Avoiding the Holiday Weight Gain = Impossible??

The holiday whirlwind is here again and all I can think of is how much weight I gained last year!  I don’t want to do that again! But damn, that pumpkin pie looks really good….


Is that what’s going through your head right now as we hit Thanksgiving? Take a deep breath, relax your shoulders down and repeat after me “I choose to do things differently this year.” There. You made a decision that you will behave differently this year so that you get a better result. Results don’t just magically happen…they come about after certain behaviors are in place. So let’s get into the behavior changes that you need to make so you can keep this promise to yourself.


Behavior Change #1: Choose a moderate path and decide what that looks like.

Rather than swinging to the extreme side of “I won’t let sugar past these lips, I won’t socialize at all, and I’ll just be miserable for two solid months” or the other extreme of “I’ll just eat/drink whatever I want and starve/work it off in January with everybody else”, how about we decide on a more mature path of moderation.  Let’s choose to stick to our healthy nutrition plan the majority of the time, with planned “cheats” on a more frequent basis.  So a good way to go about this is to eat your normal healthy way, but choose 2-3 social events each week that you’d like to attend and not worry about food/drink. Pass up the cookies in the office and give away the 2 extra pies.  Do you really, REALLY want them?  Or are you just eating them because they are there?  I always ask myself, “Is this what I really want and crave?”  If it is, then have a portion, savor it, and chalk it up as one of your limited cheats for the week.

Most important point: decide in advance what 2-3 cheats you will have for that week. Don’t just wing it…that’s how you slide right into the old habit of eating every treat in sight. Been there, done that. ; ) Decide in advance & stick to the plan.

Behavior Change #2: Do 15 minutes of exercise every single day.

There’s just something mentally reinforcing about getting some kind of heart-pumping action once per day to lift your mood and keep you motivated on the nutrition front.  You don’t have to go to the gym, or even leave your house.  Think intense bursts of activity with short rest periods.  Pushups, squat jumps, jumping jacks, burpees, lunges, all variations of ab exercises, walking the dog with a few quick sprints thrown in, etc.  The possibilities are endless, so just pick a few and go full force for 15 minutes every day.  Not only do you benefit from the exercise itself, but you may think twice about that sugar cookie when you remember how hard those burpees were this morning. For ideas on exercise that require minimal equipment, get in my private Facebook group where I post body weight workouts frequently (bit.ly/KS80FB).

Behavior Change #3: Drink at least 100 oz of water per day.

There are multiple benefits of adopting this habit.  First, your body craves water as it does so many functions in your body.  Give it what it needs!  Secondly, if your mouth is busy drinking water, it’s not sampling the cheese tray.  Now, some of you may think 100 ounces per day is just plain ridiculous (who can drink that much?!), so just make a game out of it.  Keep a running tally of how many cups or bottles you fill up and drink.  Take that water bottle with you everywhere.  Added bonus?  Think of all the walking you’ll get in refilling your bottle and then running to the bathroom!

Behavior Change #4: Eat a healthy protein-rich breakfast every day.

I know you read this all the time: “start your day with a healthy breakfast”.  Well then why aren’t you doing it?!  This comes up constantly with new clients so I bet there are quite a few of you out there that need a kick in the pants too.  There’s a reason you read this advice on every health magazine and newspaper article.  Breaking that overnight fast with some healthy food boosts your blood sugar, tells your body it can get going, and prevents you from diving headfirst into the cookie tray come mid-morning.  Now that you are convinced you should eat something, please know that I am not telling you to eat a yogurt with fruit on the bottom, or a muffin, or a frappuccino or a bowl of Fruit Loops.  Those are all sugar bombs and will definitely NOT start you off on the right foot.  Instead, try a cup of plain greek yogurt with berries mixed in.  Or 3-4 egg whites  scrambled and a ½ cup of oatmeal.  Or a scoop of protein powder, peanut butter, almond milk and a banana blended.  Got a lot of time on your hands in the morning?  Then try a festive pumpkin pancake (blend together 4 eggwhites, 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, ½ scoop vanilla protein powder, ½ cup oatmeal, and pumpkin pie spice. Pour into pan, makes 2-3 small pancakes.  Top with sugar free syrup).  Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring if you don’t want it to be.  Just eat that protein!!

Behavior Change #5: Take time every day to de-stress and remember what this holiday season is really about.

Yes, I say it all the time: fat loss and health depends so much on your mindset.  View the holidays as torturous and they will be.  View it as an opportunity to connect with family and see the magic through your children’s eyes, and it will be magical for you too.  When you start to lose focus and get lost in the gift shopping, treat baking, gift wrapping craziness, physically pull yourself away to a quiet room, take some deep breaths and remind yourself what you are grateful for.  It’s impossible to be stressed out when you are thinking of all the great things in your life.  Remind yourself what the holiday season is all about: to be thankful, to give to your loved ones & community.  All the rest is just details. Remember that it’s okay to take 10 minutes a day to meditate, or some time in the evening for a quiet bath. Those small blocks of de-stress time are priceless to your health and fat loss goals.

Homework: (say what, homework?! Yeah, you read that right.)  Go grab a piece of paper.  Write down your 5 behavior changes…and be specific!  Don’t just write “I’ll drink more water”. Instead write “I will drink 100 oz of water per day.” Post this piece of paper where you will see it every day (bathroom mirror, fridge, car dash, desk at work, etc).

Got other tips for eating healthy during the holidays?  Email them to me! : )

About Kristy Stabler

Kristy Stabler is a wife, mom of 3 daughters, a national level figure competitor, a nutritionist, personal trainer, and health blogger for the Huffington Post. But underneath all those titles, she’s a woman who has dealt with her own body image issues, self-doubt and diet obsession. Seeing a lack of true substance to most of the fitness programs out there, Kristy changed her coaching to address the mental & emotional aspects of good health that every woman deals with on a daily basis, but tends to ignore in the pursuit of a size zero. Kristy has a Business Degree from California State University Sacramento and is ISSA certified in nutrition and personal training.