Five Tips for Staying On Track During the Holidays

The Rundown

It's hard to stay on track with your health goals during the holidays. Here are 5 easy ways to help you be successful.

Stephanie Stamas, PT, DPT, ATC, PRPC
Stephanie Stamas, PT, DPT, ATC, PRPC
Mom of a 2yo and 4yo. Doctor of Physical Therapy. Pelvic Floor Expert.

The November and December holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but they can also be hard on health goals. With the change in schedule, traveling and abundance of food, it can be hard to stay on track.

As moms, this isn’t anything new. Motherhood is ripe with unpredictable schedules and curveballs, so building a habit is important. There are always reasons to fall off the wagon, whether it’s family sickness, sleep regressions, or holidays. There’s grace for us when we fall off, but it’s on us to stand right back up.

These 5 tips for staying on track are less about the holidays and more about creating a sustainable habit that will keep you on track year-round. 

1. Make a Plan

Remember Ben Franklin from history class? He nailed it when he said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” So how exactly do you plan in the face of uncertainty? Research suggestions that the way you plan has a significant impact on your success. It’s tempting to do forward planning: where you think of what you need to do in chronological order. But studies show forward planning is less effective than backwards planning: starting from your desired outcome and working backwards.

Try this: think about where you want to be in January. Be specific with your goals. If it’s weight loss, set an exact number. If it's consistency, write down the number of days you want to be working out. Then work backwards. What do you need to do in December to set yourself up for success? Keep working backwards until you get to today. Now think through what you need to do today. 

2. Find Accountability

The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) looked at how successful people were in achieving goals on their own versus with accountability. They found that when someone sets a goal in their head, they only have about a 10% chance of achieving it. Yikes!

However, If you take the time to map out a timeline for your goal, the chances increase to 40%! That’s a huge increase, but the odds are still not in your favor. That’s where accountability comes in. 

If you tell someone about your goal, your chances automatically go up to 65%! And if you have someone to do weekly consistent check-in’s with you, chances go up to 95%!

That’s great news for us moms, because staying on track through busy schedules and sleepless nights is hard. If you’re needing accountability this season, let me tell you about Chelsea Squads. Squads are groups of 10-15 moms who help to keep each other accountable through a chat group. They’re easy and fun, and members love them.

3. Workout in the morning

If you’re traveling, have family in town, or know you’re going to have a different schedule than usual, now is the time to think about when you will get in your workout. Working out early in the morning allows you to get it out of the way in case something comes up later in the day. If you’re staying with family, you can coordinate a time to sneak away to exercise while they watch your little one.

4. Drink Water

It’s easy to forget about drinking water, but water is essential for good energy, cognitive alertness and fullness. You also might misinterpret thirst for hunger and try to satisfy your thirst with food. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, studies have shown that drinking two 8-oz glasses of water before a meal makes a big difference. The study looked at two groups of adults eating a low-calorie diet, and found that the group who drank water first, lost 3x as much weight within 12 weeks. It doesn’t get simpler than that!

5. Enjoy yourself

The holidays are a time to enjoy the people you’re with and the food you’re eating. Even if you’re trying to lose weight or stay on track with your health goals, it’s ok to eat what you enjoy. Want to be more thoughtful about how much you’re eating? Slow down. Slowing down also helps with digestion and gives your brain time to recognize fullness, which can take up to 20 minutes!

If you’re someone who likes more structure, you can follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the week, stick to your workout routine and eating habits. Twenty percent of the time, go nuts! Once you enjoy your twenty percent, move on. This is a great alternative to the all-or-nothing mindset that can leave you feeling discouraged when you “fail.”

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