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How To Succeed In Fitness During The Holidays: Q&A Part 1

Kim: Welcome to episode 79 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. On today’s episode, I’m going to be fielding questions from my Instagram stories. I asked people to let me know what kind of support they needed during this holiday season.
[00:00:23] Not only is it the holiday season, but it’s a really strange holiday season, what with lockdowns and closures and things due to COVID. So that’s what I’m going to be doing today. I’m going to be tackling holiday support questions.
[00:00:35] Now I hope I can make it through at least a couple of questions. I’m several weeks into recovering from pneumonia. I’ve set things up as best I can to be able to speak well. The trickiest part for me right now is speaking is hard. It gets me out of breath really fast and my voice changes from normal to not even able to be understood rather quickly. So that’s why I picked questions because it might be one question, it might be five questions, we’re just gonna kind of go with it and see how far I can get and give you a little bit of help as we navigate this kind of different holiday season. Let’s go.
[00:01:10] So our first question today comes from Paula. Paula’s question: “how do you say no to treats when they make them just for you?”
[00:01:19] Okay, for starters, you always say, thank you. “Thank you so much for thinking of me.” Then say something nice about whatever it is they made for you. Make sure it is sincere. People can tell if you’re not being sincere. You know, “This smells amazing” or “Wow! Look at the detail!” Doesn’t mean you have to eat it if you do not want to.
[00:01:40] Now, if it is literally something that they personally made for you to take home, you can just take it. They don’t need to know that you don’t plan on eating it. If it’s not a food that is going to be worth it, you know, I put that in quotes there — air quotes — if it’s not going to be worth it to you, because gosh, we gotta work with nutritional compromises. You can eat anything when you’re trying to lose weight, you just can’t have it all and you have to work in compromises. What’s important to you? What’s a “worth it” food and what’s not.
[00:02:04] If what they’ve made you is not a word that food they don’t need to know you’re not gonna eat it later and you’re going to share it with someone else. “Thank you so much. This is wonderful. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.” End of story.
[00:02:16] Now, if — and this next piece might not even happen to this holiday season because there’s just not going to be as many social gatherings — but let’s say you are with somebody and they’re pushing you to eat something at a get-together that you’re either really not hungry at that moment or it’s just something that’s not a “worth it” food for you. And they say, “Oh, but you love this. I made it for you.” Again, “thank you.” Sincere compliment. “So pretty.” “Wow. This must’ve taken so much effort. Thank you so much.” And then, “I’m not hungry right now.” Period. End of story.
[00:02:53] There’s no way somebody can tell you, “but yes you are.” “Oh, eat it anyway? Oh yeah, I don’t eat things when I’m not hungry. I just don’t feel good when I do that.” People can’t argue with you about that.
[00:03:05] Alternatively, you could say, “you know what? I’m not hungry right now. Thank you so much for thinking about me, may I take a little bit of this home for me for later?”
[00:03:14] That is another way to handle it. Again, you don’t need to add that you’re not actually going to eat it, that you’re going to give it to someone else.
[00:03:20] Here is what not to do: explain your goals or defend your choice. You don’t need to tell somebody like, “Hey, I’ve been really working hard at eating nutritious whole foods and keeping my protein up and this just isn’t ‘worth it’ food for me.” You don’t need to do that and you should not do that. It usually doesn’t end well. It ends in a back and forth, you trying to defend your choices and you don’t owe that to anyone. “I’m not hungry, thank you so much for thinking of me.”
[00:03:48] All right. Our next question, question 2 comes from Stacy. Stacy wants to know, “how do I stay mostly on track while staying with in-laws for a week?”
[00:03:58] Great question. Here’s where I want to start. I want to start with a little perspective. This is really important: what you do most of the time is what matters most to your results, not what you do some of the time.
[00:04:13] This is a “some of the time” event. You don’t go most weeks of a month to hang out at your in-laws for a week. Right? This is a “some of the time” event. So keep that in mind and then remind yourself, really ask yourself this question: the last time you had a pinpoint perfect week. Or as close to pinpoint perfect as you can remember. Like, you were really on it with your nutrition, you were really on it with your workouts, you were really on it with your steps. The last time you had all of that perfectly in order, did you get to the end of any seven day period, look in the mirror, and just were like, “GOAL! I did it! That was it. I’m done. I got my results.”
[00:04:57] It doesn’t work that way, right? A week is a week is a week. Is it important? Yes. All of our decisions add up. But is any one week the be-all, end-all? It is not. And if it’s not the be-all, end-all to make your results, it’s not going to be the be-all, end-all to break your results.
[00:05:17] It’s just not going to be that important. So take a deep breath and remember perspective. It’s just a week.
[00:05:26] Then, let’s talk about what you can do. What opportunities do you have to make some headway towards your goals, even on this week where you’re hanging out with your in-laws — which you might not see as like a vacation week, which we might approach differently — but you still see it as like, “ah, this is not going to be a regular week.”
[00:05:46] The number one thing I would suggest is to be active. Go on walks, go on hikes, play some basketball out in the yard with the kids. Maybe do this as a group sometimes. And honestly, a 30 to 60-minute mental health break to take a little walk could be really impactful to how much you enjoy your week. Depends on your personality and the situation that you’re in with your relationship with your relatives. I personally always need some alone time away for my sanity and taking a 30 to 60-minute walk every day is a perfect reason for that.
[00:06:18] “Hey guys, I’m going on my walk, gonna be back.” Off you go. You can listen to the birds chirp or you can listen to a podcast. It kills two birds with one stone, right? You get some mental sanity having some alone time
and you keep your activity up. And then sometimes do things active as a group. You can take two walks a day, one by yourself and a littler one with the kids or with the whole family.

[00:06:39] Number two: are there meals you won’t be eating as a group? Things that are more like a “fend for yourself” kind of thing. Often that’s breakfast or lunch or maybe some of each. If there are, take advantage of these to just pop in some of your standards. What do you usually eat for breakfast? If you usually make an egg white omelet, make that. If you usually have some yogurt and berries, make that. When you get into town with your in-laws, run to the store and grab two or three things that you need that are kind of your staples and have them available. Use these meals that are on your own time to eat higher protein, get some vegetables, get some fruit.
[00:07:18] Now, number three: no matter what is served — even if every single meal is going to be eaten together as a group, and you have nothing to do with the selection of the food — you always control how much you eat, even if you don’t control what you eat. This is a great time to practice the skill of eating until satisfied, not stuffed.
[00:07:40] Eat slowly. Really practice eating slowly. Putting your fork down between bites and enjoying conversation with the people at the table. And then with this time you create, because you’re eating slowly, you’ll start to be able to pick up on the sensation of feeling satisfied before you get full. And start practicing stopping when you’re satisfied. This is an important skill.
[00:08:03] Eventually we want you to not be tracking calories and not necessarily be going by like, a certain amount of food on the plate. You know, it’s a great strategy to have half a plate of vegetables and a quarter of a plate of protein and a quarter of a plate of anything else. Eventually, what we want you to do is to be able to go more by, “Hey, I’m feeling satisfied. It’s time for me to stop eating.”
[00:08:22] This is a great time to practice that. Look at this as an opportunity, not as a roadblock.
[00:08:29] Question number three comes from Susie. “What is the best substitute for Christmas cookies?”
[00:08:36] My first question to you, anyone who was like, “Oh yeah, that’s my question too,” and to you, Susie, I know you’re listening: why do you want a substitute? What’s the purpose of the substitute and what kind of substitute are you talking about? Are you talking about a substitute as in like, “Oh, I’m going to have a protein cookie” or “I’m going to have an avocado cookie.” I went to a cookie exchange a few years ago and somebody brought cookies made out of avocados.
[00:09:01] And I was thinking like, “I love avocados. I don’t want avocado cookies, though.” I don’t. I don’t want my cookie to be made out of avocado. And frankly, I don’t even want my cookie to be made out of protein. I haven’t met a protein cookie yet that I’m like, “Ooh, that tastes just like my Toll House chocolate chips. I haven’t. I love protein, protein is important. I will get my protein from my chicken breast, from my yogurt, from my cottage cheese, from my ground turkey, and then eat a cookie that doesn’t have any protein.
[00:09:30] Or maybe you’re talking about those kinds of lists that show you like, “Oh, if you’re craving chocolate cookies, you should have X instead.” I remember I saw a chart not too long ago, and it said “if you’re craving chocolate, you should eat rabbit instead.” I laughed hysterically. First of all, where am I getting a rabbit? Where am I getting a rabbit? How do I cook the rabbit? And frankly, do I want to eat rabbit? If I want chocolate — what — why would I want rabbit? I’m not going to do that. I think those charts are silly.
[00:09:57] If you want a cookie, the key is to fit in the cookie, keeping in mind total calories — if weight loss is the goal, total calories have to be in check — optimal protein has to be present, and 80/20 eating. As in, 80% of your food is not cookies. 80% of your food is wholesome, nourishing, one-ingredient foods, okay? 20% of your food can be things like cookies. Could be all cookies if you want it to be.
[00:10:29] The key is to figure out how to eat Christmas cookies in that framework. So let’s talk about how do you do that?
[00:10:37] The number one thing I would suggest is figuring out what is worth it to you.
[00:10:42] What is worth it to you? For me, I pass on almost all sugar cookies. There are some sugar cookies I like, but mostly that just don’t do it for me. And so I pass on them. That’s not a “worth it to me” cookie.
[00:10:52] I pass on almost all store-bought cookies. I will say the one weird example is Target sugar cookies are actually pretty good. But most sugar cookies, it’s a hard pass for me.
[00:11:02] Chocolate chip, peanut butter… different story.
[00:11:06] What is it for you? What are your “worth it” cookies and what do you just eat because it’s there and it’s fine? So that’s the number one thing I would say.
[00:11:13] And the next thing I would say is: be strategic.
[00:11:18] Don’t do your holiday baking December 1st, December 6th, wait until closer to the holiday. Save your baking for closer to the holiday so there’s just less exposure time to the cookies. And then, also being strategic, do not bake so many that there is just an abundance of cookies for you to manage for a long time. Bake enough to be enjoyable for you and the people who live with you, but not so much that they last interminably.
[00:11:49] This is going to be an especially important consideration this year. If you usually bake for a crowd, but because of COVID there’s not a crowd and you still bake for the crowd, you’re going to be swimming and cookies. And that might make this more difficult to moderate because it’s just going to be over an extended period of time. So adjust your plans. Bake closer to the holiday, bake in smaller batches.
[00:12:12] And then the third thing is: storage is important.
[00:12:16] If you leave the cookies on the counter, if you leave them on a pretty plate covered with saran wrap in the middle of your island, you’re way more likely to eat them. Research shows us this.
[00:12:28] If you want to be less likely to eat something, you need to put it in an opaque container in an out of the way spot. So it is just not on your brain as much. So bake the cookies close to the holiday, smaller batches, put them in a container that you cannot see through in a spot that you do not see a lot.
[00:12:46] So don’t put them at eye-level right when you open your m
ain pantry, either. Put them up high so that they’re not just in your face.

[00:12:53] Remember, you can fit cookies into your weight loss plan over the holidays. You can fit them into your plan at any time of the year. It’s a matter of how you do it.
[00:13:04] I think I’m going to end there.
[00:13:06] It has been great being able to talk to you again. Coming back next week is the plan. Have a good one.
[00:13:18] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
[00:13:32] If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
[00:13:46] Thanks so much.