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4 Ways to Stay Focused This Holiday Season

By , SparkPeople Blogger
At this point in the year, holiday parties and special events are in full swing.  It makes this time of year especially hectic, with many of these activities likely revolving around food.  Is it possible to stay on track with your eating plan when you’re surrounded by temptation and have no clue what’s in the dish someone else has prepared?  Is it possible to stay on track with your fitness plan when you’ve got other commitments and can’t attend your regular gym class?  The answer is ''yes''! Just like anything else, if you make your health a priority, you’ll find the time and motivation to exercise and make good food choices.  Here are some simple tips to help you stay focused this holiday season.

1.  When you’re headed to a holiday event where food and drinks will be
     served, have a game plan.
  • Don’t arrive hungry, because you’re more likely to overeat. 
  • Budget for roughly how many calories you want to consume, and try to stick to it.  Even if you don’t know exactly what’s in the dish, be aware of portion sizes and estimate as much as possible.
  • Fill your plate with ''healthy'' stuff, such as fruit and vegetables.  Avoid dips, heavy cream sauces, and other extras that pack on the calories without filling you up. 
  • If dessert is being served and you really want it, go light on dinner or limit the serving size.
  • Opt for water instead of alcohol, or at least limit your consumption.  Besides the extra calories, alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making you more likely to overeat. 
Check out more tips to keep from overeating at a party and to bust the holiday overeating excuses.
2.  When special events conflict with your gym schedule, don’t give up!  Get

  • Break your workout into 10-minute segments throughout the day so that you don’t have to find one large chunk of time for exercise.
  • Consider a morning workout at home so that you can get it done and get on with your day. 
  • Even if you can’t find time for a workout, adding some additional activity throughout your day is better than nothing.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the store, walk to a co-worker’s office instead of sending an email, etc.  All of these small bits of activity add up.
3.  Set 2-3 goals to work toward over the next month to keep you focused.   
  • Set a specific weight-loss or even weight-maintenance goal.  Maintaining your weight over the holidays is a huge accomplishment, since the average person gains five pounds or more at this time of year. 
  • Start an exercise streak of at least 10 minutes of activity per day.  This helps you maintain a pattern of consistency and also keeps exercise top-of-mind, even on your busiest days.  
  • Find a way to make time for yourself every day.  Even if it’s 10 minutes of quiet while waiting for the kids to come out of school, something is better than nothing.  Use this time to reflect on your goals and make adjustments so that you can be successful, even during a typically stressful time of year. 
  • Enlist the help of those around you to help you stay on track.  How can you create a more supportive environment so that you are less tempted to fall into bad habits and keep making progress toward your goals?
4.   Establish new healthy traditions for you and your family.
  • Instead of sitting on the couch watching football, plan to go ice skating, walk around a holiday lights display, or do something else that gets everyone moving. 
  • Host a healthy potluck instead of baking cookies and other tempting desserts.  If you're going to bake, plan to give most (or all) of it away as gifts.  
  • Start a ''healthy choices challenge'' for you and your family.  Score points for exercising, drinking enough water, tracking food, etc.  A little friendly competition with a nice reward at the end is great incentive and makes healthy living fun.
Staying on track isn’t always easy, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to be perfect.  There are those times when you eat or drink a little more than anticipated, or skip a planned workout to go Christmas shopping instead.  As long as you learn from your mistakes and continue moving forward, you’re on the right track.

What are you doing to stay focused this holiday season?  Share your tips in the comments below!   

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