Well guys, we’ve almost done it. We’ve almost made it through literally the WORST year I can honestly say I’ve ever had. But you know.. for as terrible as it’s been, there have been some really beautiful moments, too. But still. CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT’S BEEN A YEAR ALREADY?! A year that we’ve had to deal with a pandemic and all the other junk? And it’s almost been a full year since I had to say goodbye to my best friend and fur baby Gracie. Seriously. 2020 started out terrible and then continued to spiral from there.
(Also, side note, how cute is Coop in that picture?! That’s Thanksgiving circa 2017. We’ve always taken a family photo the three of us every Thanksgiving in that same spot at my in-law’s house for as long as I can remember, and this will be the first year we’re not. Thanks, stupid Covid).
But.. I try and always be positive and bring value to your life so sitting here complaining and wallowing is NOT the point of this post. Instead, the point is this: if you’re anything like me, the holidays are both amazing and disastrous in the sense that they cause me to REALLY lose sight of my goals and go flying off course. I LOVE the holidays. I love everything about the holidays, especially the full-fat peppermint mochas, snickerdoodle cookies, and endless nights of candy canes and hot chocolate while I binge the Hallmark channel watching predictable and corny Christmas love stories.
But since I’ve had so many holidays where I’ve “failed” – or thrown all caution to the wind and said “Ahh to heck with it – I’ll start again in the new year” – I feel equipped to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. I know the holidays are busy. I know they’re filled with delicious treats that are hard to resist. And I know that they can be BEYOND stressful. But all of those things wrapped up in a pretty Christmas bow doesn’t mean you can’t still be successful in your healthy lifestyle and transformation goals.
How to Stay Motivated During the Holidays
Drink Your Water
This should be something you strive to check off your list every single day, not just around the holidays. But here’s why water is key: when you eat foods that are higher in sodium, or higher in sugar, they’re going to find the water in our bodies and bind to the water. Or, the water is going to stick to the sugar/sodium. Whichever way helps you remember it more 😉 So when this happens, we experience water retention, or bloating. And we may see the scale go up a bit, because we’re holding onto more water, making our weight slightly heavier when we step on the dang scale.
When we drink more water, it actually helps flush OUT the water our body is holding onto. Sounds counterproductive, I know – but that’s the way it works. Staying hydrated is important for helping reduce water retention, keeping us feeling fuller longer (which means we’re less likely to reach for the snacks), and help us feel energized.. which Lord knows will be helpful as we battle holiday traffic.
The best part, is if you do end up indulging in something that’s not part of your weekly meal prep, drinking enough water will help flush out any potential inflammation, bloating, or retention that may occur. The goal is to drink between 64-128 ounces of water each and every day.
Schedule Your Workouts
This is something I do every single day, because I know if I don’t, I won’t exercise. It’s a fact, Jack. When you schedule your workouts, you are making them a priority. I’d even recommend scheduling them early in your day around the holidays, even if you’re not someone who typically works out the in the morning. This is especially helpful on the weekends. Because this way, no matter what may pop up during the day, you’ve already dedicated time to getting your workout in, which means no matter how crazy the day may become, or how busy you may be, you can’t push it off until it doesn’t happen. Plus, when you start out your day by making a healthier choice, you’re much more likely to continue making healthy choices as the day goes on.
(If you need some at-home workouts, here are some options for you!)
Bring Your Own Food
If you do get to participate in any holiday get togethers this year, there’s no rule that says you HAVE to eat what’s provided. There have been multiple holidays throughout the years where I have brought my own meal. Last Thanksgiving I brought a container of gluten-free, dairy-free versions of Thanksgiving and warmed them up and still ate with my family. I explained to my mother in law prior that this was my plan – and she knew that because of my Eosinophilic Esophagitis I couldn’t have the same foods as everyone else. She was totally on board, and even surprised me by having some foods prepared that I COULD eat.
For most Christmas get togethers, my family participates in a potluck of sorts. So I make sure the dish I bring is 100% compliant with what I can have; whether it’s because of my EOE or because I’m trying to eat healthier. There have even been times I’ve brought the whole dang meal because I knew my options would be limited.
My best advice if you’re doing this: talk to the person hosting the event beforehand. Make sure he/she knows you’re planning on doing this. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it’ll come as less of a shock if you do have some sort of conversation before hand. With everyone else? You choose what to tell them. But never feel ashamed and never allow anyone to criticize you for making healthier decisions for yourself.
Find The Balance
If you do decide to enjoy a treat or go, do so and then get back on plan with the next meal. I’m ALL about balance, and there’s no better time for treats than the holidays, in my opinion. If you know that you only get to eat your grandma’s famous homemade cheesecake once a year, then maybe it ranks high on the “worth it” meter. Enjoy every single freaking bite of that cheesecake, drink your water, and then get right back to how you’d normally eat with the next meal. Don’t let one cheat turn into an entire day of binge eating. And if you do decide to indulge in something special, do so, and savor it. No guilt allowed. No “extra” workouts to “earn” the food which really translates to punishment for eating something higher in calories. One cheat isn’t enough to make or break you. And definitely not enough to undo all the hard work you’ve put into your goals.
The holidays are special, and they’re meant to be enjoyed. But remember one thing: the promises you’ve made to yourself are even more special. (And no, Chad. I’m not telling people that they’re more special than Jesus’ birthday – you jerk. He really said that to me, can you believe it?! That’s NOT what I’m meaning here).
What I’m saying is this: don’t lose sight of yourself, or your goals, as you enter into this holiday season. Whatever you do, make sure you keep yourself a priority that stays high at the top of your list. It’s absolutely possible to stay on track and stay motivated during the holidays.
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If adding “meal prep” to your week helps, here are 10 of my favorite easy-to-make, macro-friendly, gluten-free/dairy-free, family-approved go-to’s 😉