This time of year is tough! It seems like no matter how hard I try sweets will inevitably find its way into my kitchen. It could be a well-meaning friend that baked some holiday cookies for a get together, or maybe it’s my son Liam who is selling chocolate bars through the school.
Sweets always find a way in my home – and then into my belly.
I’m not one to preach “no sugar ever – under any circumstances!” but I do know how horrible those little white crystals are for your health.
I totally get enjoying an occasional cookie or having a piece of cake here and there for a celebration… but this time of year it feels like from Thanksgiving to the New Year is one long party.
A few years ago I really struggled with balance.
How can I support Liam without stuffing my face with those delicious chocolate bars? How can I say “thank you” to my well-meaning friend but find the motivation to not eat their sugary snacks?
Being in the fitness field I’ve learned a few things over time. I thought I’d share them with you in hopes that they’d help you out during this festive time of year.
Trick #1: When money is an option… opt for that.
I could buy cookies to support Liam, but I can also just give money instead. Although it’s super cute buying chocolate from a 5-year-old, the goal is to raise money and I can give him $10 cash instead and just skip the entire chocolate part.
Often times there are simple solutions like this. It’s a win-win because I don’t have to bring sweets into the house and I still get to support the school.
Trick #2: Just say thank you and find the trash.
This one is sometimes hard for people because it seems so… well… bad. These days I have my routine down to a science. I know when I can splurge and when I can’t. So when sugary snacks find their way into my kitchen – even if they’re from an awesome friend… sometimes they find their way to the trash.
Not always, and not always ALL of them, but sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – I TRULY appreciate the gesture and the thought, but I know my body, my goals, my habits, and I, want to be happy.
I’ve also passed the food along to other friends, but I felt weird about giving sugar to others I care about. Donating is an immediate thought, but they can only accept canned goods and unopened boxes of food for safety reasons.
And I already knew from my past that if I let cookies sit in my kitchen, or if I try to come up with a rule like only 1 cookie after dinner… well… I knew it wouldn’t work.
So for my own health… I have to trash them.
If you are someone who is pretty good friends with some really awesome people who LOVE to bake you gifts, try to bring up your fitness goals or nutrition habits in conversation. Although it feels weird sometimes, there is no shame in casually mentioning your goals and how you watch what you eat.
You might be surprised that someone who was getting you baked goods might now just get you a card and a lottery ticket instead.
A chance to do the crossword scratch card is much better for my belly than a cookie any day.
Trick #3: Set a Minimum Effective Standard (MES).
This takes time to develop but is insanely powerful. You set a minimum effective standard on a scale of 1-10 for the things you enjoy.
Anything over that standard you eat, and anything under you don’t.
A client I have is spectacular at this. She loves chocolate, but over time we have set a standard for how good the chocolate needs to be. It started as a 6/10, which meant a lot of chocolate still got eaten, but now it’s up to an 8 or 9.
With practice she is even able to have a bit, ask herself “is this an 8 or 9 out of 10?”, and if isn’t up to par, she just doesn’t eat the rest. If it is, she enjoys it, guilt-free.
So things like those chocolate coins wrapped in foil don’t make the cut, but a really nice Lindor or Godiva chocolate does.
This way you don’t just say “NO CHOCOLATE!” (which lasts like 3 days, who are we kidding?), but you cut out all the chocolate you don’t really enjoy that much anyways and save the calories for when it’s something you truly love.
I personally use this with alcohol. I’ve never really been one to just have a casual beer – I don’t drink much unless it’s a minimum standard of fun.
Normal weekday night? No chance.
Friends over for dinner? I’ll have a beer, maybe 2.
Going out like I do once every few months now? I’ll have fun. And have no regrets about it either, as it was worth it to me.
Let me ask you – What tricks do you have to help you get through the holidays?
If this time of year is hard for you – or you are thinking about taking action on your goals in the new year – book a call and see if we can help. It’s not about how “strict” you can be with your diet, it’s the strategies like I laid out above that help you succeed.