The holidays are upon us. A time of celebration, tradition, parties, big meals, disrupted schedules, sweets and treats sharing at the office, sweets and treats sharing at church, sweets and treats sharing with friends and neighbors, sweets and treats sharing with people you barely know…

For some, these festivities wreck havoc on health, food and fitness goals.  Is that the case for you?
Do you regularly meet January exhausted and fluffy with plans to kick it in for the new year?

The diet and fitness industry loves this.  I don’t! I’ve lived this pattern of rejoining, restarting and recommitting  in January more times than I care to say. It is frustrating.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The past few years, adjustments to my attitude and actions allow me to not only maintain, but advance my food and fitness goals during the holidays.

Here are a few tips that help me.

1.  Adjust your mindset.
If your thoughts are along the lines of “What the heck!  It’s the holiday. I’ll turn it around in January”, If your goal is to simply hang on and not loose ground. Change that thinking!
Why settle for surviving the holiday? Set your sights to thrive through the holidays – and enjoy it.

Weight management begins in our minds. Many focus on the reports of 5-7, even 10 pound weight gains during the holiday. This is a myth.  The average weight gain during the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is 1-2 pounds – and his includes the hoards of folks who don’t care or even think about activity or what goes in their mouth.

Don’t focus on the worst case scenario. I did this for years and got what I expected. One year, I chose to think, plan and act higher.  I focused on honoring God with my body – specifically during this holiday season. We say this is a time of thanksgiving and celebrating the gift of Christ.  Good stewardship connects nicely with thanks and gratefulness.  Again, I got what I expected.

2.  Pray and mean what you say.
Do you pray or bless your food before you eat – each time you eat?
Do you mean what you say in that prayer?  Of like me, have you fallen into a pre-meal ritual without thought or meaning?

Before answering really think about it.  Consider the number of times we utter the standard grace, asking God to “bless this food we are about to receive to nourish our bodies…”  Then we proceed to feed on too much food we know has little-to-no nutrition.  Been there. Done that.  It’s not beneficial.

Imagine the difference if instead of asking God to bless the food we choose, we asked God to bless our food choices. This simple prayer has been so powerful for me.  It slows me down and keeps me mindful.

Take an honest moment of thanks before eating.  Listen and obey the Holy Spirit as He guides your food selections or tells you simply – “that’s enough”.  The Holy Spirit will not guide to gluttony.

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3.  Move
I get it. Our regular schedule is off during the holidays. Departure from the norm is part of what makes it a holiday right?  Off schedule doesn’t have to mean a fall off the wagon. The break of schedule allows me to step up my activity.

If the family sleeps in late, take advantage of this free morning time.  Sleep in as well if your body needs it. (Remember, sleep is integral for health and weight loss.)  If extra sleep is not needed, get up and hit some exercise before the holiday activities begin.  A few of my early am favorites:

  • A bike ride, walk or run.
  • A favorite stretching or weight training dvd or something new from You Tube.
  • When time is short, a Tabata or Stacked workout does the job every time.  These high intensity, interval workouts take just a few minutes to do with significant impact on your aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Later in the day, (after the eat-fest), take a walk with the family.  It extends conversation and sharing time, helps the food digest, and gets you away from the table for 3rds (cause we know we’ve already had 2nds…).  If walking is not your thing, before settling in to watch football, get out in the yard and throw the football around  a bit.  Sports not your thing either?  Turn on your favorite music and show em what you got.  What ever gets you going – get to it. Just move.

4. It’s a holiday, enjoy it.
Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.  Food is a gift, a wonderful gift meant for nourishment and enjoyment. The bible is full of examples where food is used for celebration and fellowship.  Enjoy this gift.  Just keep it as an enjoyment.

Truth be told, eating till you can’t move well, breath well and/or have to unbuckle your pants is not fun or enjoyable. Slow down, enjoy each bite and stop when satisfied, not stuffed.

5. It’s a holiday, enjoy it.
Notice the word is holiday.  It is not holiweek, holimonth or holiseason.

The holiday is a day.  Don’t let the celebratory food indulgences drag on and on and on.  You’ve tasted and enjoyed Aunt Mae’s sweet potato pie, Momma’s dressing and macaroni and cheese, Uncle Bud’s fried turkey, and Aunt Mary’s pralines.  No need to keep hitting them every day till they are gone. The taste will pretty much be the same. Get back to regular eating with no fret, regret or worries. Another holiday is coming in just a few weeks.

I hope you found these tips helpful. They are relatively easy to adopt and work well for me.
Give em a try for a happy, healthy and truly thankful holiday.

Take care, God bless and be well.

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