Congratulations! Just by taking the time to read this, you’re in the population of people who want to maintain and build their health momentum through this 2022 Holiday season. While most will use the next 6 weeks of their life to take a “socially acceptable” excuse from their health, you’re searching for a way to improve upon it. My goal is to offer you a few simple and easy to implement strategies, that when prioritized will help you finish this year strong physically and mentally. When January 1 hits you’ll be in full stride ready to take on the New Year without the need to have a Health-related New Year’s resolution!

Before we get to the strategies, let’s talk about mindset. I am not going to ask you to be perfect or to say no to Family gatherings. This is an important time of year to see family and friends. Time together often means sharing in food and beverage and there is nothing wrong with that at all. In fact it’s healthy and needed. At this time of year there is often some down time from work. This too is needed. We require rest physically and mentally and it should be prioritized. However, our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance. Give us an inch, we’ll take a few more. All too often, a day or two of rest and enjoyment bleeds over into a few more. Then the next mindset phase kicks in: The All or Nothing Mindset. This is where things get damaging and I strongly encourage you to stay out of this mindset.

The All or Nothing Mindset is destructive. It’s what allows 5 days to control the other 34 from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s what destroys 10 months of progress in less than 2 months and leaves us at the beginning of the year feeling fatigued, weak, and not ourselves. At all costs, don’t let this mindset takeover. This leads us to strategy 1.

Strategy 1 is Holiday mindset. PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. You do not have to be perfect through this season. As mentioned, it is expected that we have family meals with all of the items we enjoyed as kids and still enjoy today. It is expected that we will have days of rest and relaxation. You don’t have to try to be perfect. Even with these days you can still make progress towards your health related goals. All you have to do is prioritize them at some point in your days amongst all of the other things that are going on. Leads us to number 2.

Strategy 2 is Planning. Planning to prioritize your health during the Holidays will increase your clarity as you navigate the season. Increased clarity will lead to decreased stress about how you’re going to get it done. A great Holiday plan will require a calendar. Pop in all of those family related non-negotiables, meals, travel days, etc. You’ll find that those days actually do not take up the entire calendar from November 24 to January 1. In fact you’ll see that there is plenty of space to prioritize your health through this period of time. Enjoy the rest days fully knowing that you’ve also prioritized your body and mind on other days!

Strategy 3 is Planning details. We need to plan in how we’ll combat the fact that we will be consuming a few more calories in the next month and a half. We’ll combat those calorie surplus days by prioritizing activeness and healthy meals. First, we’ll want to burn off some extra calories. This will come from getting your workouts set in your calendar. If you’re traveling, I recommend calling a local gym where you’ll be and prepaying in advance for scheduled workouts. The fact that there is a financial exchange will deepen your commitment and accountability to those workouts. Another strategy that can piggyback off of this one is to find an accountability partner, someone who will do this with you. When you feel weak they’ll motivate you and you’ll do the same for them. You’ll also want to plan in healthy places to eat whether you’re at home or on the road. Find recipes that take your leftovers and turn them into healthy options in the days that follow. If you write it all down, in detail, on your calendar you’re much more likely to follow through. Write it all in the calendar and then don’t let yourself down.

Strategy 4 is Holiday Meal preparation. If your families are similar to mine, we love to make way more food than is required for 1 meal and then eat it till we’re tired of it for 3 more days. This is fine however a health conscious person wants those follow up days to be in line with their goals. So….go ahead and prepare a surplus when it comes to the meat and veggies but when it comes to the other stuff that is high fat or high carbohydrate, or even worse both, only buy enough for everyone to have a reasonable portion at one meal only. This will save you time, money, space, and that feeling of “why did I do that?” Items I’m referring to are bread rolls, gravy, mashed potatoes (with lots of butter and cream), alcohol, and desserts. If we don’t over purchase at the grocery store, we won’t over prepare those items, and in turn we won’t over consume them. Planning again. When you make that grocery list, keep it reasonable on those items.

Strategy 5 is Ask Yourself, What will this do for me? This question alone forces us to confront every decision we make in times when it could be easy to go on autopilot. When we’re full and confronted with a dessert the answer might be: One bite will taste great and then the second not so much. I’ll feel obligated to finish it and then later I will feel tired and bloated. With this insight we can opt to pass on this opportunity or to cut ourselves just one bite. Everyone is different but it’s important that before action we ask ourselves, What will this do for me? It makes us aware of what the outcome may be and holds us accountable to ourselves.

Finally, Strategy 6 is Be a Leader. As someone who identifies as a health conscious person it may help others and yourself to be a Health Leader through this season. Someone else may be struggling, sick of feeling terrible at the beginning of every new year, and need some support. You might be the guide that helps them get through the next month. Set an example for them, hold their hand, and lead them. It won’t be easy. Easy is fitting in with everyone else’s excuses or expectations of you. Hard is doing what’s best for you and others even when it’s not easy. We need more leaders.

I hope these ideas provide you with a strategy to navigate your Holidays. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and what you’ve built has immense value. Too much to give back. Latch on to the idea of PROGRESS not PERFECTION. Enjoy your time while continuing to move forward.

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