The holiday season often means food, family, drinks, and starting the New Year off with the ‘I need to lose the holiday weight’ resolution. But what if you didn’t gain the holiday weight at all? Is it possible?

The answer: YES!

Let’s first introduce some hard hitting truths:

  1. You still need to exercise.
  2. You still need to hydrate.
  3. You still need to eat enough protein and vegetables.
  4. You can still have your holiday treats.

How is this all possible? The reality is that the best way to manage all of this isn’t sexy, it isn’t flashy, it isn’t quick fix – it’s simple habits that are good for everyday life to be completely honest. And those hard hitting truths we mentioned above are the exact things that will lead you to success this season.

#1 – Move. Every. Day.

This is the time of year where sweet treats run rampant. There’s no denying that the seasonal goodies are also usually higher in fat and carbs than most other foods, and the best tasting ones are usually not ‘calorie friendly.’ In order to keep up with the potential higher calorie intake, we need to think of the basic equation: calories in vs. calories out.

Simple concept, right? But this time of year also means shorter days, colder weather, and many opt to stay snuggled up inside where it’s warm vs. brave the potential weather you may face outside. The shorter days also make waking up earlier and staying up later a little bit harder. To be honest, this is a natural reaction and lines up well with our Circadian rhythm. Some extra awareness surrounding your movement is warranted, just to be sure you’re not eating more and moving less without even realizing.

If you find yourself more apt to sit down and snuggle this time of year, schedule in some time to exercise so it becomes a part of your routine. If you have a smart watch or health tracker this is a great time to use that step counter feature and set some goals. About 10,000 steps a day is good baseline for daily movement, and most devices can have set reminders to move during specific times of the day.

#3 – Hydrate

Consuming extra calories and foods we aren’t used to eating may mean our digestion can get thrown off. If that happens, our whole bodies have a tendency to slow down, including our metabolism. Hydrating properly will help your body’s systems stay regular. Not only that, drinking enough water will help you avoid water retention from extra carbohydrate-based treats.

How do you know how much to drink? A general rule of thumb is to take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces of water you should consume minimum per day. A 140lb female would consume a minimum of 70oz of water per day, for example.

#3 – “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!”

Protein. Is. Important.

Once again.

Protein. Is. IMPORTANT.

Protein helps us retain muscle mass, keeps us full during and after meals, and helps us recover from training sessions – no matter what type of physical activity you participate in. Aim for about 20-40g of protein per meal if you can, whether it’s in the form of yogurt, a shake, or a serving of meat, or a plant based option. Protein digests slower, which helps keep you full, and the more satisfied you are from a meal the less likely you are to go back for that second helping of apple pie after dinner.

Also, veggies…

Veggies. Are. Important.

Veggies are also referred to as these wonderful things called ‘micronutrients.’ These are all the vitamins and minerals our body needs to function and have healthy cells. Additionally, many vegetables have fiber, which aids in digestion. Consuming 3-5 servings of veggies (or fruits) per day can help give your body more vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, as well as keep you full for longer after a meal and aid in digestion.

#4 – Have your Holiday Treats

This is the fun one! Yes, PLEASE eat your holiday treats. The homemade caramels that only come around once a year, the big cookie exchange party with your and your friends, the small packages of seasonal chocolates gifted to you by friends and coworkers… have all of it.

Just not all at once.

This is the reality of most foods – if we don’t eat it all in one serving, we can still have it tomorrow. And generally speaking, this time of year is abundant with seasonal treats. As you acquire them or even bake them yourself, plan one full serving of something into your day. If you prefer variety, plan two smaller servings of two separate things per day. Allowing yourself to indulge will remove the stigma of restriction and help make the seasonal goodies last longer than one Hallmark Movie.

Don’t just allow yourself to have the treat, enjoy it – free of guilt. No extra hour of cardio the next morning, no restricting your meals the next day. Don’t perpetuate the stigma that you have to restrict yourself or buy into the idea that these foods are ‘bad’ or ‘naughty.’ They are simply calories and can be treated as you would any other food choice or meal. Allowing yourself the room to enjoy these free of guilt will help you focus more on the time spent with friends and family instead of stressing about ‘being bad’ with your food over the holidays.

All Year Long

As long as we are being honest here, the truth is these habits work all year long for maintaining your weight and progress through any period of time. But we know the holiday season can be extra challenging for our Flexible Dieting fam, and we want to make sure you are equipped with the knowledge and skills to not just look good, but FEEL good.

Head on over to @theflexibledieting on Insta to stay up to date on all of our tips and hacks to make it through the holiday season without packing on the pounds.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

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