11 Tips for Surviving + Thriving During the Holidays

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The holidays are upon us, and that means more family gatherings, work parties, neighborhood and community parties, friend get-togethers, and other types of celebrations. It’s a time for making memories with those who are closest to us, enjoying time together, creating new relationships and strengthening old ones, and enjoying all the things the holidays offer this time of year.

What do the holidays and all of the holiday-related events have in common? Food, most likely. Foods that we might only eat during the holidays that are often loaded with extra calories, sugar, fat, and sodium. If you’ve got a transformation goal, navigating the holidays—and all that delicious holiday food—can be a slippery slope, and once you’re on it, it can be difficult to get off.

While we might think it’s possible to gain several pounds over the holiday season—and it is if you’re not careful, the average holiday weight gain is 1 pound, according to one study. “Average” is the key word here, as the study also found that those with more pounds to lose tended to gain more holiday pounds. However, any holiday weight gain can turn into additional weight gain, especially if we continue into January and beyond stuck in the holiday mindset that led to that weight gain in the first place.

11 Tips for Surviving + Thriving During the Holidays

Even with all of the potential added holiday stress, all those delicious and favorite holiday foods, and the busy-ness that comes with the holidays, it is possible that you and your transformation goals can survive and even thrive during this busy season, and we’re sharing 11 tips to help you do just that.  And please don’t try to take on all 11 tips at once. That’s sure to add more stress to your already full holiday plate, which could make you want to throw in your transformation goal towel and give up until January 2nd or beyond. See which tip is the easiest for you to start with first, and then add in more tips as needed. Which tip will you try first? 

Tip #1. Plan ahead

One key to waking up on January 2nd with your progress on your goals still on track is to plan, plan, plan. After all, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Thank you, Benjamin Franklin, for those powerful words of wisdom! It’s important to plan your meals all year long, but it’s especially crucial during the holidays. Here are some ideas for planning ahead during the holidays:

  • Plan your meals the night before or in the morning before you eat anything. If you’ll be enjoying a holiday gathering, try and plan those meals as best you can into your daily plan. If you have no idea of what foods will be served at a holiday event, plan your meals during the rest of the day with some wiggle room for those events.

Not great at meal planning? We make meal planning super simple in The Transform App. With over 600 meals + the ability to add your own meals, meal planning is an easy to thing to check off your to-do list! 

  • Drink a protein shake before every party or gathering, and keep serving sizes of protein powder handy for a quick meal to keep satisfy those hunger and craving pangs. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning you’ll feel fuller sooner and stay feeling fuller longer, so it’s an awesome tool to have in your holiday plans (and all year round too!) no matter what. 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It can be easy to get out of your hydration routine during the holidays, so make sure you’re drinking at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water every day. Try to remember to drink a tall glass of water before every event, and if you’re tempted to spend some time grazing those holiday foods, keep a glass of water in your hand. A full hand is less likely to graze, after all. This is one of Chris’ favorite holiday tips!

Learn more about the importance of hydration + get some tips to help you stay hydrated all year long!

Tip #2. Move your body

 We all know how important daily movement is, but during the holidays when life gets even crazy busier and we get to eat all our favorite holiday foods, movement becomes even more important for mental and emotional health and to help burn those extra calories we might be enjoying. So, while you’re planning your meals, be sure to plan in some movement every day too. Even a few minutes at a time can help! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Take a holiday walk (don’t forget to include others!), sign up for a holiday race, set a daily step goal, and so on.

Simply hitting a steps goal during the day can make huge difference in your physical and mental health!

  • If you only have time for a few minutes of a planned workout, do those few minutes. After all, a few minutes is much better than ZERO minutes. Walk or jog in place while watching TV or making dinner, do an office workout, set a timer and do some pushups, or squats, or high knees, or other body weight movements you can do easily and almost anywhere, etc. Put your creative movement thinking cap on and make a list of things you can do to get in even a few minutes of movement at any time during the holidays and beyond.
  • Since the kids are out of school off and on during the holidays, plan some fun family activities where you all can move together: Take a hike, explore new parts of your city, have a family activity challenge, and so on. Let the kids help decide what you’ll do and they’ll be more invested in participating.

We’ve got several different workout plans in The Transform App from at-home to gym-based. Try one out today for FREE!

Tip #3. Ditch “all or nothing” thinking

Do you know how many days there are from Thanksgiving Day and January 2nd? 41. When you think about it, the number of holiday-related meals is very small when compared to your total number of meals during those 41 days, which is an important thing to keep in mind. You can enjoy all of those holiday meals and still have plenty of meals where you can stay on plan, and if you go overboard at any meal or even on several meals, don’t give up thinking all is lost. Because it isn’t. Over-enjoying a few holiday meals WILL NOT sabotage your progress towards your goals. If and when this happens (because it happens to the best of us!), get right back on plan the next meal, and you’ll survive and even thrive during the holidays!

Tip #4. Remember: Small things add up.

This tip can go two ways. One is amazing, and one is not so amazing.

  1. If you spend even a few minutes a day on a healthy habit (moving your body, meditating, planning your meals, other forms of self-care, working on a goal, and so on), those few minutes at a time add up to some amazing progress as the months go by. Even during the holidays! 
  2. There is one “small” thing that can become problematic over the holidays and beyond. What’s this small thing? Going over your daily calorie allotment even by a little bit every day or on a lot of days. Here’s a solid fact to keep in mind:


1 pound of fat = 3500 calories


Let’s be honest: It’s super easy to eat 100 calories, and if we eat only 100 calories extra a day, after a little over a month, that’s a pound of fat gain. What does 100 calories look like in some common holiday foods?  You might be surprised!

  • 1 mouthful of brownie 
  • 3 ½ squares of milk chocolate or less than ½ of a regular sized candy bar
  • A little over ½ a bag of a lunch-size bag of potato chips
  • 14 almonds
  • 3 ½ ounces (about ½ cup) of full fat eggnog
  • 2/3 of a frosted sugar cookie
  • 4 Hershey’s kisses
  • ¼ cup of sweet potato casserole (this amount could change depending on your favorite recipe)
  • 2/3 cup green bean casserole
  • Less than 1 roll
  • And so on…

So, while we are totally on board with enjoying the holidays, keep this tip in mind as you’re planning and enjoying your holiday meals. 

Bonus tip: Before eating any holiday foods that might not be your favorites (we often eat foods just because they’re available), ask yourself if that holiday food is worth it. If it is, go for it! If it isn’t, skip it. You’ll realize a few minutes or hours later that you didn’t even miss that food. 

This tip works great year-round too!

Tip #5. Focus on memories over macros.

 The holiday season can be unusually busy and stressful. When you’re committed to your transformation goal, wanting to stay on plan + enjoy the holidays can be stressful too. So, here’s one thing we like to remember over the holidays, or during dream vacations, or family get togethers, or any event where priceless memories can be made:


Memories over macros.


Put the memories you’ll be making at these events over the macros you’ll eating. This does not mean to go all out and eat all the things. It means prioritizing spending time with those you love over worrying about your nutrition plan. What does this look like?

  • Enjoy yourself while staying on plan as best you can and give yourself some grace when that might not go as planned. Remember…you can get right back on track with the next meal.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: 
    • Make sure 80% of your foods are on plan, leaving 20% to enjoy off-plan foods.
    • Make sure 80% of your meals are on plan, leaving 20% of your meals to be off-plan. 

Tip #6. A few bites can be enough!

 It’s pretty common to only eat certain foods during the holidays, and it can be tempting to overindulge OR skip them all together in order to stay on plan. However, neither option is necessary! When dishing up your favorite foods, make sure your serving equals only a few bites, then enjoy and savor every single bite. You might find that, surprisingly, those few bites are enough to satisfy that physical and mental craving for those favorite holiday foods. And just a few bites will not derail your goals!

Tip #7. Share.

When you have holiday parties and celebrations to go to, take your favorite on-plan foods to share. You know you’ll have some options that will keep you on plan, and others who are also working towards transformation goals will thank you too! Another way to enjoy your favorite holiday treats is to keep a bit for yourself and then share the rest with others. Spread the holiday love!

Tip #8. Aim for maintenance.

During the holiday season is not the time to set lofty transformation goals for yourself. Instead, make it a goal to simply maintain your progress, which is totally doable! And if you do progress beyond maintenance during the holiday season, that’s amazing! But if you simply maintain your progress, you’ve nailed that goal, and that’s something to be celebrated!

Not sure how to create a maintenance plan for the holidays! The Transform App can help! Learn more here.

Tip #9. Make self-care a priority.

Like we mentioned, the holiday season can be full of both memory-making times and stressful times, and it might be tempting to skip your self-care routine. Don’t do it! It’s even more important to take care of yourself during stressful times so you can enjoy the holidays and spending time with those you love. Here are some self-care ideas to keep in mind.

  • Get sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours every night.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself.
  • Don’t fall into the holiday comparison trap by looking at all the things others are doing and then thinking you need to do the same things in order to create a magical holiday experience. You don’t.
  • Keep things simple whenever and wherever you can.
  • Avoid contentious environments and people.

Tip #10. Practice mindful eating.

 Holiday eating can be distracted eating. You’re spending time with others and constantly on the go, and it can be easy to get distracted and eat more than you’re realizing. If you find yourself mindlessly eating, try these tips:

  • Put your fork down in between bites.
  • Savor and enjoy every single bite.
  • Don’t graze.
  • Be aware of what you’re actually eating and drinking.
  • Use a smaller plate. Opt for a dessert-sized plate when possible.

Tip #11. Give yourself the gift of grace.

You will “mess up.” We all do it! Please do not view any mess ups as failures because they are not! When you don’t do as well as you’d like to do, you’re giving yourself the gift of learning some new things about yourself that can help you do even better with your transformation goals and throughout your life. So, give yourself some grace, get right back up and start again, and keep going! Any progress, no matter how small it might feel, is progress! #truth

While these tips might feel overwhelming all together, when incorporated into your holidays one by one, they can serve you well during the next few weeks and into the new year. After all, surviving and thriving during the holidays is all about doing your best, tweaking things to work for you and your goals, learning from the times when things don’t go as planned, then using all the knowledge you gain during the holidays throughout the rest of your transformation journey and beyond. You have all the tools you need to make this holiday season the best ever, including making progress on your goals! 

The Transform App can be a powerful tool for helping you survive and thrive during the holiday season! 

Loaded with several different workout programs (including at-home, gym-based, dance, and yoga), over 560 meals customized to you and your goals, important life lessons to help you nail the mental side of lifelong transformation, and a community of like-minded people, The Transform App is your one-stop shop for all things transformation.


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