When you've worked hard to reach a weight loss milestone, the holidays can seem like an obstacle course of personal sabotage, not rewarding time off spent with family and friends.
Fear not: With a plan in hand and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can sail through the festive season with barely a nudge on the scale and set yourself up for more success in the new year.
#1 Keep a Food Journal
You've heard it before; this time don't ignore the advice. Keeping a food and exercise log is one of the most effective ways to control your weight, whether you're trying to lose weight, gain weight or just maintain.
Counting calories in your head doesn't work, especially since our ability to deny, protect and rationalize allows us to "forget" things like that Cinnabon we ate at the mall food court.
Keeping a journal is easier than ever in this digital age. There are a variety of smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, LiveStrong's MyPlate, and Lose It!. Take a look at each platform and decide which interface makes most sense to you.
No matter which one you choose, the key is consistency. The best way to be consistent is to log after every meal, not just once a day. The archive of foods available on each app is expansive; chances are what you've just eaten is on there, or you can scan the barcode yourself. The other trick with online food journals is to be realistic about portion sizes. If you had 2 cups of pasta, don't log 1 cup because it's the default setting. Those caloric differences add up.
By logging your daily activity on the app, you can see just how little—or how much—wiggle room you have with your diet for those holiday splurges.
#2 Wear an Activity Tracker
Wearable tech gadgets like Fitbit and Garmin VivoFit are fantastic ways to keep track of your daily activity. Think you walk 10,000 steps a day? You might be surprised at just how hard it is.
Seeing your daily step total slowly tick up throughout the day can motivate you to walk around more at work and throughout your daily life.
The sleep tracker, a feature on most activity devices, can help you with your weight loss goal as well. The holidays are hard; there's so much to get done and so many places to be. The quality and quantity of sleep can be the first to go.
If you get less than six hours of sleep a night for a few days in a row, your body will start to crave calorie-rich foods to keep your energy levels up. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night and your ability to stick to a healthy diet will be much easier.
Don't get up and run at 4:30 a.m. if it means you'll only get four hours of sleep.