Feel Good Fitness Tips

Navigating the Holidays without Sabotaging your Goals

Do you try to exercise regularly and eat healthy most of the year? Then bam! The holidays arrive. Where did the year go?

Have you ever noticed all the holiday festivities seem to center around food? In response, many people tend to handle all this holiday food in one of two ways.

  1. They sacrifice all the holiday fun in favor of sticking to their diet and end up feeling left out


  1. Throw their goals out the window and end up frustrated because they did not make any progress on their fitness goals or worse, gained weight over the holidays.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can enjoy the holiday festivities AND still achieve your goals! Here’s our top 10 tips for enjoying the holidays WITHOUT giving up on your health and fitness goals!

Don’t Skip Meals

It might be tempting to skip meals to save “stomach space” for that holiday party later. While you might feel like you are saving calories (or macros or whatever you count) for later, you’re actually setting yourself up to overeat – and probably on less healthy options.

We recommend eating a healthy breakfast filled with protein like our IdealRaw Organic Protein shake, so when it comes to the party, you won’t arrive hungry and ready to eat everything in sight. This will allow you to make better food choices throughout the party.

Keep Exercising!

It may seem like a no brainer but the holiday season can get super busy and it can be really easy (and tempting!) to forgo your daily workout during this time of the year. Mark your workout on your daily schedule like you would any other commitment, and then stick to it!

We recommend doing a mix of strength training and cardio to really increase your calorie burn throughout the day (even when you’re not working out!).

Want a little circuit to try that will help you maximize your calorie burn while taking a minimum amount of time? Grab a chair and try out this awesome full body circuit:

  • 10 Step-ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 10 Squats
  • 10 Tricep Dips
  • 20 Jumping Jacks
  • 30 Second Plank

Time yourself and see how fast you can get in 3-4 rounds!

Keep exercising

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is important for keeping your hunger in control. Often, we  can confuse the feeling of hunger for thirst. When you are drinking enough water, it makes it harder to overeat.

So how much water should you be drinking? People often say you should be drinking at least half your weight in ounces of water every day. For example, 140lb person would need 70 ounces of water per day.

When you stay properly hydrated, you’ll notice that you have more energy and you’ll be able to manage your cravings much easier.

Drink water

Watch Out for Sneaky Calories 

It can be all too easy to consume a whole tray of appetizers one small bite at a time (often by accident!) or add an extra 500-1000 calories worth of sauce, gravy or dip to your food without even realizing you’ve done so. The average serving of dip for instance is only 1 tablespoon – who eats just one tablespoon??

But that doesn’t mean you need to stay away from the appetizers or sauces altogether. Fill your plate with vegetables, fruit and other healthier choices. If you’re hitting the salad bar, aim for vinaigrettes or over richer, creamy style dressings. If you really want to enjoy that gravy or ranch dip, have it on the side and/or in a smaller amount. (see tip #6)

As a side note: just because it’s “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s a healthy or low calorie option. French fries, potato chips and many candies are all vegan but are obviously not healthier choices.

Avoid extra calories at thanksgiving

Don’t Drink your Calories

Speaking of sneaky calories – don’t forget that you can easily drink a full day’s worth of calories in that fancy peppermint mocha frappe you had for breakfast, eggnog at work or the champagne at the party.

Not only this but drinking too much alcohol can increase your cravings for salty, fatty foods causing many to eat 30 percent more than intended. (1) Drinking too much alcohol at dinner can also impair your better judgement by the time dessert comes along. At the end of the day, we recommend getting your calories from actual food!

Alcohol contains a lot of calories

Mindful Portion Control

The average plate size is about 14 inches big and we usually finish about 92% of the food on our plate. (2) No wonder it can be so easy to overeat! This can be especially easy when we’re eating with others who eat more than we do or we are talking while we eat which can distract us from how much we’re actually eating.

To avoid overeating, avoid eating straight from the bag/bowl or hanging out by the food table. Trick your brain into thinking you’ve had enough by using a smaller plate (like the smaller dessert plates) and fill half with salad, fresh fruit or vegetables. (Just remember to be mindful of the salad dressing! (See tip #4) As a general rule of thumb, for pre-cut desserts like cakes, pies and other desserts, cut the portion in half or share with a friend.

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Most parties and holiday gatherings have other activities in addition to the meal. So as soon as you’re done eating, start a game, watch some football, join the dancing or just socialize.

Whatever you do, don’t hang out by the food area! The further you can stay away from it after eating, the better! That will help keep you from grazing at the table and mindlessly snacking.

Bring your Own Dish to the Party

Holiday parties can be a war zone of hidden calories. Take the guesswork out by bringing a dish that you know is healthy and you’ll enjoy. Bringing your own dish to share will make it so much easier to not give in to all the other possible unhealthy options.

Bring your own salad

Create Accountability

Accountability is HUGE! Being able to hold people and have people also hold you accountable for your goals will help you both achieve your goals. The support from those you care about can go a long way in helping you make good decisions that would put you on the fast track to weight loss success.

It’s always a good idea to establish some accountability. If you are going to the party with a friend or spouse, let them in on your goal for the night and have them help you out!

It could be as simple as, “Hey, if you see me going back for seconds on desserts, remind me not to!” or, “I don’t want to drink my calories tonight, so I’m going to drink water. Help remind me!” Just don’t be mad at them when they do help you out!

Also, want to join a community of people in your exact same situation, make even more friends, and help build even more accountability? Join IdealRaw’s FREE Private Facebook group! It’s the perfect place to connect with others, share tips, tricks, struggles, and strengthen each other!

Enjoy Yourself 

One of the wonderful things about the holidays is the traditions and memories. So if you want your Aunt’s famous apple pie or your mother’s fudge, then go ahead and indulge. Just be mindful of the portions (see tip #6) and eat slowly so you can truly savor it!

It’s all about consistency so one “bad night” isn’t going to completely destroy your efforts. But above all else, don’t forget to enjoy the season with your family and friends. As delicious and fun as these holiday parties are, nothing is more important than people we celebrate with!



  1. Yeomans, M. (2010). Short term effects of alcohol on appetite in humans. Effects of context and restrained eating. Appetite, 55(3), 565-573.
  2. Wansink, B., Johnson, K. The clean plate club: about 92% of self-served food is eaten. Int J Obes 39, 371–374 (2015) doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.104

Amy Huber

Amy Huber

Writer and expert

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