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Season’s tough for staying on track

Christmas is generally a time of the year that I enjoy greatly, and while this year, I am still enjoying the holiday season, it's not the same as years past.

Christmas is generally a time of the year that I enjoy greatly, and while this year, I am still enjoying the holiday season, it's not the same as years past.

In holidays past, Christmas had been enjoyed by indulging in lots of delicious goodies and big holiday dinners with family and friends.

Family and friends are still very much a part of this year's plan, but I've had to make some tough decisions when it comes to indulging in all the food I normally would have and making some smart(er) decisions about exercising. I suspect, like me, lots of people find this time of year tough, especially when you are trying to work on your health. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences and take some solace in the fact that if I can enjoy the holidays while working on my health and fitness, then so can you.

I attended this year's work Christmas party early in December. There is usually a decent selection of reasonably healthy salads, but no one wants to pick through a salad while everyone else is chowing down on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Whatever you do, do not show up to Christmas party starving. Making good choices will be 10 times harder!

I ate throughout the day, but I ate light because I knew I wouldn't be able resist a lot of my not-so-healthy favourites. I had the following off the buffet line for dinner: mashed potatoes, stuffing (and lots of it!), turkey with gravy, Caesar salad, lasagna, brussel sprouts and mixed veggies. I enjoyed every last bit.

Dessert was buffet style as well, and of course, I indulged.

This occurred just four days before the final weigh in of my gym's weight loss challenge, and I was miraculously down a pound from the week before. The two key factors that played into my success were planning and portions.

The day of the Christmas party, I knew I would indulge later on, so I ate light throughout the day. I also made it to the gym that morning, so I could feel guilt-free about eating some extra calories. When I made up my plate at the buffet line, I scoped out what I really wanted, I left behind a lot of things I normally would have taken for filler (like bread and butter), in place of items that I knew I would really enjoy.

If you are going to consume extra calories, it should be worthwhile. If something doesn't taste good, I don't eat it. While this can be wasteful and hard for some people to do, I have to recognize that I spent most of my life justifying what I was eating, and not enough time saying no, thank you.

Analyze what's in front of you. If you aren't crazy about it, then maybe that's a cue to move on to something that actually makes your heart sing. It's hard to say no, but every time you do, you gain strength from your commitment.

Another thing that is different for me this year is that I'm not forgoing my gym routine, in favour of lazy days around the house, using the holidays as an excuse.

I committed to this as a lifestyle and I will see it through, holidays or not. Getting daily exercise has helped tremendously with my stress and anxiety, and stress can be a huge problem for many people over the holidays. Keeping with my fitness routine has kept me grounded, more relaxed, and more able to make healthy decisions.

I also find that when I allow myself treats, I don't feel guilty because I know that I will be back in the gym to burn it off. A day or two off from your routine isn't going to be the end but don't' let it turn into the same bad habits you've worked so hard to change. Have a plan in place and stick to it.

Christmas comes once a year, so enjoy it. Just don't let it derail you and all your hard work.