November 23rd, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Staying focused on your goals during the holiday season

By Jillian Michaels
Guest blogger

The holiday season is upon us and this time EVERY year I write diet, fitness, and motivation tips about how to not gain weight and let your health spiral out of control. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before so honestly why the heck am I writing about this again?! Did no one listen the last 10 years?

You are not stupid. You know how to be healthy. Eat less and move more. It doesn’t take much to know that a second helping of stuffing and pumpkin pie and yams and biscuits is a bad idea.

You know all the obvious stuff… Eat white meat turkey, not dark. Do whole grain rolls instead of biscuits. Bring fitness DVDs with you if you are traveling so you can workout on the road. Create fun family fitness activities to do together such as touch football instead of sitting around eating or watching TV. And the list goes on…

Let’s get down to the bottom of it. The holidays are a time to be grateful. Grateful for the blessings you have and the ability to create new blessings symbolized by the coming of a new year. However, at a time when we should be celebrating our lives most, we are prone to depression and dysfunction. Eating becomes gluttonous. Family issues become magnified. The gym becomes a distant memory. Stress levels go through the roof and so on.

So how do we create that shift in our thinking, behavior, and overall holiday experience? Desire. The first step is to stay focused in the present tense on the things you want for yourself and in your life. Transformation doesn’t happen in the past or in the future. It happens right now. By focusing on the positive things you crave and deserve, you shift your focus from one of resignation to one of inspiration.

Start by picking a goal. Maybe the one you have been saving for January 1 and begin pursuing it immediately. Every day this season, I want you to wake up and think about that goal and how the actions you take throughout your day will bring you closer to that goal. If holiday parties create temptation for you, avoid them. Find a healthier way to celebrate with your friends like a night on the town dancing. If stressful family reunions throw you off track, set boundaries or stay away. Take a healthy vacation with close friends instead. If the memories of holiday seasons past cause you to feel lonely, channel those feelings constructively instead of destructively. Take them as a sign that it’s time to form new connections. Join a club, support group, or online community where you meet new people and make new friends. And with every decision you make ask yourself this question – “is my choice or behavior in this moment getting me closer to my goals?” If the answer is no, make a different choice.

Some of you are thinking “it’s not that simple. I have to go to my office party. I have to go to my grandmother’s house for dinner where she guilts me into eating thousands of calories. I have to let my in-laws stay with us even though they insult me.” Do you? Do you physically have to? Are you being held at gunpoint to engage in behaviors that upset or hurt you in some way? I bet 99 percent of the time the answer to that question will be no. So stop wasting time and start putting your health first, physically and emotionally. Let’s redefine the holidays as a time of inspiration and possibility one empowered person at a time. And remember, taking care of oneself is a gift to everyone else because everyone ends up having a happier and healthier holiday.

How will you maintain your health goals during the holidays?

Jillian Michaels is a fitness expert and trainer on the TV reality show "The Biggest Loser".

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Shalin Patel

    The Holidays are my favorite time of the year. I want to enjoy my food, so I actually am not very strict with my diet. Of course, I work out often to help with the eating. And I plan on getting back on the diet when the New Year rolls around.

    November 24, 2009 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. CA Dover, NH

    I've been working hard at watching my diet closely for the past four months and it's paying off. 35 pounds lost to date, and I'm in a doable routine that I can keep up because I'm paying attention to my way of eating rather than just "going on a diet." But I have to admit, it's very, very hard this time of year. I work for a non-profit that has donated food here every day, and it's the rich stuff! Add that to time spent with relatives who insist that all the food that's served must be eaten (or else you are considered extremely rude to your hostess) and it makes navigating the holidays about as simple as an Olympic ski run!
    My plan: set my menu each day for the following day, use a scale to measure weight, not "guess," and go into our receptionist's office no more than once per day!

    November 24, 2009 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. yep

    Totally agree. Putting health first is really difficult... esp. during the holidays.

    Having ideas like these help me set strong goals (and keep my family from driving me crazy!).

    good luck to everyone this holiday season!

    November 24, 2009 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. GF, Los Angeles

    My plan for the holidays is to eat small portions of everything to not offend the host. I will only have dessert once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas – again very small portion. Company and department holiday parties will be tempting but I will not eat dessert and will stick with chicken and vegetable dishes. Since I have 4 day weekends during both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will still go to the gym those 4 days and increase my level of difficulty during cardio work outs to ensure that I don't gain any weight. I will bypass the cookies, muffins, candy etc. that will come into the office (they're there almost year round anyway so this isn't any different just because it's the holidays to feel it's ok to "splurge"). I keep in mind if what I'm eating has any nutritional value and if it doesn't – how long would I have to exercise to burn it off and would it be worth it.

    November 25, 2009 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Terri

    It's all about the lifestyle– NEVER a 'diet'. Eat 'clean', learn what a 'real' portion is, adjust to feeling 'satisfied' and not 'full',find the type of exercise you can stick to ( this may take some trial and error) and vow to never starve yourself or attempt crazy 'quick fix' plans again!! Change slowly ( cut out half your sugar consumption this week, another 1/4th next week; add 10 minutes of cardio in the month of December, etc. ) and those changes will stick. I'm 51, 5'6", 120 fit pounds, I take no medications or supplements and have never felt better. I still enjoy my weekend cocktails, occasional dinners out.etc.
    If you live the lifestyle, then it can be done!!

    November 25, 2009 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mollyb

    It's all about portion control and getting some exercise. Walking is the best exercise and overall toner for me. My stomach is tighter, my legs and butt are more toned and I simply feel better. I read another post on Prevention about exercise insoles that fit into sneakers and shoes that help increase circulation and burn calories. I wear them everywhere I go. They're really comfortable, and I felt the difference in my legs and butt almost immediately.

    I'm always looking for ways to enhance weight loss and who doesn't want to burn more calories while just walking? They're called Smartsole exercise insoles. I saw a discount code MB10 for 10% off on a coupon board.

    November 25, 2009 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. gerib

    All of those are important – desire, picking a goal and staying focused. But staying focused on a goal – anytime, but especially at holiday time – is hard. Finding a diet or exercise buddy can help to maintain focus or there are online services that can help, like motivationtogo.net, to help people choose a healthier living goal and get reminded of it. It can make a big difference to get some kind of support – family, friends or technology – to help stick with goals when the going gets tough.

    November 26, 2009 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Osagie

    Holiday is a resting period, a period when one needs to balance the equations of one's life.

    November 27, 2009 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jess

    Great blog, Jillian! You are right about people knowing what they need to do...it's just a matter of doing it. This is true of every area in our lives.

    November 29, 2009 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Melissa

    Yes I must say it is soo easy to fall back into old habits. I used to weight 230lb. I have lost more than 80lb and have keep it off for over 2 years. I bought a pecan pie knowing I would be the only one eating it. Last night I said to my husband I was just going to throw it away. I have worked too hard to blow it. So in the trash it went. Stop saying "I'll start tomorrow". Make small changes. A lot of small changes start to add up. Exercise to the extent you can. You have to start somewhere, 5 minutes of something is way better than 5 minutes of nothing. Doctors need to start encouaging patients to start small and build on that. I think far to many throw out the 30 min. of exercise a day talk and many leave defeated before they have a chance to start because the feel they can't do 30 min. I started doing Tae Bo. I could only do 15 minutes of it and the first 10 minutes was stretching. I just kept building on that. I started running. Now I am 2 weeks away from running my first 1/2 marathon. I know if I can do it anyone can. I know that some of you reading this are in the same shoes I was in. I hope this help you. I will say a little prayer for you today. God has given me so much strenght and I know he can to the same for you.

    November 29, 2009 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kelly

    Great blog Jillian! Im sixteen, 5' 6" and weigh 200 Ibs. Hard to admit it but its the truth. About 2 years ago i started weight watchers and loved it. It was really working. My mom and sister did it too. I was on it for about 3 months and i lost 25 pounds. I could do so many things better, run, play softball (which i love), and i was able to fit in some really cute clothes. I was happy. Now im starting to realize that i need to do that same change. I gained it all back and a little more. Im not happy now in my life. I always kept sayin "oh tomorrow i will do it!" but it never came. I was always in denial too. So thats why I wanna go on weight watcher again, and fit into that perfect prom dress. I dont wanna live such and unhappy life anymore. So thats why tomorrow has come today!
    *Leave comments* I need motivation too.
    Peace and Blessings

    November 30, 2009 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Robin

    And our children will be thankful for all we can do to make family fitness around the holidays extra exciting. Since my number one reason to continue staying fit is my son, it's a whole lot easier skiing, ice skating or walking over the holidays with that kind of an incentive. We need to be get that extra spark of energy by eating and playing over the holidays with the entire family if it's possible. And anything is possible once you give it a try. Happy Holidays

    November 30, 2009 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. GF, Los Angeles

    @ Kelly the motivation to work out consistently and eat healthy must come from you. I've had co-workers ask me to help keep them stay motivated with going to the gym since they see that I go every day and they wanted to lose weight. After a month of them going consistently, they completely lost any motivation and I eventually became an annoyance with my encouragement. There was always an excuse as to why they didn't want to go that day. I finally quit saying anything altogther. The excuses were never ending – I don't work out on Mondays – I'm too tired – I'm too sore – it's too dark outside (because of time change). They changed back to their old eating habits with buying fast food for lunch because of the convenience. If you're committed to becoming healthy and exercising along with eating properly, the weight loss will follow. I personally don't believe in diet programs because once you get off of it, the weight comes back. Your motivation should be your health and not to just fit into cute clothes.

    December 1, 2009 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Reading your post Kelly made me very sad. You're way too young to be a prisoner of your body weighing as much as you do. I agree with GF the motivation must come from you to create a lifestyle to be healthy – that's truly what is important. The weight loss and maintenance of that loss is the result of healthy living.

    Big congrats to Melissa for the weight loss and keeping it off for 2 years. I personally don't believe in the all or nothing mindset. I love potato chips and will sometimes indulge in a bag of baked chips over a course of a month. If I avoided chips altogether I'd become an obsessed wreck. It's all about balance and eating more good then bad. I really wish you would've indulged in a small slice of the pie before throwing it away 🙂

    December 3, 2009 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Melissa

    I did have a piece of the pecan pie. Im not an all or nothing person either. I just didnt need it sitting around to tempt me so I threw the rest away. I dont think anyone need to deprive themselves of something. Just need to keep it in check

    December 3, 2009 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Deja'

    Someone just needs to write the magic words "Common Sense" and be done with it. Live in moderation in everything you do, including food especially when it comes to the holidays, and everything else will fall into place. Happy Holidays!

    December 4, 2009 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. hoday supermarket

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog glance easy. The total glance of your web site is great, as smartly as the content material!

    May 17, 2012 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Nedra Hodak

    Physical fitness has been defined as a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.The above definition from Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General is the most common currently used definition of physical fitness. :;^`

    Till next time

    June 20, 2013 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply

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