Case Study + Pro Tips: How to Avoid Sliding Back During the Holidays

Case study + Pro tips: How to avoid the temptation to overeat during the holidays

The holidays are coming. One thing you can count on is dealing with a whole lot of unhealthy food, and plenty of social pressure to eat it. Yah!

Let's say you've been cruising along, making steady, modest progress, and BOOM! All of a sudden everybody you know is wearing Santa hats and offering you treats. 

What do you do? Especially if you love baking?

Here's an excerpt from an email with a client I'm working with. She loves baking, but recognizes that it might not be the best idea ever to have tons of cookies in the house for the next 3 weeks. 

She's made excellent progress over the past few months making small, gradual tweaks to her nutrition and doesn't want to regress.

"Going into the holidays, I am going to be really diligent during the week days, especially this week, as I have three xmas parties this coming weekend. For those my plan is to eat a meal before I go, so that I can just have a few treats and be done with it. I’m trying not to over think it or spend too much energy worrying about it, it’s not the end of the world, after all! For the baking I have made a plan as well, figured out what I need, bought ingredients for 4 batches of different cookies etc. I am making, and a plan for where they’re going. I’ll probably keep only about two of each for myself!"

What I love about this approach is:

  1. She's keeping perspective and not freaking out.
  2. She has a plan to stay consistent but is letting herself enjoy some treats too.
  3. She's doing her baking, but already knows how many cookies she'll make and already has a concrete plan to give most of them away to specific people. It's all basically accounted for already, so she won't have dozens of incredible cookies just sitting around the house.

And how did it work? Very well so far! She didn't lose any weight over the last couple weeks, but also didn't gain any. Plus, she's kept a very healthy, balanced approach to holiday food. Don't underestimate the power of staying sane and retaining common sense!

Here's a follow-up email from the other day (a couple weeks after the first one):

"This weekend I had to go to three (!) xmas parties, so although I DEFINITELY did not eat as healthy as I usually do, I don’t think I did too bad. I tried to be mindful, and also only ate indulgent foods that I really love. I got a good workout in on Saturday
morning, and I felt good all weekend, so I’m going to call it a win. If I over-did it, I know I would have felt sick at some point."



Here are a few more ideas for getting through your holidays.

1. Pick your spots and actually think about what you're doing. Don't go on auto-pilot. 
Enjoy the things that you really love, but also remembering that doesn't mean you have to transform into a real life dessert-annihilation machine. Have awareness about what you're doing, and don't eat "just because". At the same time, recognize that eating wicked-awesome treats is fun, and if you want to, just own that decision and don't have any guilt about it. Find the right balance.

2. Don't be dumb. Plan ahead. Have three Christmas parties back to back? Do you think taking extra care to ensure that your breakfast and lunches are extra healthy would be smart? If you suspect that the food will kind of suck at one of the parties, eat beforehand and just go to socialize. Figure out what your best options are, and be prepared. 

3. Minimize the nonsense and check your rationalizations. Eating a couple of your mom's world famous cookies is one thing, but going to town on all the goodies for the entire month of December is a bit much people. Reign it in. 

If you find yourself rationalizing poor decisions (I had to have that last slice of Pecan pie. Deb from accounting would have been crushed - as in life totally ruined - if I didn't have a helping and tell her how amazing it was.), stop yourself.  Own your decisions. Unless you're in prison, blaming outside factors for what you eat is a farce. You can find a way to justify anything, so you have to be your own bullshit detector.

4. Adjust your expectations. Maybe you lost 5lbs in Nov and 3lbs in the first two weeks of Dec. It would be nice to lose another couple, but then again, maybe it would be OK if you just didn't gain anything between Dec 15 to Jan. Or what if you gained one pound? Think about your best and worst case scenarios, and if you do plan on indulging, figure out what kind of balance you can strike in order to be satisfied with where you are at by the end of the holidays. Then stick to it.