And Now, It’s Another Healthy Holiday Opportunity

16 12 2011

Liz Gilchrist

The most wonderful time of the year also has the tendency to be the hardest when it comes to staying on track. One of the recent blogs challenged participants to think about things that went well over Thanksgiving, and some things that didn’t go quite as well. This is a follow-up to that challenge, as well as more helpful tools to assist with achieving your goals of maintenance or loss over the holidays.

First, let’s be realistic. There are going to be special occasions and times where it is easy to slip and meander from your goals in regards to nutrition and exercise. Take a minute and think about some special occasions that could result in making less healthy choices that regularly come up, such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, graduations, baby and wedding showers, as well as celebrated report cards of kids or promotions at work. When you take some time to add it up, it can easily equal close to half of your year! Now, as Health Behavior Counselors, we promote realistic expectations, but 50% is not only setting the bar low, it’s not helpful. We don’t want participants to feel as though they have to be perfect, but to continue to reach personal goals in the program will require work, and about 80% is a realistic goal.

Now reflect back to the most recent holiday. Here are some themes that participants said really helped them successfully make it through and either maintain or lose weight. The number one practice that led to increased success was additional exercise. Many participants made it an activity they enjoyed, and at times, included other family members. Another tool that led to success was eating a light breakfast and continuing to log their nutritional intake. It doesn’t mean logging led to perfection, but it increased mindfulness, awareness and opportunity to grow and gain insight from their choices. A final common theme among participants was spending quality time with family, which included conveying their goals to those they care about to avoid potentially awkward situations and making it about the food.

In planning ahead (which will be key to success throughout the upcoming holiday season), it is recommended that you chose a few small tools that are reasonable and realistic.

Increase your water intake. Drinking water will not only curb your cravings and lessen the opportunity for over indulging, it will help with digestion and aid with the cleansing process all together. Also, consider taking your own healthy side dish or desert to holiday parties. This will ensure you are able to make at least one healthy choice, as well as role model healthy eating habits to others.

Also, if you find that your sweet tooth has been getting the best of you, set a realistic limit to the number of sweets you are comfortable eating, without feeling guilty or co-signing the demise of your nutritional intake for the rest of the day. If your mother made your favorite cookies or you’ve been baking with your grandchildren, it is okay to give into your desire of 1 or 2 cookies, but not 5 or 6. People will not be offended by your lack of indulgence, but may be motivated themselves and ultimately become an additional support throughout your time in the program.

Now when it comes to exercise, many of us believe there is no time to fit it in. Fortunately, there is accountability associated with the program, so even during the holidays participants are expected to get into the fitness centers at least 2 times per week. If you are unable to make it twice per week, try getting in three the following week and reminding yourself of the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and making exercise a non-negotiable part of your daily activities. In addition, it takes only 10 minute increments to make significant strides, so running the steps, putting up lights and cleaning for guests does make a difference.

Health Behavior Consultant, Meghan McGuire has spent some time compiling what we believe to be useful suggestions in regards to healthier eating throughout the upcoming holiday. Please click the Healthy Baking and Holiday Recipes link for more ideas that can take your holiday from ho-hum to healthy in a snap.

Healthy Baking and Holiday Recipes




One response

16 12 2011

Liz — thanks for the blog. Appreciate the things you said.

I’m just reminded that I’ve often said — I didn’t have time to do this or that. But at times it seems I “make” time for the unhealthier things — so this holiday season – I commit to finding time for the healthy things as well.

Safe, happy and healthy holidays to everyone.

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