How to survive the Holidays?!


Gosh.. can you even believe it’s here already?! The holiday season has arrived and with it comes much joy, family visit, gathering with friends, more commitments than we can possibly fit in, sprinkled with a healthy dose of stress 😀

It might feel impossible to avoid skipping workouts, eating a little much of this and little not enough of that, gaining weight, weakening our immune system and landing on January 1st with a momentous hangover, a cold and a higher than average credit card bill. Triple ouch!

Through out the years, I have learned to practice some habits to “survive” the season. Here you will find a combination of my own tips with some of the best tips I have come across.

Be warned: my tips are NOT about you avoiding all the good stuff that comes with the Holidays. The very opposite! I am a believer of you enjoying life special moments and the foods that comes with it. I also believe that you need to have strategies that work during the most chaotic days in your life, not only during the “perfect ones”. After all, how many perfect “perfect days” do you have? I know I don’t have too many…

#1 Eat slowly and stop before you are full

This strategy helps you avoid overeating for two main reasons:

  • Physiological
    It takes 15-20 min for your digestive system to let your brain know that you’re satisfied. Slowing down a meal allows that to happen before you overeat.
  • Psychological
    When you slow down, “sense into”, and savour your food, you feel content with much less. This means you’ll eat less but enjoy what you’ve eaten more.
    Indeed, when eating slowly (and stopping at “satisfied” instead of “stuffed”) you can try all the delicious foods on Grandma’s buffet without guilt or needing to “work it off later”.

Bonus tip:

  • Pack left overs
    I find that almost any host (specially family) usually offer and are more than happy to have you taking left overs with you. That will help you releasing the desire to “eat it all because I wont eat it again” as you can already know, you can have a little more tomorrow.

#2 Stay active

Here comes a behaviour pattern that happens to many of us (sure was my #1 hurdle before I truly made exercise a lifestyle), people that want to get/stay fit exercise consistently for many months, only to get derailed by the holidays (or a vacation, or a special occasion, or…) and “fall of the wagon” for longer than they “planned”.

An important strategy here is to remember that something is better than nothing. A short workout is WAY better than no workout. Have a “go to” workout that you can do anywhere, anytime. Remember that you can include the family by going to a fun physical activity together!

Here’s a great infographic on “How to stay in shape when you are busy” by Precision Nutrition with a quick workout that you can do anywhere.

Here’s one of my “go to” short workout video. 10 min fat burning circuit

Now, remember its 80% NUTRITION and only 20% Fitness. If you don’t workout but you stay on track with the nutritional habits, you will be fine. The workout does help you to be able to it a little more tho 😀

# 3 Plan to eat well on the go

Busy times, busy life. Most of us go “none stop” from one place to another without much time to think in between. From the grocery store, to the mall, to a party, to pick up someone, to another party… Not to mention if you are travelling from place to place.

Planning is KEY. I always think of the quote:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (Jim Rohn)

My philosophy here is that I want to save up my extra calories for the really yummy stuff! I don’t need to “waste calories” eating anything just because I am hungry and unprepared.

For me, my Herbalife shake is life saving! That’s what I have with me every where (specially at airports!) so I never have any excuse to skip a meal or eat poorly. I also carry with me extra Herbalife protein bars so I can always snack on something quick and easy.

Here’s another great infographic by Precision Nutrition with “25 ways to eat well on the go

#4 Have a shake!

A high quality shake is a nutrient-packed, delicious, liquid meal that is convenient and quick to make. At home or on the go, while you shop or while you help the kids to build a snow man you can drink your shake!

One of the KEY tips I’ve been sharing with my customers for years is to AVOID the hunger point. When you go hungry, it’s almost a sure thing that you will over eat. Considering that during the holidays you don’t always have time to plan all your meals, a shake is one of the best solutions you can find for quick and easy high quality nutrition.

As you know, my choice of Shake is the Herbalife Formula 1 meal replacement shake mix. It’s the ONE thing I have been doing CONSISTENTLY for almost 15 years! Here’s a handy  “Beginners guide to protein shakes

Do you want to try our shakes? Did you know we offer a “3 day trial pack”? You can order it easily here.

#5 Don’t count calories. Visualize them

It can seem impossible to go through all the delicious food available during the Holidays (and some of them ONLY during the Holidays) without overeating but it is possible if you

  1. Eat slowly
  2. Pay attention to portions

You don’t need to count calories, you just need to know, visually, what’s the ideal portion for you on each of the foods you are choosing to have. That’s why the “hand measure” is very practical and easy to use. Here’s the “portion control guide” for you.

You don’t need to avoid holiday treats entirely, but save your calories for the special items that you only eat once a year. And steer clear of the ‘everyday’ treats that you could eat any time. Remember what I said before, don’t waste precious calories “just because” 😉

Also, I practice not going to the dinner / party hungry. Have a a shake or a small protein snack about an hour before you go. If you are not hungry/starving, you will be able to choose your foods more wisely and eat just enough to satisfy your desires, without overeating.

#6 Watch your alcohol calories.

Yes, ’tis the season to enjoy and be Merry. 😉 still, moderation is a good thing to practice when it comes to alcohol. Try alternating an alcoholic beverage with a calorie-free beverage to reduce your overall intake. If you don’t feel sociable without a drink in your hand, a glass of sparkling mineral water with a slice of lime or lemon will do the trick.


#7 Do NOT… I will repeat DO NOT… SKIP meals!

One of the mindset that many will have is “I won’t eat now so I can eat later”. That wont work well for you! Remember all the tips above about “not going hungry”?

If you skip meals (by being busy or by wanting to save up on calories) you will overeat. At the end of the day, you will end up eating more calories in that one meal than you would have if you distributed your calories during the day and practiced the previous tips.

So there’s you have it.. these are the habits I have personally been practicing for many many years and I can tell you that they sure do work for me. I LOVE food. Truly do! If you know me even just a little, you will also know that I don’t work well with restrictions. I want what I want 🙂 so I know it’s possible to enjoy the season and still stay truth to your commitments for your health and well being. There’s much more that we could talk about in here but I will save it for another time.

As you see, I’ve made reference to many resources from Precision Nutrition and took some of the inspiration for the tips from their main article. I am a certified coach with Precision nutrition as pretty much everything they advocate for, are much of the same philosophies I have already been coaching my customers with. Habits based coaching with focus on balanced nutrition.

One more article worth mentioning is on how to “Manage Holiday Stress in the Name of Beauty“.

If you are looking for a coach to hold you accountable during the Holidays or to get you started in the new year. Let’s schedule a initial coaching call for you where we can talk about your goals and strategies to help you get there.

and remember that we have “One more challenge” before the year is over. Our challenge starts Nov. 27th and will go until Dec. 21st, EXACTLY to help you survive the Holidays like a champ!

Wishing you the best in health, Coach Deb.


Before I let you go… I want to share this “little list with you”. You can’t tell I didn’t warn you 😉

Calories in Typical Holiday Party Food

Serving sizes and preparation techniques will vary, of course, so it’s difficult to place an exact calorie count on the items you might find at a holiday party. I used online information from several restaurant chains to come up with a range of calories—per order—for these typical appetizers.

Stuffed Mushrooms:
4 stuffed mushrooms = 550-700 calories

Gingerbread Cookies:
2 cookies = 300-400 calories

Swedish Meatballs:
4 meatballs = 300-400 calories

Spinach Dip with Tortilla or Pita chips:
8 sticks with sauce = 800–1,100 calories

Fried Calamari with Cocktail Sauce:
1 average order = 750-900 calories

Fried Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara Sauce:
8 sticks with sauce = 800-1,00 calories

Fried Zucchini:
8–12 pieces = 400–600 calories

Sliders (mini hamburgers):
2 sliders = 600 –1,000 calories

Calories in Beer, Wine and Hard Liquor
Beer: 12 oz (24 0ml) = 150 calories
Light Beer: 12 oz (240 ml) = 110 calories
Dark Beer: 12 oz (240 ml) = 170 calories
Wine (red, white): 6 oz (180 ml) = 120 calories
Hard Liquor – 80 proof: 1 shot (1.5 oz, 45 ml) = 100 calories
Hard Liquor – 100 proof: 1 shot (1.5 oz, 45 ml) = 125 calories

Calories in Mixers
Cranberry juice: 8 oz (240 ml) = 160 calories
Cream: 2 tbsp (30 ml) = 75 calories
Coffee, club soda, plain seltzer, diet soda: any amount = 0 calories
Orange juice: 8 oz (240 ml) = 120 calories
Soda (cola, ginger ale, tonic, etc.): 8 oz (240 ml) = 100 calories
Tomato juice: 8 oz (240 ml) = 60 calories

Calories in Mixed Drinks
Not all bars and restaurants pour the same size cocktail or use the exact same ingredients, but these calorie values represent typical drinks.

Bloody Mary: 10 oz (300 ml) = 180 calories
Cosmopolitan: 4 oz (120 ml) = 215 calories
Gin and tonic: 8 oz (240 ml) = 215 calories
Long Island Iced Tea: 8 oz (240 ml) = 800 calories
Mai tai: 8 oz (240 ml) = 600 calories
Manhattan: 3 oz (90 ml) = 200 calories
Margarita: 8 oz (240 ml) = 700 calories
Martini: 3 oz (90 ml) = 180 calories
Mojito: 6 oz (180 ml) = 160 calories
Mudslide: 12 oz (360 ml) = 820 calories
Piña Colada: 6 oz (180 ml) = 600 calories
White Russian: 5 oz (150 ml) = 425 calories