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Holiday stress: Stay fit and keep your sanity

It’s that time of year again: You’ve barely finished saying “trick or treat” when, in the blink of an eye, it’s December. You’re dashing from one holiday party to the next trying to avoid putting on the gift you didn’t want – those 10 extra pounds. Here’s how you can stay slim and keep your sanity during the joyful – but stressful – holiday season.

Chrsitmas party food

Obsessing can lead to unhealthy holiday habits


In my 27 years of training and coaching clients, I’ve found that the urge to control diet, exercise, family and unforeseen circumstances is the catalyst for eating and drinking more during the holiday season. By recognizing where these situations occur, it can help us prevent indulging in unhealthy patterns.

The extremes of gorge/starve are often where most people find themselves over the holidays. Some creative people do both (i.e., first I will starve, then I will gorge). Every year we eat too much and feel bad about ourselves. We think, “But it was all just lying there for me to eat. I can’t pass it up.” Or we starve ourselves in the face of all the abundant food and nourishment. What happened to having a balanced and sustainable relationship with food during the holidays? It’s worth practicing, but first you must know how to achieve it.

basic holiday diet tips

  • Take what you need.
  • Eat till you are full.
  • Get up and walk away.
  • Wait for dessert.
  • Have seconds if you feel like it, but ask yourself, “Is that enough? What hole am I really trying to fill with all this food?”

One of the best tips I can give you other than watching “calories in, calories out,” is to notice when your “buttons” get pushed when you’re with your family. Thanks to distance or other circumstances that prevent day-to-day time together, history is all that exists among family members for many people. The challenge is catching up our relationship in the short time we have together over the holidays. There are all sorts of conversations — the good, the bad and the ugly — that haven’t been had, and it’s noble to want to try to have them all in a few days. But it can be a set up for disappointment and stress. Laugh about your history or redirect the conversation. You cannot control other people, but you can manage your own thoughts, feelings and body. Do that!

Simplify your holidays to reduce your stress

We are now living in with a different frame of mind from a few years ago, and extravagant gift-giving and outlandish holiday parties are no longer the way we’re celebrating. People are spending less and finding out what is really important to them. If you’re wondering what to get people, remember that everyone loves love. Write a love letter from your heart to theirs — they will cherish it long after a piece of clothing goes out of style or an electronic item becomes outdated. Remember, no matter how big or small, the thought signals your love and that’s what counts.

Focus on making wise and heartfelt choices

To keep your sanity and fitness in balance, remember that the holidays are meant to be times of closeness, joy and celebration. If it isn’t that way for you now, then start designing and living into a holiday of your choosing. Be careful not to become an unwitting victim of your family dynamics or our culture and media messages. You have a choice about how you feel, where you go and what you do. Enjoy, and be present and open to what is possible for the holidays.

For more information on managing your stress and living a healthy lifestyle, visit

More sanity-saving, calorie-burning holiday tips

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