Nutrition Articles

Lose Weight Over the Holidays!

20 Tips to Eat, Drink--and Still Shrink!

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For weeks, you have tracked your food and exercised regularly to improve your health and alter the shape of your body. More than a "diet" or a fitness fad, you've created real lifestyle changes and built the confidence that you can stick with it for the long haul. So why is the winter holiday season so intimidating—even scary—for so many?

The answer is complex. Sure, there's the food. Unlike other food-centric holidays like Valentine's Day or Halloween, the winter holiday season lasts for weeks. There are more parties, more potlucks, more food gifts, more cookies and well, just more everything! And these temptations won't be going away any time soon. Then there's the stress. Buying gifts, volunteering, decorating, cooking and party hopping often take the place of cooking healthy meals at home or hitting the gym. Like an infant sitting on Santa's lap for the first time, it's no wonder we're scared of the holidays and the infamous weight gain they encourage. How can we keep up with a healthy diet and fitness program—let alone lose weight—with all of this going on around us, day after day?

That answer is simple: Stick with your plan. You've overcome temptations and slip-ups before. Every day poses challenges, yet you remain strong and continue to make progress toward your goals. Why should the holidays be any different? If you want to lose weight this month, you can. You just have to choose to stay in control, one day at a time. Here are 20 tips that will help you keep holiday weight gain at bay and lose a few pounds by new year. 
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

    waw! great article! i only regret that i didn't read it one month earlier, but now i know what to do next time when i go to a party full with junk foods! thk - 1/9/2015 8:01:37 PM
  • Good suggestions. The only problem is tracking unusual foods. If they're not on the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker, you have to go looking on another site, or guesstimate the number of calories without putting them into the tracker. - 12/13/2014 6:52:31 PM
  • The idea of re-gifting baked goods at a homeless shelter is fantastic. While the homeless do need good, healthy food, they also need a jolt of holiday spirit and Christmas cookies just might fill the bill. Happy Holidays to ALL!!!

    - 12/16/2013 1:08:56 PM
  • interesting article, i will try it... - 11/24/2011 6:37:35 AM
  • My plan for the Holiday season is to keep drinking 4 glasses of water before breakfast.
    4 glasses of water before dinner.
    If I am going to a party, I bring a bottle of water with me.
    I limit my consumption of alchohol to one glass of white wine.
    I went to my son's house for dinner lastnight and I enjoyed it!
    I ate homemade macaroni and cheese and shark.
    I added 10 minutes to my cardio workout this morning!
    I am going to a birthday party on saturday.
    I am going to add another day of exercise this week!

    Wish me luck! - 12/1/2010 11:41:57 PM
  • One year my office job inundated me with chocolate and alcohol. I'll admit: I kept the alcohol. I don't drink much so I am able to take it home and keep it. The chocolate, however, was another matter. I received upwards of 10 boxes personally. Every night I took that day's boxes and left them in an ally for the homeless to find. If I found a homeless person, I left it with them. Although the homeless struggle with health issues, the extra fat and sugar can help them keep warm during the bitter cold of winter in the north eastern US. So if you're an urban dweller, you might want to consider this tactful way of dealing with unwanted holiday candy and cookies. - 12/1/2010 12:12:16 PM
    I love the idea of "Scheduling your workout like an appointment"! I'm going to give this a try now in preparation for Christmas/New Years. My exercise minutes Thanksgiving week were rather sad. - 11/28/2010 11:02:58 PM
  • I like the idea putting the focus on friends & family not food. That's what the holiday season is really supposed to be about. If I'm visiting & talking, it's a lot harder to be chewing at the same time. :-)

    Maintaining exercise really can make a difference. One year, I took in a foster dog from mid Nov. through the holidays with the idea of having him adopted by Christmas. He'd previously been kenneled, so we did 2 & 3 mile walks daily, sometimes more. Plus I walked my own dog. It's the only time I've ever lost 10 pounds over the holidays without trying! Maybe I ought to try it again! - 11/21/2010 2:14:07 AM
    These are all excellent tips and provide helpful advice for surviving the holidays (that are filled with hectic days and tempting treats). - 12/15/2009 7:12:24 AM
  • I did bring some fresh veggies to a unexpected invitation to a dinner party. The veggies were a hit. I was so glad because I made sure I ate a cup of them, so I know I had about 2 servings at least at lunch. - 1/1/2009 9:30:40 PM
  • I started SparkPeople just about a year ago, but I have lost my way for the past few months. I have decided to "start over" now, even though it is the holiday season. I did it before; I can do it now.

    Really, for anyone, this is a better gift to give yourself than traditional material gift. Thank you, Coach Nicole, for the reinforcement. I had one cookie that turned to three this evening, but after seeing this, I am ready to get back in the saddle. - 12/9/2008 10:24:56 PM
  • One of the best articles ever on how to take charge of your own weight during the holidays. We are not victims of the season after all--who know? :D Excellent concrete suggestions. I plan for some of the items in my wardrobe to be a little less snug in January! - 12/9/2008 12:29:23 AM
  • Limit alcohol is the easiest for me, since I don't care about drinking at all. - 12/5/2008 5:37:34 PM
    All excellent reminders - thanks, Coach Nicole! - 12/4/2008 8:26:38 AM
  • This (as most others on SparkPeople) is a very well-written and informative article! Every year I fell into the trap of parties, cookies, "Mom's House" and etc., and inevitably gained 10 or more pounds, always feeling like a "sausage" in my jeans, and unable to find anything that looked nice on me when I looked in the mirror! The last few years I have concentrated on attending WeightWatcher meetings religiously from October first to January 1st with the main objective of staying motivated and on program. Knowing I was accountable each week to step on the scales (no matter what program you follow) will keep you motivated and accountable over the holidays and you won't feel that "squeeze" after the holidays. Perfect timing for the article. Now I hope lots of people follow their advice. I know that I will for sure!!! - 12/3/2008 6:49:31 PM

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