Things you’ll learn here…
Let’s face it…losing weight over the festive season is probably a losing battle.
Parties galore, filled with excess foods, some alcoholic drinks, and multiple mince pies, make weight loss feel near impossible—but that doesn’t mean it’s a total lost cause.
Of course, if you stick to your weight loss lifestyle, you might manage to drop a few pounds.
But for most people, the holiday season is all about damage control—and making sure you don’t go totally off the rails and gain an enormous amount of weight.
The goal is to minimize weight gain so you’re not back where you started while maintaining your mental and physical health.
The holiday season has become synonymous with indulgence, and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself, feel good—and set yourself up for weight loss success in the New Year.
You just have to weave a few tricks into your festive mix to help keep yourself mostly on track toward your goals—while accepting that there will be some extra indulgence over the holiday season (and that’s totally okay).
Why do people gain weight over the holiday season?
Why do we gain weight over the festive season?
One mince pie quickly becomes two (or more), the festive fizz is flowing, and second helpings are plentiful.
Add in your holiday parties, copious amounts of socialising, and a general lack of motivation to go to the gym—and it’s really not hard to see how those pounds you’ve spent so long shifting can start to creep back on.
Because remember, it’s all about balancing your calorie intake.
Read: How to lose weight without counting calories for tips on how to balance your personal scales this holiday season.
Calories in versus calories out
Ultimately, it all comes down to how many calories you put in your body vs how many you burn (through regular movement and exercise).
Consuming more calories over time will lead to weight gain. But, time is the key component here. Eating over your calories one day will not undo all your hard work—so don’t worry.
But it is why it’s important to not overdo it for weeks on end over the festive season. You can enjoy yourself without overindulging every day.
Firstly, you’ll need to figure out how many calories you can consume per day to maintain your weight. Generally speaking, this is 2500 for men and 2000 for women.
But, this is very much dependent on individuals, so you’ll be best to calculate your own needs using a Total Daily Energy Expenditure to figure out how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis
And remember, don’t worry if you go a little overboard one day. Just get back on it and use these tips to ensure that you manage your weight over the holiday season.
How to balance weight over the festive season
So, this is all very good, but how do you actually manage to not go overboard over the holidays with all the festive treats lying around?
Here are our top tips…
1. Plan your meals
It’s so easy to reach for chocolates or candy when you don’t have your meals ready and planned.
So, avoid the temptation. Plan, buy, and prep meals for the holiday season. Meal prep helps at the best of times, but it’s going to be a lifesaver over the festive period and will make eating a balanced diet much more achievable.
Plus, planning and meal prepping ahead gets you ahead of the curve on the Christmas stress and allows you to avoid the grocery store at peak times.
Planning ahead is a crucial strategy for maintaining a healthy weight during the holiday season.
By anticipating challenges and having a plan in place, you can make mindful choices and avoid impulsive overeating.
2. Eat well and within calories (when you can)
We’re not suggesting that you sit and track your Christmas meal calories. It’s probably worth accepting that you will go a little over your allowance, and there’s no point in worrying about it.
But, outside of the big day, try and stick to your normal diet as much as possible. And when you are eating, pack your meals with nutrient-dense, healthy food that will help keep you full for longer. Prioritise whole grains, vegetables, meats and whole foods—rather than processed foods.
It’s easy to write off the entire season, but there is no need to let it all go. That’s why planning your meals as suggested above can help, as you’ll know the days that you are going to splash out and the days that things will be more normal.
3. Keep moving
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and overall wellbeing. During the holiday season, it can be tempting to skip workouts and prioritise other obligations. But, finding ways to stay active and get the blood pumping is crucial for managing your weight and reducing stress.
You might not feel like going to the gym between Christmas and New Year—-but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep moving. Try to move once every day, even if it’s ice skating, sledging, dancing at a holiday party, or a banter-filled family walk.
You don’t have to hit the gym with high-intensity cardio every day. But moving will help that TDEE we talked about earlier and will increase the number of calories you can eat before you gain weight.
P.S. That doesn’t mean you can overindulge every day and go for a walk. But it does allow you to better maintain your weight.
Prioritise consistency over intensity. It's better to engage in moderate exercise regularly than to push yourself too hard and risk burnout or injury.
Staying hydrated is important year-round, and the holiday season is no exception. Proper hydration supports your body's functions, helps control appetite, and can prevent overeating.
Try drinking plenty of water throughout the day (around eight glasses daily) and opt for water, herbal tea or infused water instead of sugary drinks or coffee if you can.
Also, be mindful of alcohol consumption, as it can dehydrate you and fuel your appetite, making you eat more.
You can support your weight management efforts and overall wellbeing by prioritising hydration and choosing hydrating foods and beverages.
5. Portion control
Even if you are indulging in food that is less than ideal when it comes to your weight management journey—you should try to control the portions you consume.
By being mindful of your portion sizes and making balanced choices, you can enjoy your favourite holiday foods without overdoing it.
You can use smaller plates and bowls, which can help you visually control your portion sizes and prevent overeating. And by filling those plates or bowls up with nutrient-dense foods, you’ll keep fuller for longer.
6. Manage holiday stress
Stress can be a significant factor in weight gain during the holiday season so it’s a good idea to try and manage it (for your overall health and weight).
High stress levels can lead to emotional eating, cravings for unhealthy foods—and disruption in your regular exercise routine. To maintain a healthy weight, it's essential to prioritise self-care and manage holiday stress effectively.
Take some time out for yourself over the holiday season, and engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, like meditation, yoga or taking a bath.
You should also try to get enough sleep—a quality eight hours each night will help support your overall wellbeing, reduce stress and stop you from reaching for unhealthy snacks.
You can also practise stress-management techniques. Deep breathing exercises, journaling, and spending time in nature can help reduce stress levels.
7. Keep Track of your progress
You can’t change what you can’t track.
While we’re not suggesting you weigh yourself right after Christmas dinner (spoiler alert: you will gain weight), we do recommend that you monitor your weight over the holiday season if you want to manage it.
Remember. Your weight will naturally fluctuate, so don’t panic if and when the scales change. But it is a good idea to be aware of where you are in order to maintain a healthy weight and stay accountable to your goals.
Just don’t obsess over your number.
Remember, one bad day is not bad
I’ll start on Monday.
We’ve all said it, and over the holiday period, it can be even more tempting to just write everything off until New Year. But one bad day does not mean that you can’t make any progress, or at least maintain your progress.
So, remember, one bad day does not mean you are bad and that you aren’t going to reach your health and fitness goals.
So, how do you manage your weight over the festive season?
Even if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, you want to be able to enjoy some festive treats and indulge with your friends and family over the Christmas break.
And don’t worry, your generally healthy habits will not be ruined if you enjoy the Christmas period. You can have a few mince pies, sip some mulled wine, and have fun over the party season without derailing your weight loss efforts.
But, you do have to put a few small healthy habits in place to make sure that you don’t go overboard every day of the week.
If you want help to hit your goals and reduce your appetite over the festive season, you can use our PhenQ diet supplement to boost your metabolism and stop yourself from overindulging. Merry Christmas.