Ah, the holiday season.
It's the time of year we break out the boots, scarves and sweaters we have been dreaming about all year.
It's the time to bring to reality those winter outfits we have been pinning on Pinterest all year long.
Puffer vests, cardigans and beanies, oh my!
But, with all of the clothes we will be layering, there also comes the tendency to put on a nice, warm layer of fat.
Unfortunately, the holiday season often brings with it some extra pounds, and unless you're the type of person so genetically blessed you gain weight in your boobs, this means a nice layer of fat may be added to those abs you've been working on all year.
Well, cooler weather and the holiday season brings with it heartier foods and family gatherings. Sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, pies and homemade rolls are commonplace this time of year.
If you're like me and you've worked all year to FINALLY achieve even the slightest semblance of a six-pack, your anxiety level skyrockets when you arrive to grandma's to see the countless casseroles and pies scattered around the kitchen.
The thought of even slightly undoing the never-ending hours spent in the gym is enough to make you want to cry.
So, how do we avoid those few pounds most Americans pack on during the holiday season?
1. Don't stress too much.
If you're anything like me, the holidays are stressful.
Buying Christmas presents for family and friends, planning traveling if your family is out of town and fitting in quality time with visitors can put a crimp on your free time.
As a result, gym time may suffer, but DON'T stress. Stress can actually cause you to gain wait (the thought of which actually makes me stress).
Your family likes to nag you and ask you a million questions? Let it roll off of your back.
You are secure and happy in your life, and that is all that matters.
Your budget is a little tight for Christmas presents? Make something for them!
Pinterest works wonders for Christmas gifts on a budget.
Traveling got you stressed? Make a to-do list and check one item off each day in the one or two weeks leading up to the trip.
Do all you can to set yourself up for success, stress-wise.
2. Try to exercise.
You should try to exercise one hour, three days a week, 30 minutes, five days a week or 15 minutes, seven days a week.
The fact of the matter is, if you want to make, time you will make time. You have so many options!
You can do a longer workout three days a week. You could do a half-hour five days a week.
Or, if you are crunched for time, fit in a 15-minute high-intensity interval training workout every day.
For that one, you can run ladders, do burpees, box jumps, squat jumps, mountain climbers, etc. If it involves high effort and gets your heart rate going, it is high intensity.
Make the time, and see the results.
3. Eat small snacks throughout the day.
We hear this all the time, right? Eat small snacks throughout the day, every two hours, and watch your weight be managed or drop.
But what does this look like? Is a small snack a bagel? A sandwich? An apple? How big is small?
Small is, well, small. Snack time isn't a whole other meal.
The point of small snacks throughout the day is to curb your appetite so you don't go big during meals.
It's an apple and a string cheese. It's avocado on toast. It's a serving of almonds and grapes.
A snack should be 200 to 300 calories max. And, your meals should not exceed 500 to 600 calories.
If you have one snack between breakfast and lunch, and one between lunch and dinner, you will see success.
But again, be mindful. Opt for whole foods, not processed.
If it comes in a box, a bag, a pouch or a wrapper, it is probably heavily processed and not so good for you.
Veggies, fruits and proteins are your best friends.
4. Be mindful when you drink.
Notice, I didn't put avoid alcohol.
Let's be real: 'Tis the season. You will be going out with friends who are home for the holidays. You will be going to your aunt't house where the wine will be flowing.
It is unavoidable, unless you just don't like to drink anyways. So, how do we set ourselves up for success here?
Again, it's being mindful. My usual drink of choice is Malibu and pineapple. I'm addicted.
But, this is a drink I can do because we go out maybe once every five weeks. Around the holiday season, I opt for a red wine at dinner get-togethers, and I switch to a lighter mixed drink — vodka and diet cranberry or vodka and water with lime and lemon.
Find a switch that works for you during the season when you know the gatherings will be more frequent. And be mindful at meals.
If you're going to drink a lot, save it for after meals. You'll be less likely to overeat if you aren't tipsy or drunk.
5. Show grace to yourself.
You will "slip up." You will go for a second or third piece of pie (oops).
You will miss several gym days in a row. You will wake up, and your abs will have disappeared, or your stomach will seem softer.
It's natural. But, you have to show grace to yourself.
If you are constantly beating yourself up and criticizing yourself, you will find yourself down, depressed and potentially emotionally eating.
Instead, allow yourself room to grow and to stumble. It is a part of life, and it is OK.
What matters most is how you move on after the fact. Six days of good habits will ALWAYS outweigh one day of bad choices.
The holidays don't have to mean your healthy habits go out the door.
Wear that oversized, chunky sweater because you love it, not because you feel you have to hide anything.
Keep all of this in mind and I promise, you will find your best holiday body yet!