Three Strategies to Have Fun and Not Gain Weight over the Holidays


Forget trying to lose weight over the holidays. It’s not going to happen. But a very good goal is to not gain weight over the holidays. Well, to not gain weight but also to not miss out on fun and…OMG…holiday cookies…the most amazing treats in the world. Oh, and to be social is so much fun! Watching your weight doesn’t have to get in the way. Think of it this way…do you want to be gassy and bloated or adorable, social and satisfied?

From an intercultural perspective, there are those who eat for sustenance and those who love to eat (aka foodies);  those who forget to eat (who are you?) and those who plan their day around meals; and those who can eat whatever they like and never gain weight, and those who just think about food and gain weight.

I’m a combo of love food + think about food and gain,and also someone who also wants to look sassy in my New Year’s Eve dress. So, below are my strategies for not gaining weight during the holidays. NONE of them are nutritionist approved. They are informed by being a health fitness professional (aka an aerobics instructor); having been on most diets at some point in my life and experience from things that have worked for me. All of them will let you drink, eat cookies, go out with friends and family, and overall have fun and enjoy life.

Strategy 1. Don’t eat when you are by yourself during the holidays.

No, this is not about a sad image of you with a spoon and a tub of ice cream (that has its place and time!). It’s just that calories are calories…no matter when you eat them. So save yours for when others are around. It doesn’t mean skipping meals when you are home alone. But skip the snacks so that you can enjoy them at home with family or out with friends.

There are plenty of apps or websites out there to determine how many calories you can have daily to lose weight or stay the same. I like the Lose It App. I get 1337 a day for my height, age, current weight and goal weight. I manage to stay pretty close to my target, although I have been known to eat my breakfast calories the day before (or once got an inspirational message from Lose It saying “Keep it up. If every day were like today you will reach your goal on June 23, 2041.”) Knowing how many calories in things can help you make informed decisions and realize that yes, even one bite does have calories to be counted.

You know you are going to be around other people so save the calories for when you are together. If you are craving that cookie (150 to 200 calories?) have it when you can share the decadence with someone else—much more fun. Or, when the husband and kids suggest ice cream for dessert, you won’t have to either a.) Act holier than thou on your will power by abstaining, or b.) Admit that was you at 2 pm with the aforementioned spoon and tub.

Strategy 2. Exercise

If you are a regular exerciser, keep it up. Actually write in on your schedule as a commitment to plan around. Take a walk around the block (71 calories for a 15 minute mile walk) Park at the back of the parking lot (30 calories both ways). Clean your house (167 calories for an hour…there’s your cookie right there); stretch while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Bad Santa” or “Elf” (188 calories for two hours of STRETCHING!).

During the holidays it’s about maintaining…and calories are a math equation. Food in adds calories; Exercise out burns calories.

Strategy 3. Eat foods for which you can actually know the calories.

This is the party version of “whole foods.” White or red wine (125 calories per glass); vodka with soda (club soda is the best mixer to not add calories—80 calories total—plus you can add water to the glass after you finish to make it last longer—still a little liquor-ish flavor and it looks like you still have a drink) are easier to count than a fancy frou-frou drink. The fewer ingredients in something the easier it is to calculate the calories. Even a Buffalo Chicken wing (54 calories) is better than a loaded potato skin—because, what is potato + cheese + bacon + sour cream + whatever else is on it? Who knows? Everything has countable calories, so choose things where you can count the calories.

Tried and True Tricks

Some of the other tricks are tried and true…Eat slowly, no dressing on your salad (or dressing on the side, so you can control how much); sauces on the side, red sauce over white sauce; order from the side dishes list at the restaurant; skip the bread (or just one piece…it is so good when hot!); drink a glass of water between drinks with alcohol, share a dessert with the whole table, go to the bathroom when it’s time for the check (ha ha) etc.

With any habit—they take about three weeks to be ingrained. So, start now and you will already be on your way for a healthy new year come January. And, back to the Intercultural…don’t hate the skinny girl (and don’t even call her that because it’s judging her on superficial, physical characteristics)…look at what’s on her plate, see what she’s eating, keep pace with her at the mall for faster walking, and perhaps pick up another tip or two and share them in the comments. We got this!