We are heading into the Memorial Day weekend, one of many holidays throughout the year that can throw you for a loop and cause you to lose all motivation for sticking to a healthy diet and exercise program.

Do you have plans for the weekend? Do they involve healthy, fun activities? Or instead, do they involve a lot of partying and junk food?

Holidays can be rough because they can stir up so many memories of how you used to, or have “traditionally” celebrated with your family and/or friends.

If you have always celebrated Memorial Day with a family picnic which includes a traditional potato salad with processed mayonnaise, baked beans with brown sugar, and fried chicken, or you usually BBQ with friends and neighbors and include beer, chips, and dip, how do you get through this and maintain your weight loss and healthy eating momentum while also having fun?

Here are 5 tips that I can give you (they’ve worked for me!) to enjoy the holiday while still maintaining your motivation and the integrity of your weight loss and fitness goals:

1. Focus on the people and the fun. There is such an emphasis in our world’s society to focus on food in celebrations. It is so deeply ingrained that I am not suggesting that this can be changed in the world at large, however you do have control over your own viewpoint of a holiday celebration.

Instead of focusing on what is going to be served at the gathering, focus on socializing and catching up with your friends and family instead. What are the activities that are taking place? Are you playing a team sport together, going for a group walk, or sitting and visiting? Whatever is taking place, I encourage you to get your mind off of the food and instead focus on contributing to the conversation, or getting into the activities.

2. Remember why you want to lose weight in the first place. If you haven’t clearly defined your goals and your motivation to lose weight yet, the time to do so is before the holiday celebration. Define them, redefine them, and write them down on a 3×5 card. Take this card with you and read it if you find yourself thinking of excuses to eat those deserts “just this one time”.

In my experience, there isn’t “just this once” or “only one” when it comes to processed food. If you are like this and you feel tempted to indulge, walk away from the buffet table with a bottle of water and go read your card. Then opt for some healthy foods to eat (if you are hungry, of course 😉 ).

3. This is only one of many holidays throughout the year. There are so many different holidays during the year that if you used every one of them for an excuse to go all out and eat whatever you wanted, then you would likely have a hard time ever getting to your goal weight.

This is coming from the perspective of someone (me! 🙂 ) who doesn’t have the ability to moderate when eating sugared, salted, fatted, processed foods. Since most processed foods contain sugar, salt, and unhealthy fat of some kind, and you will most often find these foods served at a holiday gathering, if I eat this food I will end up going home and pretty much be back at square one.

If I do this on every holiday celebration, it will only serve to sabotage my weight loss and fitness goals. Once I start eating unhealthy foods I want more and I continue to eat them, regardless of hunger. I end up with absolutely no motivation to stop eating them and my motivation to exercise is non-existent.

Now, if you can eat in moderation, eat only when hungry, and stop when you are full, no matter what types of food that you eat, then you probably wouldn’t still be reading this, correct? 😉 So I recommend remembering that this holiday is about celebrating the relationships with friends and family, the fun times and wonderful memories that you can create, and the new memories that you can create.

4. Go for the healthy food option. If you are the one in charge of the celebration, this will be very easy because you can ensure that you have healthy, whole food options on the table. If you are instead the guest, you can take a small cooler or soft-sided lunch pack cooler with you with some healthy foods in case you don’t find any non-processed food served at the gathering.

If it’s a gathering where everyone is contributing a dish, then you can certainly bring something that you would choose to eat, but would also appeal to others. Maybe a vegetable dish that includes dip that you wouldn’t eat, but you know that others would want.

It’s all about being prepared, and if you go to the gathering assuming that there will be some healthy options for you to eat, are you in essence making an excuse for yourself to fail? Do you already know in the back of your mind what is likely to be served, and if you don’t take some healthy options with you, then you will just “have” to eat what’s there?

Yes, I know exactly how this works 😉 , I’ve done it myself. This is a good way to sabotage yourself though, and if you do have problems with food addiction, then you are leading yourself down a path of self-sabotage and overeating.

5. Don’t worry about what other people think. This can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome during a holiday celebration, especially if you are seeing people that you don’t get to see on a regular basis, people who are used to you being “a certain way”.

If you would normally indulge in the food served at a holiday gathering, you might draw some attention if you abstain this time, and especially if you bring your own healthy options to fall back on. I’ve found that it’s best to not go into too much detail, but just say that you are making some healthy changes and avoiding certain ingredients at this time.

What is most likely to occur though, is that no one will even notice what you are doing, because in general, most people are more concerned with what they are doing (and how they appear to you!) than with what anyone else is doing.

Must a holiday derail your weight loss and fitness plan? Do you have to lose all momentum, excitement, and motivation for your weight loss goals because of a holiday? Do you need to avoid the celebration in order to stay on track with your own goals? The answer to all of these questions is NO.

With a little preparation, some new thinking and focusing on your loved ones instead of the food, you can have a wonderful time and still stick with your new, healthy lifestyle while continuing to lose weight. Enjoy! 😀

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