in on your own goal – or just don’t want some holiday event to send you completely off the rails – then this one’s for you.

All Eyes-On-On-The-Prize, Goal Chasing, I-WILL-Fit-Into-That-Dress-On-New-Years-Eve fitness friends quaking at the thought of a table loaded with trigger foods, never fear! Happy Exhaustion is here to help.

(Note: If your goal is further in the distance and a few lbs don’t matter much in the Here & Now, then dig in! By no means do I believe Healthy & Strong means NEVER INDULGING AGAIN. If a day of “sometimes foods” is just what the doctor ordered, then enjoy the pie! Just don’t forget to get back on track the next day…)

For my friends who need an assist – I feel your struggle. The struggle is real.

Ready to fight?

Here we go!

Ready to Holiday Like A Boss?

Ready to Holiday Like A Boss?

1: Start The Day With a Workout

Your gym will probably be closed, and you might not have any equipment at home. NO EXCUSES! Get that metabolism up & running before your brain has a chance to catch up.

Start the day with a sweat – feel thankful for a body capable of a working out!

Here is a freebie, courtesy of the trainer I’m married to:

In descending reps 15-1 (15 of each, then 14 of each, etc. until the last set is only 1 of each)

15-1: Squats

15-1: Mountain Climbers

15-1: Push-ups

15-1: High Knees

15-1: Abs of your choice.

(I’ll be doing oblique twists, but if you prefer sit-ups, go with it!)

2: Mentally Prepare For Your Trigger Foods.

We all have foods that light up the pleasure centers of our brains and make us act like junkies chasing a fix. For me, it’s sugar. One taste and I lose all control.

What’s yours? Sugar? Buttery carbs? Fried saltiness?

Psych yourself up to avoid your triggers. I mean COMPLETELY. Best way to avoid falling off a cliff? Don’t dance on the ledge.

I will not be having any pie tomorrow. It won’t be fun, but I’ll go to bed proud.

3: If You Didn’t Make It, You Don’t Know What’s In It.

This tip is for my fellow calorie-trackers. If you think you can guess-timate how many calories are in Aunt Mae’s famously delicious green bean casserole, round up! Chances are good that her casserole is so delicious because it’s prepared with a cubic ton of butter.

To survive this hurdle, be the one who brings the low-cal options. If you made it, you know *exactly* how many calories to track when you eat it. This is why I’ll be the one bringing steamed asparagus and a dark green salad. That way I know there will be foods that will satisfy me without hitting my tracking with a giant question mark.

4: Beware of Hidden Sugars

Holiday foods can sneak sugar into unexpected places. Keep an eye out for cranberries, pumpkin, squash, and other naturally high-sugar bites. For the holidays they’ll probably be roasted, boiled & reduced with extra sugar and butter just for good measure.

Can’t imagine Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? “That’s not even Thanksgiving!” Ok. Go ahead. But instead of slathering it all over everything, take a tablespoon-worth and enjoy the bites with a touch of sauce. Let them feel like indulgences.

5: Don’t Drink Your Calories.

Just a sampling of why this one’s important: The average cup of eggnog (ONE CUP!) has 225 calories. Mulled wine: 210. Cider: 175. Know what your body will love you for? Water.

(Don’t hate me.)

6: Eyes On the Prize

Whatever your fitness goal may be, keep it in the front of your brain. Think how far you’ve already come, how hard you’ve worked. Remember how much you want what your goal looks like. You’ve overcome difficult moments on this road. You know you can do it. You’ve done it before. Now do it again.

7: Is It Worth It?

Do a little math. How many minutes will you spend enjoying those calorie-bombs? Now, how many minutes do you imagine you’ll spend kicking yourself for unhealthy choices?

Know how many calories you burn running a mile? About 100. Is that single cup of eggnog really worth an extra 2.5 mile run?

8: Rise Above Peer Pressure

This one’s hard. Especially because it means I’m saying mean things about your loved ones. But the girl at the holiday table who isn’t cheating on her diet is rarely the most popular girl in the room. She might be doing what those around her wish they had the willpower to pull off. This can make her the target of saboteurs.

“Surely you’re going to take today off! It’s Thanksgiving!”

“Seriously, one day won’t make a difference.”

“You have GOT to taste this! I made it just because I know it’s your favorite!”

Diet Derailment: Dead Ahead! RED FLASHING LIGHTS!

No matter what the motivation of your loved ones, they’re not the ones who have to walk in your shoes. They don’t have to burn off your calories. Don’t let them drive your choices.

9: Say No to Left-Overs!

If you’re not hosting, politely decline to take any left-overs home with you (unless it’s those healthy, yummy steamed veggies you came with!). Leave with nothing more than an epic sense of pride.

If you’re hosting, encourage everyone who brought food to take home their own left-overs (as well as anything else less-than-wholesome that you can unload! Unless your guests are on paths like yours… give them props and let them leave with their pride alone.)

Deliver the rest to the nearest soup kitchen without delay.

10: It’s Just One Day

Even if you have to white-knuckle it through the perilous waters of the holiday, you’ve survived hard days before. Regular old Tuesdays when your co-worker had a giant bowl of pasta and eating your baked chicken made you full-on ‘hangry’. Stupid Fridays when your buddies were out pounding beers while you stayed in.

You killed it then, you’ll kill it now. Your pride at the end of the day is worth so much more than buttery gravy with a side of pie.

Enjoy the beautiful parts of the holidays. Enjoy your family, your friends, your health.

You don’t need to sabotage yourself to enjoy a special day.

Good luck! I’m with you!

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