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Introducing: Health for the Holidays

I don’t like diets with expiration dates, let’s just be clear about that. I don’t care if it’s a 3-Day Cleanse, a “12-Week Beach Body Blitz!” or a 4-Hour Diet (how is that even possible?). The only expiration date that means anything as far as your diet is concerned is the day they put you in the ground.

And by “diet” of course I mean your eating regimen. Everybody has a diet. It’s either serving you well by supporting your healthy lifestyle or it isn’t.

No surprise, I don’t equate this 13-week “Health for the Holidays” series with a quickie diet plan. It isn’t. Instead it’s an intensely focused opportunity to look at our lifestyle choices during the most challenging 3 months of the year, October 1 – December 31.

“The Holidays” aren’t just Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Eve anymore. Costco has Christmas decorations up in August (seriously?!). And “The Holidays” have now encroached earlier and earlier to span the whole final quarter of the year. I know it seems ridiculous, but when you consider the escalation of all things “Fall” (no, I’m not going to pick on pumpkin spice lattes this time) we must acknowledge that “The Holidays” encompass all of October, November and December.

So my thinking is, why resign ourselves to the five to ten pound weight gain that most Americans experience during the holidays? Why mindlessly submit to the marketing hype and endless “special occasion” eating opportunities that cause us to lose sight of our healthy lifestyle goals? Why surrender our fitness routine to the added time pressures during these months?

If you spend another holiday season on autopilot, doing everything the way you’ve always done it, you’re gonna wake up on January 1st feeling depressed and kicking yourself, thinking “How did this happen again?”

So don’t let it happen again!

Instead I propose that we spend this 13-week period examining, challenging and changing the holiday status quo. You can’t expect any other outcome than what you’ve always had if you aren’t willing to look hard at your behaviors and change them!

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Despite what you may have always thought, there is no better time than when you’re really busy to focus in on what’s important to you. Added social commitments, entertaining, travel, holiday parties, shopping, special holiday foods, food-related traditions… the challenges seem endless and overwhelming, don’t they? I understand, I do.

What better time to consciously decide how to spend your time than now? What better time to make mindful food choices, get enough rest and stay on top of your workout schedule? You may not lose weight during the holidays, but you’ll feel so much better come January 1st if you prioritize your health rather than passively surrender to the tidal wave of holiday activities.

And I’m sure that you would never do this, but I constantly observe people using special occasions as an excuse to eat (and drink) things that they shouldn’t. At no other time of year is this more pervasive or pernicious than during the holidays.

I can already feel your apprehension. You’re thinking, “Wait, I don’t get to pile up my plate at Thanksgiving dinner?” “I don’t get to drink at the office holiday party?” “You can’t expect me not to eat Aunt Marge’s rum balls on Christmas Eve!”

Relax. You can still do all of the celebrating and some (not most) of the celebratory indulging.

There are only three things I’m asking of you right now:

  1. Commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 6 days a week. We’re gonna build from there, so no cheating. It doesn’t have to be running; pick something you like. Actually, pick 2-3 things. And start today, not tomorrow or next Tuesday. Today. Even if you’re reading this at 11:30pm, there’s still time!
  2. You know how most diets have you write down everything you eat? If you’re anything like me (slumps down in seat, raises hand) I’d only write down the good stuff because I didn’t want to think about the bad stuff. Or I ate it right out of the container and I had no idea how much I ate. Denial is a huge part of the problem. Instead, I want you to write down only the bad stuff that you eat and drink. All of it.
  3. Strive for this: every night when you lay your head down on your pillow, I want you to know that you did the very best that you could do that day. It’s a complete waste of time and energy to be disappointed in the choices you’ve made. Hold yourself to a higher standard and stop making those choices!

This is where the tagline comes in: Losing weight is hard. But it gets easier. And you’re so damn worth this!

Let’s go get our “Health for the Holidays!”

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