How to Fight the Holiday “Cheat Season”

It’s officially here. The American holiday marathon has begun. The mega stores and discount stores are bursting with silver tinsel and rotating, light up snowmen. Every trace of the dreamy orange pumpkin spiced Halloween has been eviscerated. It is on.

If you are anything like me, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days are a fair game, a free for all. Holiday nom-noms on those days are 100% a-ok and included in a healthy and balance diet. You only live once and there are only 6 holidays a year. Just go for it.

On those days, I am all about stuffing, sugar cookies, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and covering it all in gravy. Oh, also pass those homemade biscuits please. It’s my American right.

It’s the other 52 days between October 31st and January 2nd that we have to watch out for. It’s the office parties, white-elephant parties, Meet Santa Pancake breakfasts, the Christmas church gatherings and the Friendsgiving’s that really do us in.

During this time of year, there is always an event or meal with friends and family that lays host to all of the fitness goal breaking delicious treats.

So how do we manage the Holiday Cheat Season? How to we control ourselves when Uncle Carmine insists we have more than one glass of his homemade egg nog (barf?) How do we say no when everyone else seems to be saying yes? How do we avoid gaining the Holiday 5-10?

I have a few tricks I am going to try to use to maintain all the hard work I have been doing through the rest of the year and kick off 2019 with no regrets (except skipping a 2nd helping of cake, I will always regret that, even if I know it’s the right thing to do.)

Meal Plan the rest of the week, and ClickList (or local equivalent) it!

I am a huge fan of meal planning, huge! It’s a weekly ritual for me. Sometimes I include my family, but they love the easy, heavy, not so healthy meals. So, mostly, I take the lead on this one. I just love prepping it all, planning it out, hunting down the best deal for my online grocery pick up. And isn’t that the best part?? I don’t even have to get out of my car….

Not only is it the most convenient thing EVER, but it keeps you from impulse buying a tasty and tempting treat. I can budget and plan for healthy meals for all of the days we don’t have a party, family dinner or cocktail hour.

My favorite part about meal planning, especially this time of year, is the convenience of not thinking about it all week. There is so much going on, so much we are responsible for, so much to get done; why not make your food consumption one less thing on the list.

Pick a day every week and stick to it. Plan out all your meals and snacks and stay committed to eating those things around your holiday schedule. Eating healthy 80% of the time will help combat that other 20% of the time you really live it up.

Never skip breakfast

I am not the best at this. I ping pong on whether eating breakfast or fasting is the right move for me. I have not figured out which works the best for my body yet, the data is still being complied.

That being said, I never skip eating something the morning before a holiday cheat meal. We all know we are going elbows deep in this cheat all day long, let’s cut the caloric corners where ever we can.

The times I have skipped breakfast was mainly so I could fit more in my gut for the big meal.

Here’s the reality, those are the meals I rarely remember. I am so famished by the time I am shoving turkey and gravy down my gullet, that I forget to savor the moment and really enjoy that indulgence.

If I am going to go all out and eat all the bad stuff, I am going to do it in moderation. When you are starving by 1pm, this is rarely an attainable goal. Generally, I will just have a piece of toast with butter, or a boiled egg.

This way you can consume a responsible amount of all of your favorites without having to release your top button in 15 minutes.

The goal is to give your body fuel and meet your turkey meal with love and respect, not the lustful gaze of a stray dog. Don’t do your mama’s turkey like that.

Eat smaller meals throughout the day before an event

This is a real struggle for me on the daily. I like to eat, big meals. My eyes are very hungry and my tummy very rarely tells them no.

I end up filling my plate to the brim, even with healthy foods, and eating it all in one sitting. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had just chilled out a little. I love eating a good meal, but I hate feeling overly full. It’s not a good feeling.

So, my plan for any holiday based events is to eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day leading up to the event, maybe snacking on an apple on the drive to the party/event/gathering.

This way I don’t show up starving, with no control over what is being served. Cause if I haven’t eaten since lunch and they have deep fried bacon, y’all I’m eating too many. I already know that about myself.

Maintain water consumption

This is something I am really good at during my work week, and fail miserably at when I am home. I think it’s because my water is staring at me while I sit at my desk reminding me that I have only had 48 ounces.

At home, I am moving around, chasing kids, snuggling with Bae and forgetting where I left that damn cup. I definitely eat more on the weekends than I do on the week days, and I have to assume my water intake has something to do with that.

I try to get in at least 70 ounces everyday. With cocktails, hot chocolate and cider around, this will be a challenge. But if it means I can enjoy a cookie, then I’m in!

Sometimes just drinking a glass of water before a big meal will help me to slow down while eating. I drink a lot of water while I eat. It’a a habit that formed when I had braces. I would rinse my mouth out with a swig of water after every bite, hoping that it would remove all the gross particles from my teeth before I smiled at the male population. It just stuck.

I also have a firm rule for myself and my girls. If you have already had a decent sized snack/meal and you still feel hungry, have a glass or two of water before you eat more. Maybe you were never hungry in the first place. A lot of times we mistake thirst for hunger and just keep eating.

Keep my alcohol consumption low and to the basics

I love vodka. I really do (not too much, I know my limits), but consuming too much is not only detrimental to my rap sheet and long-term kidney and liver health, it’s also adding unnecessary sugar and calories to an already heavy meal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna have a cocktail, I’m not that straight and narrow. I am just going to mix with seltzer water and club soda and my best friend, the lime.

I love having wine with a family dinner, but I’ll be conscious to only have one (or two), hopefully…..I will try really hard.

No fancy mixed drinks laced with soda or liqueur for me. I’d rather save that indulgence for dessert. There is dessert isn’t there??

Indulging in small amounts of my favorite holiday treats.

It’s Thanksgiving and Christmas time. There are going to be treats you can’t say no to. Every year the women in my family make homemade Chex Mix. It is not healthy at all. It is full of useless carbs, sodium and all tossed in bacon fat. But it’s tradition, and it’s good.

A handful here and there won’t unravel all of my hard work. Trying to completely abstain from one of my favorite things, then binge eating a whole bag while hiding under the stairs like this is normal, right?

If you love your Aunt Millie’s homemade sugar cookies, have a sugar cookie. Just don’t have 12.

If nobody makes cheesecakes like your sister, have a slice. It’s a holiday! Celebrate the fact that you have food to eat and family to share it with! Nobody wants to be miserable while watching their family eat apple pie a la mode as they curse the newly sculpted abs under their shirt.

Just go for it. One or two treats will not undo months or years of work. It took a long time to build it up, it takes more than one meal to destroy it. Only rule, keep it in moderation. One slice won’t ruin everything, but one slice everyday for  a week or 30 days, might have a negative effect.

Continue to work out diligently

I am finishing up a phase of training the week before Thanksgiving week. It’s an intense one, 6 sweat filled days a week. It has been a long and grueling few months with phenomenal results.  So, I will be changing it up the following week to shock my body and hopefully maintain the muscle tone and strength I have acquired.

What I will not be doing, is for-going a diligent weekly routine. It has taken me weeks and weeks to build up this habit, and I do not intend on letting that lapse because it’s the holidays. I plan on still getting it in 4-6 per week, whether that is in the form of HIIT, yoga, lifting or plan ole miserable cardio.

This is not a free for all. I still want to maintain what I have worked for. The best way to accomplish that is maintain my level of activity. No need to increase it so I can over indulge, that’s just opening a door full of gravy-laden carbohydrates I just don’t want to walk through.

If I over indulge, I will simply start over fresh the next day, reset my mind back to healthy eating and do my regular workout. I will not punish myself.

Not panic when my pants fit a smidge tighter than before the holidays

I think this one is the most important. The average person does tend to gain weight this time of year.

First off, it’s cold outside (if you unluckily ended up inhabiting a cold region). We aren’t going out and moving as much. We are spending more time “human-hibernating.” If you are anything like me, this means warm blankets, roaring fires and barely moving to avoid the cold draft that is your entire winter.

I try to remain still so the warmth I have accumulated underneath my blanket does not escape. And Lord help me if I left anything upstairs, cause I am NOT walking up the stairs into the frozen castle upstairs.

All this to say, we are generally burning less calories on the regular and eating more comfort food during winter. So, I generally prepare myself for the layer of fluff that may or may not settle all over my body.

Not to say I give up and just let it all go because I’m too cold, but I am less likely to go for a run with a friend, or park further away from the grocery to get more steps in. I’m just too fragile for frigid temperatures. Maybe it’s being born in the south, I don’t know.

If I am lucky, all the above mentioned things will deter the fluff from moving in, but if a little creeps in because I went a little overboard on the Chex Mix or cider; then I will forgive myself and start all over again.

I will not beat myself up or feel like a failure. I will continue to eat healthy, work out and practice positive thinking. I will put on a pair of stretchy pants and thank the Lord for spandex and elastic waists. Because like I said before, it takes a heck of a lot longer than a few meals/days/cocktails to destroy everything I have worked for.

It’s not fair to claim that I am only worth all the effort I put in as long as I don’t move backwards in my goals. I am not throwing in the towel because I’m retaining extra water after eating too much.

I am not giving up, because I have not failed. The giving up and walking away would be the failure, 5 extra pounds aint’ s**t!

I will not degrade my body by not lifting it up, even when it doesn’t look the way I think it should. It is still impressive and strong with a little extra fluff on it.

And anyway, that’s why all jeans have 2% spandex these days. Thank you, women’s fashion, for finally getting “woke.”

So there you have it, my plan, my strategic winter fluff attack. It won’t be so hard. If I can do it, so can anyone else. I plan to start my “end of the year” resolutions now, because waiting until 1.1.19 is simply not going to cut it.

The holidays are a magical time filled with love, togetherness, fellowship, kindness, giving and best of all FOOD! Food does not have to be your enemy. It does not have to own your happiness.

So, let’s enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed, as a gift and blessing. And bring on the “Cheat Season,” cause I got all the ammunition I need to stay on track.

Now, fetch me my bib, it’s time to eat!

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