How to NOT Gain Weight During the Holidays

Tis the season!

November is upon us and December is right around the corner –  this means quality time with friends and loved ones, cold nights wrapped up on the couch watching classic movies, awesome work and holiday parties, and an extra ten pounds of unwanted weight as a result of:

  • minimal exercise – it’s too cold!
  • maximum consumption of unhealthy delicious food and alcoholic beverages – why not!
  • hibernation due to the colder weather and shorter days – I can start January 1st!

Well, I say NOT THIS YEAR!

I’m not going to tell you to forgo drinking, skip anything the slightest bit unhealthy, or miss out on your parties; I still want you to have fun and do the things that make you happy with the people you love. I want you to do all of that, but without losing any momentum, flat out dominating these next two months.

Lets do the damn thing!

The problem with holidays

turkey cupcakes

I asked Nerd Fitness readers recently what their biggest struggle was with getting healthy.

OVERWHELMINGLY, I received two types of responses above all others:

  • “I know what I need to do, I just can’t get myself to do it.  I lack the motivation!”
  • “Once I get started, I fall apart after a week or two. I lack the dedication.”

Building new healthy habits is hard enough when the sun is shining and the weather is beautiful.  During this time of year however, you have to factor in crappy weather, shorter days, and a busy holiday schedule.  It’s very easy to get sidetracked and overwhelmed, saying things like:

  • “Meh, I’ll wait til January 1st.”
  • “Why bother starting now? Thanksgiving is next week!”
  • “Who cares! It’s a party!”

These types of thoughts are bad news bears. They allow you to rationalize bad behavior, “you know, because of the holidays.” Soon the problem with making bad decisions gets compounded like interest (banking joke ftw!): you get down on yourself, freak out about all of the weight you’ve gained, yell at yourself for being lazy, and then eat comfort food to make yourself temporarily feel better about the situation.

Last week, I had Rebels answer a quick survey.  Almost 60% of people admitted to gaining weight during last year’s holiday season:

Holiday Weight Gain Chart

This is what your fellow rebels are struggling with during the holiday season:

  • “Office ‘goody days’ are killers. Food is brought to the office and placed on tables right outside my cubicle. It is November 2nd and I’ve had to walk past piles of candy since Halloween. As soon as that’s gone it will be time for Thanksgiving feasting and then Christmas gorging.”
  • “One of the biggest issues I have during this time is when family comes to visit, there’s always tons of snacks just laying around the house. When things get boring, which they always do, there is a greater temptation to snack unhealthily.”
  • “Being home for the holidays and all of the associated outings and activities means a combination of two things: more eating out (very easy to eat too much with dessert every night, and less healthy options) and less consistent working out.”
  • “When staying with friends & family, it’s so hard to step away even for 20 minutes — since i only see those people a couple of times a year, there’s a lot of *guilt* associated with doing this selfish exercise thing.”
  • “Um…chocolate. And cookies. And candy. And pie. And ice cream. Anything and everything that has to do with sugar.”
  • “Familial pressure. I have a hell of a time saying no when everyone is all, ‘But! I made this just for you!’ Also, socializing in the extended family ALWAYS revolves around food.”

How to not suck at the Holidays

hannukah menorah

Here are some surefire ways to make sure you don’t suck at life during the next six weeks:

Half workout is a million times better than no workout – No more of this “meh, I only have 30 minutes, why bother?” Do you realize what you can accomplish in 30 minutes?  A quick Angry Birds Workout or Beginner Bodyweight Circuit or two can be completed in less than twenty minutes.  Guess how long the 20-Minute Hotel Workout takes?  Go on, guess.   Even if its push-ups  every other morning after your morning mile walk, it’s certainly better than nothing. WAY better.

And come on, it only took me four minutes to run around the world.

EVERY MEAL COUNTS!  Just because you ate a crappy breakfast this morning does NOT mean the day is ruined.  Just because you’re going to eat birthday cake this afternoon does NOT mean you get to say “**** it” and eat whatever the rest of the day.

  • If you’re going to eat ONE bad meal, that still gives you the opportunity to eat two really good meals.
  • If you are going to eat poorly, don’t also add in tons of liquid calories.
  • If you are going to eat a bad lunch and dinner, consider intermittent fasting the next day.

As soon as you eat ONE bad meal, the next meal becomes the most important meal of the week.  One bad meal does not make you gain weight. It’s when that one bad meal is followed up by a week of bad meals that things get ugly realllly quickly.  Eat a bad meal and move on!

Have a support team to keep you accountable – If you happen to be the only person in your family interested in being healthy, or the only one at a party that’s taking your own wellbeing into consideration, this is going to be a tough six weeks.  So don’t do it alone!  Have somebody that you can text or call each day, form an A-team, Justice League, Jedi council, or join the Nerd Fitness Community and check in daily with your supporters.   You’d be amazed what a simple text message each morning can do for you.  Yeah, you might get a few weird looks – embrace them.

Choose awesome – “Oh it’s the inevitable holiday weight gain” is the rationalizing attitude most people take as they funnel eggnog down their throats and eat enough mashed potatoes to make Mr. Potato Head put on his angry eyes.  Even worse, the, “It’s hopeless to try, I’m just going to deal with it in a few months,” is even worse!  Start by adjusting your expectations for the next six weeks.

There’s no reason you can’t kick ass instead, right? Yes, you can remain healthy AND have fun.  You don’t have to ride the Holiday weight gain train.  That train blows.

Choose to be awesome instead.

A Healthy Thanksgiving?

turkey legos

Can you eat a healthy Thanksgiving dinner that still tastes good? Absolutely!

Me personally? I’ll be eating a mostly healthy Thanksgiving Dinner but won’t turn down every unhealthy option (following my rules above). I certainly don’t blame you if you decide to take this day off too.  If you’re somebody that is interested in keeping Thanksgiving healthy without sacrificing deliciousness, here are some tips:

Are you a Paleo fan? Swap out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are a far healthier option for you than regular potatoes. If you’re craving mashed taters, make em sweet!  I’m a huge fan of sweet potato slices, drizzled in olive oil and baked in the oven for 12 minutes on each side at 375 degrees.

Eat turkey like its your job  – Meat is your friend on Thanksgiving, so eat it like there’s no tomorrow.  The more protein and healthy fats you have, the less room you’ll have for unhealthy sides like biscuits, stuffing, and so on.

Veggies should dominate that plate – Asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and whatever other veggies are on that table – go beastmode on those things! And no, corn is not a vegetable – it’s a grain; your body doesn’t process it very well (though you’ve probably noticed that).

Put some bacon on it – Nitrate-free, hormone-free, uncured bacon goes great on practically everything. Wrap your sweet potatoes in it.  Cover the top of the turkey with it.  Serve it as a side.  You can’t go wrong with bacon. And you’ll never hear anybody say “I wish we had less delicious bacon to consume.”

Hydrate, fool! No matter what you’re drinking at dinner, have a big glass of water as well.  Before you can get yourself another beer/glass of wine/motor oil, you have to finish your water. Deal? Deal.

Save the unhealthy stuff you want to try til the end – Unfortunately, things like rolls and stuffing are calorie dense but volume light, meaning you could eat ten rolls and not feel any less hungry. If you have a problem with overeating bad foods and stopping yourself after just one, save it til the end.  Stuff your face with the healthy stuff.  Seriously, I want you to literally stuff your face with the good stuff until there’s no room left in you.  Then towards the end of the meal, after you’ve finished your plate of healthy stuff, try some of the unhealthy stuff.

GET BACK ON TRACK THE NEXT DAY- Your body has no clue it’s Thanksgiving break, it’s just another day.  So the day after Thanksgiving, treat it like the rest of your healthy days.  Get up and go for your walk, make yourself a good breakfast, complete your workout and go about kicking ass at life. Deal? deal.

What about holiday parties?

Hopefully at this point in your life,  you’re in agreement that you don’t want to turn into Billy Bob in Bad Santa (language NSFW).

However, we all know holiday parties can get the best of us if we’re not careful…

Learn to love the 80/20 rule.  If you are going to attend your office and family parties and plan on eating and drinking whatever the hell you want, that means you need to be incredibly diligent in your normal days. No more, “okay just one” which leads to four or five.  Instead, aim for great week days – eat great breakfasts before work, bring your lunch in, and cook a great dinner.  Then, on weekends or holiday parties, eat what’s available.

Eliminate the term “cheat day” or “cheat meal” from your vocabulary.  “Cheat” implies that you’re doing something wrong or immoral and should thus feel ashamed afterward, which I don’t think is true.  Last weekend, I ate pizza, drank beer, and ate a dozen hot wings on a Sunday while watching football, and didn’t feel an ounce of guilt or shame about it – it wasn’t a “cheat day,” it’s just simply part my eating plan. Eating great 80% of the time and eating what I’m in the mood for during the other 20% allows me to feel good, look good, and have fun.

Now, after that “whatever” meal is done, I immediately go back to my normal healthy eating schedule – not because I was cheating or because I felt guilty, but because that’s just how I operate.  No momentum loss, because it’s business as usual!

Be smart.  Now, if you’re also interested in keeping things under control while at holiday parties, I’d start by reading “How to Eat Healthy At A Barbecue” and “A Healthy Nerd’s Guide to Drinking,” as a LOT of those principles will apply here.  However, here’s a brief rundown on how to get through the parties as well:

  • Bring something healthy – If you know you’re headed to a party with a bunch of unhealthy foods, BRING something healthy.  And healthy doesn’t = sucky.  You know people would be ALL over these bacon-wrapped sweet potato bites or bacon-wrapped jalapeno chicken bites.  Too much work? Steak tips!
  • Be okay with being the “weird healthy” one.  It’s okay to say no to cake, you know.  Nobody is force-choking you to eat it (see what I did there?).  Use the age old “sorry, I’m allergic” if you don’t want to hurt somebody’s feeling, or “I just ate, I’ll have some later!” If you’re trying to be strict with your decision making, you can be crafty in how you avoid eating really unhealthy foods.
  • Choose your alcoholic beverages carefully – It can be the difference between a handful of calories and a few hundred calories, which adds up significantly when multiplied by half a dozen cocktails (or a dozen? eep.) throughout the evening.  Alternate a glass of water and a drink.  Sure, the drinking is unhealthy, but more often than not it’s the 1,000+ calories you eat while drunk that lead to the weight gain.
  • Be awesome the next day don’t let one night ruin your six weeks. After all, eating at the party was all part of the plan, right? Check in with your support team.  Eat great. Be awesome.

Go forth and dominate!



 photo source: Santa and Darth, Drunk Santa, Turkey Cupcake, hannukah menorah, lego pilgrims, mario mushroom

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  • Keinan Miller

    Best way for me to dominated the holidays keep my workout time sacred. it is on the calendar. unmovable, unchangeable, my family will have to move dinner for my workout time.

  • M

    I’m planning on basically following the advice in the article. Enjoy a little eggnog, but not a lot, fill up on good stuff at the meals, etc. I’m down 55 lbs. since I started and I want to keep that moving.

    If this is first comment, I want the level up club membership for my brother, who needs a little more encouragement.

  • Barbara Wayman

    Great article Steve – so totally helpful and timely. The one specific thing I’m going to do to dominate during the holidays this year is take out my pen and write my workouts in my calendar and hold myself accountable to continuing my exercise program. This will allow me to continue the momentum I’ve built and keep me from getting off track.

  • German

    “What specific actions are you going to take to dominate this Holiday Season?”

    Already started, today is my first Whole30 day, so no room to cheat or anything!

  • melissa!

    The most specific action I’m taking this holiday season is that I put myself on a new lifting schedule in October, and I’m tracking it in a spreadsheet to keep myself committed to it through the end of the year. I’m also working on eating seriously, brutally clean for my weekday breakfasts and lunches and all my snacks, so that I can enjoy home-cooked dinners and holiday treats without any guilt the rest of the time.

  • goodwince

    Holidays I will be flying home so first I will definitely overeat on healthy veggies and turkey because it’s harder to fatten up a turkey (at least without a fryer). Hopefully I will be too full to have dessert. However, if I do it could only be a small portion.

    If I cannot completely avoid the dessert because it’s made “just for me”. I will take it to go and give it away to friends while taking a small portion for myself.

    Water will be a big part of my plan. As well as drinking harder lower caloric liquors to stave off liquid calories.

    Also, since I’ll be in surplus of calories no matter what I do during these days. I’m going to call local gyms and see about day passes and if they’re open on Christmas or the next day. (If not always bodyweight). Use the surplus to my advantage!

  • Erica

    My specific actions:
    1. Make sure my water bottle is never empty and always by my side.
    2. When visiting family, go for a walk with my mom every day. She likes walking, I like walking, and we barely see each other. Win.
    3. When I am tempted by something sweet (my major weakness), I will imagine the inevitable sugar crash and headache that cane sugar, agave, and sugar alcohols like sorbitol give me. In the moment of temptation, I can pretend that it doesn’t happen, but I need to confront how much sugar really affects me.

  • Louise

    I am planning to eat clean most of the time. I ran my first under 60min 10k this year and and running one at the end of this month and the day after Christmas and aim to get my time under 55 or ideally under 50mins. Keep the momentum going.

  • Jeff Kastner

    Great advice. It’s no surprise that motivation and dedication were the 2 biggest roadblocks. It seems most people understand the concept of healthy eating but indeed, it’s not always easy to do… and especially around the holidays. I’m trying to make the next 2 months better than they’ve been all year so I can actually start Jan 1 with a huge head-start, instead of my normal routine of spending the first 2 months taking off weight that I added the prior year.

    Also, I’d ditch the Olive Oil. Check out the new book entitled ‘The Great Cholesterol Myth’. It’s pretty eye opening for a lot of reasons!

  • Kaylynne

    I’ve been getting myself in the habit of tracking workouts and doing weigh-ins/taking measurements every week. I’ve realized how excited or depressed I feel when I either make or fail to achieve my goals for that week. I plan on approaching meals with that in mind, “If I eat this or drink that, how will I feel about the way it affects my goals this week?”

    My family is incredibly food-oriented (holidays or not) which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (food is awesome!), but I intend to start a new tradition – a family game of football or tag before or after the family meal! That way, we’re bonding in new ways and hopefully balancing out big meals.

    And I’m definitely gonna take the advice of doing my best to eat well during holiday dinners (turkey and veg FTW) and then eating super awesomely clean meals the rest of the time.

    The rebellion can’t take a break for the holidays! 😛

  • Joseph Blackmer

    I started walking a mile each morning, although, it was nice enough this morning that I’ll probably be running at least a few days this week. Faced with the difficult decision of getting in to work early (to save up flex time to use in place of vacation time) and walking this morning, I chose the walk.

    I’ve also started waking up without an alarm, which forces me to go to bed early and allows me to always get enough sleep. That means (almost) never being too tired to work out.

    I’ve setup one day a week where my friend and I go to the gym together. I’ve also gotten involved with the work soccer team and some other sporting events.

    I’ve cleared my office so that I can do push ups and whatnot throughout the day. I was going to order a pull up bar, but it looks like I’ll be moving back to the other building now, so that would be short-lived.

    Finally, I’ve made eating healthy on Thanks Giving a challenge (accepted!). I’ll get more pleasure out of beating the challenge than I will in eating those delicious loaded mashed potatoes from mom’s recipe that I know that I am going to be forced to make.

  • Patty Wells

    “What specific actions are you going to take to dominate this Holiday Season?”
    I am doing a fitness bootcamp five days a week and have been doing the early morning mile with NF. My plan is to continue the mile into the new year.

  • Elizabeth Cooper

    “What specific actions are you going to take to dominate this Holiday Season?” I’m doing my usual fitness bootcamp twice a week. I’m also adding in 3 at home workout sessions (which are usually so tough for me from a motivation standpoint). Additionally, I’m undergoing a 9-day cleanse in November in an attempt to kick-start my metabolism.

  • Widgetman

    Specific action for holiday season:
    Some years ago I challenged a rowing friend to a 2k rowing race on an ergo first thing Christmas morning – the girlfriends decided it was a draw (although I think I won). This was VERY motivational. This year my dog and I will accept the challenge to run our second ever 5k first thing Christmas morning, before the house gets up. I spent most of October in bed with a viral infection so this will require me to rebuild my fitness to where I was in September. I want to beat 35 minutes on the day. As I cook Christmas dinner for everyone (we are currently seating 10 including all the wrinklies) I might even bet dessert, which is traditionally a raspberry pavlova with our own eggs and raspberries.

  • Katie.Marie

    1. I will be telling my entire family that I am watching what I eat when I see them this weekend. This is to make sure they don’t make my favorite dessert “Just for me.” This helps with the guilt issue that Steve addressed above.

    2. I am in a competition where my friend and I are competing against 2 other friends. The competition is more motivation, the friend is for accountability and support. I have found that money isn’t much of an incentive for me to lose wait, but when it is a friend that I am letting down, I will work MUCH harder to succeed.

    3. I will be taking walks with family members. This has 2 benefits, it allows me 2 exercise and it will keep me from snacking during some down time during the day. In addition to this, I will get in a workout without losing that precise family time.

    4. I will definitely implement the first plate healthy food only idea that Steve throw out. I think this is a brilliant idea.

  • Joanna

    I’ve put a race date in february on my calendar so I have a training goal throughout the holiday season to aim for.

    I’m limiting my party meals to one per week, and I’ll eat a salad and drink a large glass of water before I leave to help full me up.

    I’m making one paleo dish for every event where I’m asked to bring food.

    Let’s rock this holiday season!

  • Monica

    Do you mind explaining why “ditch the Olive Oil”?

    From an article about The Great Cholesterol Myth “Sinatra also highly recommends eating unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocados, fish, and olive oil.”

  • Mindy Holahan

    I’ve been test-driving paleo recipes to replace all the usual offenders. FYI, the Mark’s Daily Apple paleo pumpkin pie recipe is really good and has a tiny amount of sugar, especially for a pie.

  • Robert Hoots

    My wife and I are already a few weeks into our plan to get fit over the holidays. She’ll be losing weight, and I’ll be gaining it (in the right way).

    1) We started the 4-Hour Body “Slow Carb Diet” and I jumped into Tim Ferris’ challenge and have already dropped 8lbs and 1.5% body fat!

    2)We’re starting our 90 day fitness program TODAY! We’re doing a modified P90X where we’ll be hitting the MWF strength programs hard but skipping the Tues/Thurs cardio stuff to just be active and have fun. We’ll still be doing Kenpo on Saturdays because it’s just too damn much fun. Even my kiddos like joining us for that one!

    3)We’re still totally going to gorge ourselves at family dinners, but they’ll be planned into our Slow Carb Diet as our weekly “Strategic Overfeeding” days.

    4)We came up with a fun Achievement system complete with clever/cheesy achievement names, fun rewards for good behavior and (possibly even more fun) “punishments” for the inevitable slip-up.

    We’ll wrap up our 90 day plan just before my wife’s birthday in February when she’ll be able to fit into her high school prom dress again and I’ll be sporting a six-pack for the first time in my entire life!

  • Becky

    My plan to dominate the Holiday’s is to always take healthy Paleo dishes to all gatherings. I will eat well. I will exercise. I will take what I have learned and make sure I am applying it day by day and minute by minute if need be!! I will continue with my journey!

  • Robert Hoots

    We will definitely be trying that this year!

  • Beckles

    I end up going to a lot of potlucks and parties. I’m going to do my part to balance out the massive amounts of bread, cheese, sweets, and fried goodness by always bringing some sort of vegetable dish.

    I’ll also keep up with going to the gym and I’ll alternate drinks with glasses of water to minimize how much alcohol I drink, and to keep me from geting too drunk to realize how much food I’m cramming into my mouth.

  • Wren

    1. Focus on body weight strength training, so that I do not have to worry about access to equipment while I am traveling . This is important since I will be away
    from home 4 of the next 6 weeks.
    2. Get together with my aunt and uncle who are doing the paleo diet so that we can figure out healthy options to bring to the family get-togethers. This gives me support in my quest to be healthy, while also offering my support to them in their journey, win-win.
    3. Only allow myself one dessert portion per meal. If there are two things I really want, get half a portion of each. Snacks should be healthy, that way my junk food calories are saved for the good stuff, like grandma’s homemade pecan pralines. 🙂

  • Katelin

    1. Don’t eat so dramatically bad on the weekends
    2. Try harder when it comes to doing cardio and weight training
    3.Eat healthier during the week
    4.Try harder at trying harder (yup get more motivated to be motivated)
    5.Being a rebel

  • irishdancer

    This year I’m going to take a much more active role in cooking during the holidays. Also, when I’m visiting family I’m going to get up and do my workouts first thing in the morning. Normally I work out best in the evening but my family doesn’t like me disappearing when everyone’s hanging out, so best to get it done early before the lovefest commences. Last – no meals made out of leftovers! Treat all leftovers (including dips, potatoes, etc) like dessert – to be eaten sparingly and only as part of a normal healthy meal.

  • Jackie Fitzgibbons

    1. Keep exercising. Had to move it indoors for the snow and ice and what not. But as soon as that snow piles up I will make an effort to get out and play in it every day. Sledding and hill sprints go hand in hand and with three kids, that is a lot of fun. Running with black ice, not so fun. But the cardio from a thirty minute sledding run is pretty good too.

    2. Only eat the treats I really love. I will eat good the rest of the time, but I will allow a few indulgences, my chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and homemade cranberry sauce. But I will not pig out on the semi tasty bad for you things, store bought cookies, pies and other things that just arent worth it.

    3. I will focus on eating really really clean on all the other days.

    4. Cook at home, plan ahead. I need to plan ahead family meals WAY WAY in advance so that I actually make them.

    5. Keep the finish line in mind. I want so badly to be at a healthy weight by new years, to finish my year long journey to healthiness. These last two months, I don’t want to slide back.

  • Sandra R.

    Those turkey cupcakes look really good. Oh, wait. Is that the wrong thing to say? J/K. Actually, the turkey on the left keeps staring at me. Bring it, turkey cupcake. It’s on.

    Thanks so much for this post! I totally needed to read this today. I’ve found myself on a bit of a downward slide the last few weeks, but today I managed to dig my feet in and bang out a quick workout when I got home. Tomorrow I hope to start that upward climb again and eat right (aka, no candy at work). What actually has spurred me on is the thought of all the hard work I’ve done this past year and a half, and was I really going to let it all be for nothing by falling back into old habits? No way! I’ve come way too far to give up now. I want “healthy and happy” to be my state of mind for the rest of my life.

    The hardest thing for me is resisting temptation when it’s right in front of me. Sure, I can refuse to buy all the bad stuff in my own home, but what do I do when I agree to watch my nephew for the day, and I’m surrounded by delicious ice cream, rainbow cookies, goldfish snacks, and munchies? I try and bring my own lunch, but often it’s not enough to stop me from snacking. I think what I might try to do is see if they mind if I keep some groceries in their fridge. They have almost the exact opposite diet from mine… They don’t even have any eggs! But I’m there often enough that it might be worth keeping some items so I can whip myself up a healthy snack. If I’m occupied with cooking, and full from my own meals, I won’t be as tempted to reach for the junk they have lying around.

  • David P.

    Hiking the holidays. I will be spending the holidays hiking the Smokey mountains (thanksgiving) and skiing / exploring Jackson Hole WY (Christmas). Keeps me away from the super huge dinners and active doing cool stuff. Maybe start a new trend!

  • Montier

    Thanks for these tips….I definitely will take these into consideration…I didnt even think of the cheat meal in that sense. Thanks a lot!

  • Aprilt

    “What specific actions are you going to take to dominate this Holiday Season?”

    My goal through the end of 2012 is simply to workout every single day. Make it a habit since I have such a hard time with motivation and stick-with-itness. No worries about pounds gained or lost. No concern with oops I ate a few bad meals. Just get off my butt and get moving.

  • Guest

    What am I going to do to dominate this holiday season?

    1. Run/walk/yoga/whatever – exercise helps me to fill up my willpower points & stick to my healthy habit formation.

    2. Meditate & plan my day – this also helps me with willpower.

    3. SLEEP! I make better decisions when rested.

    4. Be patient with myself and keep my eyes on the goal – if I mess up 1 meal, that doesn’t mean In should throw away the rest of the day/week/season.

    5. Load my plate with VEGGIES & have my bags of veggies with me everywhere.

  • Alicia Nickel-Lingenfelter

    What am I going to do to dominate this holiday season?

    1. Run/walk/yoga/whatever – exercise helps me to fill up my willpower points & stick to my healthy habit formation.

    2. Meditate & plan my day – this also helps me with willpower.

    3. SLEEP! I make better decisions when rested.

    4. Be patient with myself and keep my eyes on the goal – if I mess up 1 meal, that doesn’t mean In should throw away the rest of the day/week/season.

    5. Load my plate with VEGGIES & have my bags of veggies with me everywhere.

  • Zachary Fearn

    this post applies a whole lot less for me. I live in New Zealand, so, being in the Southern Hemisphere, the Christmas period lands itself in the middle of Summer 🙂 For that reason it becomes a more active period! Kind of helps to counter all the extra junk food.

  • Pingback: How to Not Gain Weight Over the Holiday -- great article by NerdFitness | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page()

  • solstice

    I bought a most fabulous holiday party dress that fits just right at my current weight, but will be tight if I gain…my incentive to get to Christmas and New Years!

  • Stephen P

    You know what I am going to do? Not only will I NOT gain weight, I will lose weight.
    I will continue to hit it 5 times a week doing my body weight workouts. I will eat things I don’t normally on Thanksgiving and Christmas but I WILL get right back at it.

  • Amanda S

    Thanks Steve! I’m stressed about handling the holidays this year. I was one of those people who was thinking the next two months are going to be a bust, why start now? But you’re right, issues will only compound, and there’s no point in giving up. Why not take on the challenge to lose weight this year? I can do it, so long as I remember that I CAN do it. Here’s two things I will be doing to beast the Holidays?

    1. Rock the “I just ate, I’m full, but I’ll have some later!” excuse. I always struggle when seeing other people going for seconds, or handing out something especially intended for me.

    2. Ask my Mom to support me over Thanksgiving break. This year, my Grandpa turned 75 and is taking the entire family on a weeklong cruise the week of thanksgiving. That being said, it’s a cruise ship. I’ve never been on one before, but it’s going to be full of ridiculously rich and decadent food, of that I’m sure. I don’t know if I can handle it alone, and I don’t know if my Mom can either! I think working together, we can keep our indulgence in check. Maybe we can set two or three specific meals during the week during which we can have some of the not-so-good stuff.

    3. Stick to a bodyweight workout three times a week. I usually get tripped up by over-complicating my workouts and changing them up every day which itself turns into a stressor. I’ve written up one routine, simple basic and to the point, and will instead be focusing on reps, time, speed for the next month before adding or changing ANY of the exercises.

  • TheWildernessChilde

    I’ve had a terrible time staying on the wagon and keeping motivated. I’ve resolved to do 2 things. No matter what else I do or don’t do, I will do these 2 things.

    1) HIIT, at least 3x a week. NO EXCUSES. It doesn’t matter how or where- at home, in the gym, at work. Just as long as I do it.

    2) Avoid wheat at all costs.

    Obviously I’ll try to do more- lifting weights, avoiding other non-Paleo foods, etc, but no matter what, I’ll at least do these 2 things.

  • FavouriteWaitress

    For the past three weeks, I have been journaling my workouts and everything I eat. I intend to continue this for the next nine weeks, culminating with the last week of the year. Each Sunday I plan and schedule my workouts for the week and take measurements of my progress. So far I have been walking six times a week, doing yoga three times a week, and doing a body weight circuit three times a week. Diet-wise I’ve been focusing on eating three healthy, substantial meals each day and lowering my intake of processed and high-G.I. foods.
    Every week I also set a special food goal, a fitness goal, and an additional goal. This week my goals are to walk a morning mile each morning, eat oatmeal for breakfast every day, and to get in bed by midnight each night. In the past I have had trouble maintaining my fitness routine and staying motivated, but journaling and setting goals has really kept me on track. I’m excited that I am doing a good job developing a routine and sticking to it this time, but I am afraid of failure! Please, I need your help!

  • Nate Anglin

    Great pointers! Motivation and dedication are the “Berlin Wall” to our fitness and nutrition goals. It’s what stops 99% of the people striving to take on this endeavor. At first it sounds easy, but we all know it’s not. It’s about building a habit and changing your mindset to an entire new way of living. If we all can focus on the greater purpose or have that one driving factor that is pushing us to take on this challenge…every wall is bound to fall.

  • Susan T

    Call me Chef Nerd Fitness! I’m going to be meal planner for the holidays! Healthy meals on Thanksgiving (that one is pretty easy, including making everyone a healthy breakfast that morning, and healthy pre-dinner snacks + I found some great desserts that won’t break the calorie bank), hosting a healthy cocktail party (lite beers with lime, skinny martinis, meat skewers and lettuce wraps), dinner party with an amazing seafood stew and of course Christmas meal(s) full of good-for-us stuff. Exercise isn’t my issue over the holidays (think SNOW), but eating healthy has always been the challenge! Not this year!

    PS: Just let me know if you want me to share some healthy menu options for the Nerd Fitness community.

  • Jake

    My specific action for the holidays?

    I’m on the whole30 right now, I’ll be transitioning more “allowed” food into that shortly. My plan is to keep my diet very clean, allow an “off plan” day for thanksgiving, a christmas function in seattle in december, and then christmas. I don’t see a good reason not to have a bit of fun with my food, but I also realize that limiting it and realizing my relationship with food is better than just going completely off the rails.

    My plan is to keep on being strong. If I can make it through weddings, birthdays, and halloween on the whole30, I don’t have any excuses for the holidays. I still plan on being honest with my food intake, and keep my support network up. The battle isn’t over just because we start hearing christmas carols on the radio!

  • Charlayna

    This is my plan too. I just want to create primal/paleo dishes that I know my family will like and that I can eat too!

    This weekend I was hoping to make a similar pie to the MDA one you mentioned, but with butternut squash instead! I’m excited!

    I keep putting recipes onto my pinterest primal recipes board for me to try out–some of which have been AMAZING (chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates, OMG SO GOOD!)!

  • Pingback: How to NOT Gain Weight During the Holidays | Nerd Fitness | Healthier Eating Tips()

  • Brawny Body

    Yo Steve!

    Great post man. I totally liked the Holiday Party portion, I have a hard time with that. But the holiday is sorta ok for bulking haha! At the same time I don’t want bad bulk weight.

    Gotta keep this article starred to check it out throughout the holiday season.

    Keep the good stuff coming man!
    Eric Silva

  • Robert C.

    Is “being awesome” specific enough? If so I’m going with that, if not I’m going with having a workout plan going in and sticking to it. I’ve already got the plans, I just need to do it.

  • Jamie Gibbs

    I know fora fact that the Christmas season at work is going to be hell when it comes to temptation. I’ll be sure to follow your advice and see how it goes 🙂


  • Tom

    It is too cold? We can train at home or fitness club & gym. We should eat healthy food. I know winter is the time when we prefere to do other things but sports is most important. Sport should be important.

  • konabreeze

    Woohoo!!! You are forcing me to lay out my goals…right here, right now! I love it..

    1. Specificly and formost, I will check in daily at NF and the kick-ass NF tv sites to get my daily motivation and support from one of the coolest communities I’ve encountered.

    2. Second, I will allow myself to enjoy the finer, sweeter things in life by morphing them into paleo-friendly foods. (Paleo pumpking pie, you will save me this season!) I’m the kind who likes my cake…all of it.

    3. With that said, I will enjoy reasonable portions of holiday foods. Just because it’s “healthier”, does not mean I have to eat it all. This one is going to be the most difficult for me. I over eat! I love to eat! It is a complete emotional experience for me and brings joy to my taste buds. I also eat too much throughout the day. You know what?

    bam…I just thought of another goal for myself

    4. Intermittent fasting. I know this works for ME (and it may not work for others!) because 4 years ago I was in the best shape of my life when I incorporated intermittent fasting into my routine (and I will not say because it’s because I was 19 at the time…age is no excuse for me!) This will help me to not overeat throughout the day!

    So, I realize I just contradicted my goals a bit with all the “reasonable portions” and fasting, but I’ll say this. If I have the willpower to fast, I have the willpower to not endulge myself by overeating. Yes, by fasting, I’ll be eating larger than normal portions of food when it comes time to eat, but I will have to remind myself to not go over board. Once I walk the plank, I sink.

    I’d include exercise, but exercise comes easy for me. I love it. I feel this is where I succeed in my journey to a life of healthy habits.

    Thanks for forcing myself to lay out my goals! Publicly!! Now I have to commit 😀

  • ana

    1. I will be preparing a few delectable items to take with me to each occasion (Family Thanksgiving, various work things, parties of friends, “Stress-Free Christmas” festivities, etcetera), and I WILL win over my vegan/SAD family* and SHOW them WHY I’d rather indulge in delicious paleo fare!

    2. Instead of being inside grazing on candies and biscuits all afternoon, I’ll be outside waving plastic swords in an epic battle with my cousins. And maybe doing handstands.

    3. Lifting heavy things and hiking as per usual, but taking advantage of various vacation days/holidays to do some epic hikes as well.

    4. Continuing to slyly try and convert my vegan mother to the lifestyle! I’ve already made some headway and she’s already starting to feel better!

    *weird combo, right?