You’ve been busting your butt for months to lose weight, tone up, and love the way you look in your clothes. Maybe you’ve even bought a new wardrobe that you can’t wait to rock at the upcoming office party.

The last thing you want to do is ruin all that progress over the holidays.

This article will show you exactly how to enjoy the season without feeling like you’re starting back at Square One in the new year.

Keep the Holidays in Perspective

Don’t let the holiday season gets you into trouble. It’s all about mentality. As soon as Halloween hits, you can fall into the trap of feeling like there’s nothing you can do but throw in the towel until we ring in the new year.

You might feel like you’re continuously thrown out of your routines and can’t possibly prioritize your diet and exercise with everything else going on.

This just isn’t the case.

The holidays themselves are a handful of days spread out across several weeks. In the grand scheme of things, this is pretty minimal.

Even factoring in travel and holiday parties with friends and family, there are still more event-free days in November and December than there are events.

Even if you went completely off the rails for each holiday meal here’s the big picture take-away: you won’t do that much damage. 

Here’s what really gets you in trouble: 

Going all out at Thanksgiving…..
Feeling terrible about it the next day…
Then eating that leftover pumpkin pie…
Then feeling badly about that…
Then starting the next day off with more pie.

Pretty soon, the whole thing snowballs, and then you have an actual problem.

Not every meal in November and December is worthy of indulgence. Treat those special occasions as the exception and not the rule.

Stick to normal healthy eating and exercising as much as you’re able.

Most of your meals should have a palm-sized serving of lean protein, a fist of veggies, a cupped handful of smart carbs, and a thumb of healthy fats. Yes, even if you’re traveling and eating at restaurants.

What To Do: Download The Holiday Workbook. Use the blank calendars provided to write in each holiday event as it pops up on your radar. Seeing this bird’s eye view of the whole season will help you realize that actual events are fewer and further between than it may feel.

Create an Event Ritual

Part of why parties and holiday meals can feel so nerve wracking is that they disrupt your routines.

You’ve likely spent months focusing on eating home cooked meals, being mindful of portions, and making sure to carve out time for the gym.

Now these events are popping up like weeds, threatening to disrupt your precious routines.

Create routine out of the un-routine.

Prioritize lean protein, lots of veggies, and plenty of water leading up to the party. This will help ensure you’re staying satiated during the day while giving yourself a buffer to indulge a bit at the event.

Make time the following morning to workout. This is not to compensate for what you ate and drank the night before. It’s simply to do something that’s good for you that will serve as an indicator that it’s back to business as usual.

This will help you ward off the temptation to begin the next day with more indulging. Instead, you’ll be more likely to make good choices and feel like you’re on track.

Grocery shopping and meal prepping are even more important this time of year so make sure to schedule time to get these done. Set yourself up for success so you have no excuses to be prepared for the event-less days of the week.

What to do:  Use the prompts in the Holiday Workbook to map out a course of action for the day-of and day-after a special event.

Make Mindful Indulgences

Not every food or drink you encounter over the holidays is special. 

Some are, absolutely. If you love stuffing and only have it at Thanksgiving, then by all means, enjoy the stuffing.

But if you’re just not really a pumpkin fan, you don’t need to eat the pumpkin pie just because ’tis the season.

There may be some social situations that you wouldn’t dream of attending sober. But others might be just as fun regardless of sobriety. Not all drinks are created equal.

Do you really want that third glass of egg not or would a lower-calorie vodka soda get the job done?

What to do: Using the Holiday Workbook, spend some time thinking about which foods and drinks you’re likely to encounter this season are or are not worth the indulgence. Before you eat your fourth variety of green bean casserole out of obligation, give this some thought. It can help you make better in-the-moment decisions about where you want to indulge and where it’s just not worth it.

Establish your Bare Ass Minimums (BAMs)

You may not be able to stick to your ideal routines every day of the holiday season and it would be unrealistic to tell yourself otherwise. But that doesn’t mean you should give up altogether. You can still do something.

Enter BAMs.

Ask yourself, “what is the bare minimum I can do each day and still feel like it was a success?”

Can you squeeze in 10-15 minutes to workout each morning? Can you make sure you get a veggie with every meal? Will 20 minutes of meditation be so worth it when you don’t lose it when your grandma asks why you never visit her in the home?

What to do: Using the space in the Holiday Workbook, figure out your personal BAMs to help you get through the holidays without succumbing to the all-or-nothing mentality.

Make Health(ier) Contributions

If you’re in charge of a dish (or an entire meal), you get to decide what you make and how you make it.

Offer to bring a salad, roasted veggies, or other side dish that you know you’ll feel comfortable eating.

You may not be willing to alter Grandma’s pecan pie recipe but see if you’re able to make healthy tweaks to less important dishes. Many recipes call for well more sugar, butter, oil, and cream than you really need. No one will be able to taste the difference if you use a little less of these ingredients. You’ll know you’ve done what you could to create an as-healthy-as-possible indulgence.

What to do: Using the space in the Holiday Workbook, write down a few recipe options and see if there are substitutions or alterations you could make to health-ify them a bit.

Remember the Basics

Special events are great opportunities to practice your basic nutrition skills of savoring you food by eating slowly, paying attention to your body’s fullness cues, and ensuring you’re getting adequate protein and veggies.

There will be no shortage of carb and fat options so fill your plate first with ample amounts of protein and veggies and then fill in the gaps with small servings of anything you’ve decided is a worthy indulgence.

What to do: Review the protein and veggie lists in the Holiday Workbook so you’ll know which foods to prioritize at holiday gatherings.

Remember What the Season Is All About

Don’t let concerns ruin what should be a really enjoyable time of year. Remember all these events and meals are supposed to be fun, carefree time with loved ones.

Download the Holiday Workbook. Use it to do the best you can to act in such a way that you’ll be proud of but don’t be too hard on yourself.