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A 9-step guideline to survive the festive season without too much harm to your fitness goal

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The festive season is here and that usually involves family gatherings, food, presents, warmth, coziness, and joy. Besides the many parties and happy times with friends and family, there is also the downsides of this time of the year: the stress and panic to get all the gifts in time, deciding on who does what for the Christmas party, the hours spent in the kitchen trying to cook a fabulous 5-course dinner, …

Not to forget the guilt you feel after overeating day after day and gaining back all the weight you had lost (or not yet lost) in the previous months.

We get it 

And we want to help you prevent that from happening this year. Let this year be different, where you can still enjoy an amazing time, good food and fun gifts with your loved-ones, but without stressing the scale afterwards. In this blog post we will give you a 9-step guideline to survive this holiday season without drifting further away from your fitness goal.

Our 9-step plan for you:

Step 1: Get an overview of what's to come

Organization is everything. Make an overview of all the parties you’re expected to attend, the dinners you have to organize, the work parties, receptions or any other event where food will be served.

Which days are very busy? What are the ‘relaxing’ days in between? Make them visual in your calendar or any other way that suits you, then go to step 2.

Step 2: Decide on cheat meals (not days)

This might be one of the tougher steps in this guideline. For this step it is important to look at your scheduled events and decide which ones are truly worth indulging in. Pick 2 or 3 parties, throughout all the festivities, where you know you want to enjoy it to the fullest, company, food and drinks included. Mark them to visualize it.

These 2 or 3 events you can go all out (more on that later) without feeling any guilt. Enjoy it completely, you deserve it. It is a festive season after all. No regrets later, because you will be taking other steps to prevent the scale from going crazy.

Remember that we’re talking about cheat meals, not cheat weeks. For all the other events you will have to be more conscious of your eating/drinking behavior to prevent yourself from going all out every time.

Step 3: Anticipate on your cheat meals

In order for you to go all out during cheat meals without regrets, you should take into account following things:

  • Drink more water, before, during and after the event
  • Eat less calories beforehand
  • Take a walk after your dinner

Drinking more water will slightly fill up your stomach with more than snacks. It doesn’t contain any calories, fills you up a little bit, but still leaves enough room for that dessert (or 3 desserts). Just what you need.

Another reason to drink more water (mostly after the event) is because of dehydration. If alcohol or a lot of coffee with your dessert is involved, our bodies dry out. Drink enough water to replenish (and help with that hangover too).

Eat less before the event

If you know you are going all out during that day’s event, most likely going over that total amount of calories you’re supposed to take in a day, it is wise to eat less calories beforehand. On the morning of a big event, eat fruits instead of your bread with cheese or chocolate and go for veggies or something small for lunch. Or even skip a meal if possible. This way you leave a lot of calories to take in during the event and you prevent going over double or triple the amount of calories you should have.

If weight loss is your goal you may or may not know that it is important to have less calories going in than the amount you burn. When you go all out during your cheat meal (and enjoying the tasty foods), you’ll take more calories in than needed. A good way to counter this, is by burning more calories as well. Doing something easy as taking a walk after dinner already yields many benefits, one of them being you are burning yet more calories.

Step 4: Follow certain rules during non-cheat events

Of course there are still events that didn’t make it to your cheat choices and then there are the days between the parties where you have loads of leftovers and don’t know where you’re head is anymore. Following rules are you guideline for your non-cheat meals:

  • Don’t eat all the leftovers because you feel bad you would otherwise throw them away. Instead freeze whatever you can (to enjoy a cheat meal in the future). Another option is to give it away to family members or anyone who can’t afford a nice meal this holiday season
  • Keep your attention on your calendar/overview: look forward to the events you marked as cheat meals to keep the focus off of this non-cheat event. Prevent yourself from feeling guilty and full of regrets by committing to your cheat- and non-cheat events
  • On non-cheat days you want to eat more vegetables and proper meals beforehand. This will make you feel fuller already, so you won’t feel too hungry and tempted to eat everything available there. Focus on your goal and stick to the healthier options available and definitely don’t overeat. Also, enjoy the company rather than the food and drinks. Because isn’t that what these days are all about? Spending time with friends and family? I know that is what it means for me.

Step 5: Choose healthier snack or menu options (if cooking yourself)

If you’re the one organizing the dinner or having to bring a dish to the party, you get the chance to prove to everyone that healthy eating can be delicious and festive.

Make a fancy 3-course meal, but choose some of the healthier options: go for wholegrain products, replace butter with olive oil, add loads of veggies, make healthy snacks like roasted chickpeas, veggies with a hummus dip or guacamole, potato chips in the oven, … The possibilities are endless and you can find so many different options if you Google them. Good luck trying out new recipes to wow your guests.

If you’re not cooking yourself, scan the event for the healthy options, they’re usually available. Eat only until 80% full (no overeating, I can’t stress it enough) and keep the calorie-dense foods for your cheat meals.

Step 6: Don't forget your physical activity throughout the holidays

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I’ve already discussed the importance of taking a walk after dinner (even if it’s a short 10-15min walk). The benefits you get from physical activity are so big, that it would be a shame not to take up exercising, especially during this season.

Exercising is good for your cardiovascular health, your metabolic health, your bones and muscles, your mental health, your weight loss journey. Relieve some of the stress by doing a workout and burn the extra calories that would otherwise turn into more body fat.

Parties and receptions usually indicate either a lot of sitting or a lot of standing in one place. This can in turn give you back problems. Doing the right exercises daily prevents this from happening (read our blog post)

Step 7: Work with a personal trainer

It might be harder to keep yourself accountable to do a workout if you feel like you’re short on time between getting the last gifts and groceries, cooking, and getting the kids ready for the party.

One of the reasons people get a personal trainer is to create a sense of accountability and get support. Your personal trainer will work around your schedule, will make an action plan, customized for you during the holidays and will give you support throughout.

He will know what you need (during and outside of the workouts) to keep moving forward. This way you know you’ll hit your physical activity targets and it will be easier to keep on track with your health goal.

Step 8: If you haven't done so already, make fitness resolutions for the new year with someone else (and take up on my offer)

One thing we’re very good at is making New Year’s resolutions (and then not sticking to them). To get the most out of these resolutions and have the highest chance of reaching your goals, I suggest finding a partner for your goals.

Find someone willing to put in the same effort as you to reach a weight loss goal, healthy lifestyle habit goal, exercise twice a week goal, …
If you have someone to share the journey with, you’re more likely to stick to it.

And if weight loss is your goal, but you’re struggling to find the right way to get there, let me be your solution! I keep you accountable to get the results you want. Choose from our programs and let’s work together. If you find yourself a partner for your goals, you can even join our small group training to work out together.


Either way, if you make resolutions concerning your health, don’t just make a goal, make a plan with it and take action to see the changes you want.

Step 9: Don't panic, don't stress, enjoy and leave your worries behind in 2023

And last but not least, after everything I just told you, the most important thing to remember is to not stress, not worry and enjoy every single moment. Stress is a big cause of (emotional) overeating, feeling overwhelmed, making bad decisions, and also has a big impact on your body and how it handles the food that enters your body.

Weight loss with high stress levels is not possible. Find a way to calm down, whether it be some ‘me-time’, breathing techniques, yoga, a walk, screaming it out, or doing a workout. Get the stress out, leave the worries behind and be grateful for whatever this year has brought you.

Take action for the new year

Take this 9-step guideline to get you through the holiday season and enjoy it even more knowing you’re not ruining all the progress you had might ‘ve made already in your health journey. If not, let this be the start of it and take it up in 2024 with our customized personal training programs. Contact me for more information or go ahead and book that free consultation to talk about your specific goals.

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