And I’m not talking about digging into the four plates of holiday food either! It’s a time to dig into your goals and not give into temptations and societal “norms.”

Halloween marked the beginning of a challenging two months for anyone’s diets. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, followed by Christmas and then New Year. Most of us find ourselves indulging in the same format of celebration. We share time with family, eat wonderful buffets, and drink a few holiday cocktails. We find ourselves anticipation these events and adjusting our lives accordingly. Maybe we spend some extra time in the gym, promise that we won’t graze the dessert table, or perhaps kick off the New Year with a new and exciting workout routine.

As the owner of my own health and wellness agency, even I found myself doing these exact same techniques in the past. Actually, I would do all three. I found myself over-training in the gym and “cutting carbs (carbohydrates)” from my diet. I become exhausted and sore. I looked at the buffet as my reward for all of my hard work leading up to the holidays. Yet, I craved more sugar than ever because I cut out almost every carb from my diet. I thought that I was doing myself a favor! The only thing that went through my head was “I deserve this!” and “It’s ok, I’m beginning a new exercise routine after the new year.”

After each family celebration (buffet) I found myself too fatigued to exercise. Not just physically, but mentally. I saw all of my hard work disappear right before my eyes. Like most everyone, I exercise to see resulting and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel a bit healthy over these two months. It was a vicious cycle.

As I talk to clients, they often ask what they can do to prevent weight gain over the holidays. Last year I took some time to reflect on this very issue. It seemed that I would take two steps forward, only to end up three (or four) steps back after the holidays. Needless to say, I had nothing to show for all of this effort that I put fourth towards my health and wellness. I will let you in on exactly what I now share with my clients:

1. Don’t look at food and drinking as your means of celebration. Instead, focus more on giving and spending more quality family time. We often find ourselves placing what we eat as a mark of celebrating. In essence, we should view food as merely a means to fuel our body. We are not celebrating food, but more so the time that we get to share with those in our company.

2. Set up a challenge for #1. Last year I challenged myself not to eat at the family gathering (what!?). The environment promotes over eating and alcohol consumption. Instead, I focused on sharing time with the family and friends around me. They were the celebration, not the food. When people gave me a hard time, I simple shared with them #3:

3. Begin your New Year diet NOW! Why not? Now you have given yourself an excuse not to over eat and a way to show that you do indeed have self-control. Does this mean you shouldn’t eat at the event? No. But now, rather than looking as the buffet with the mindset “I earned this,” you’re now viewing the buffet as merely a means to fuel your body along your new journey to a HEALTHIER YOU.

4. Lastly, I came to this conclusion during my last family celebration. To be honest, the food was not that special. Aside from the baked ham and a few family recipes, I could indulge in these food any time I choose. The store bought biscuits, potatoes, pies, and cookies will still be on the shelves tomorrow, I promise!

So I end this article with a challenge. Many GRAPE readers know that I’m a health and wellness advocate. I challenge all of those who enjoyed this article to begin your wellness journey TODAY. Don’t wait for the New Year to begin your fitness program. If you do, you’ll begin three steps back rather than two steps forward. I preach to my client my theory of constant progress and I will do the same to everyone who takes their time to read this article.

If you’re looking to begin a healthier lifestyle and are not sure where to begin; I encourage you to reach out to me personally. The reason I started my company, Professional Fitness Consulting, was to help you reach and maintain you wellness goals. It’s amazing how a few simple changes in your health can bring new opportunities, confidence, and happiness to your life.

If you’re up for the challenge I ask that you either comment below pledging your commitment or send me an e-mail so we can remain in contact. Hearing your success stories always make my day more meaningful. I wish all of you wonderful health and wellness as we enter the holiday season!

Blog Post by Kyle Johnson, Owner, Personal Fitness Agent at Professional Fitness Consulting

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