The Holidays: From Surviving to Thriving

Another year, another holiday season. Could any time of the year be more challenging than the holidays. We enter the season with great expectations, but also with a sense of dread. How will I handle it all? Once again we face the sinking feeling that life will overwhelm our best efforts.

We go out every day, without even a thought or a plan. Yet we face an industry that spends the whole year crafting foods to tempt us and wear us down.  No wonder the average person gains 5-8 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I’m here to say it doesn’t have to to be this way.

It’s pretty common for people to look at the season and assume that they will gain weight. And with all your friends agreeing, it seems inevitable. I’m here to say it doesn’t have to to be this way.

No resignation, no excuses.  Here’s to a season that will not just be good, but wonderful. If you’re ready to push your boundaries, to really do what it takes to succeed, than read on.

I’m starting you off with principles that really work. Not the typical how to’s, but a shift in perspective that will leave you ready and able to enjoy the holidays and take excellent care of yourself, too.

Ask the right question

Believing you have to give up everything you love in order to be healthy is a strategy that is unlikely to be successful. Remembering  that you can be Happy AND Healthy will bring you a different kind of creativity. You’ll find new ways to enjoy your meals and the things you love, without compromising your health or undoing all your hard work.

Your new holiday mantra – I can  be Happy AND Healthy.  How I can make this work?


Start every day with a plan

You’ve heard the expression, the one with the plan wins.  The food companies have a plan, so do the restaurants, malls and stores. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that you should plan for your own best interests instead of theirs?

For example, I keep high protein snacks and cut up veggies ready and with me. I anticipate meals out by choosing a restaurant that serves me healthy choices and I plan  my meal in advance.  There are so many informative  articles brimming with “how to’s”.  Find one that you like and practice as many of the ideas as you can. It will make a huge difference in how you feel come year’s end. Think:

  • Where will I be today?
  •  What will I be doing?
  •  What can I bring, do, or plan that will increase my odds of success?


Tools not rules

Going on a “diet” implies following a strict set of rules and doing the same thing every day forever.  Instead, you will manage your weight.  This means that you’ll have tools, strategies and skills, which you will apply, depending on your situation.

I know I talk a lot about getting enough protein. This strategy really does help most people stay in balance and ahead of their hunger. As you move through the holiday season and beyond, it’s good to have easy and available options for staying full and satisfied.

For many, protein shakes fill the bill. Having a protein shake (soup, juice, hot chocolate, cereal, etc) works great for a quick snack, a fast breakfast, or before a party. Get into a healthy routine and be prepared for all the inevitable challenges of the season. Have protein and healthy snacks handy.


Care for yourself as well as you care for others

One of the biggest mistakes I hear people make is when they say is  “I have to make myself the priority!”  In fact it’s likely that there are some pretty important commitments you have needing your attention.

What I’m suggesting instead, is that you remember that you are one of your priorities. Where is the first  place you need to to go to when overwhelmed or stressed? All of your new habits. Be your own Mama bear, tender and welcoming or ferocious when protection is needed. Make sure to include some personal time, and get comfortable with a sincere “No” or “No thank you” as needed.


Remember to party like a person who weighs what you want to weigh.


Special times require special skills:

  • Family visits present special challenges
  • Cruises
  • Reverting to childhood and the old ways
  • Family stress
  • And the opportunity to indulge in old favorites and long standing routines.


Most of the skills mentioned in this article apply. For me, being prepared mentally and physically seems to be the most helpful. When I imagine a great vacation full of love and relaxed laughter, I usually get blindsided. When I recognize there will be fulfilling parts along with the challenges, I’m likely to have a much better time and definitely take better care of myself.


These additional ideas and activities help, too.

  • Take a walk. Remember to include time for yourself or with a favorite friend or relative. It helps not to be swept up in the general activities.
  • Be gentle with yourself.


“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”


Cruises present a particular kind of challenge and they seem to be more popular every year. At the same time, they present an opportunity to care for yourself and have a great time, too. For some reason, they have become associated with massive, constant supplies of food. How do you prepare for that? Here are some suggestions that have helped many people who, like you, want to maintain a sense of control and good health: If there are 2 seatings, ask for the early seating (this is from several cruise goers and it does seem to make a difference). Stay on track with regular protein, even having a small snack before a meal. Choose the meals that are special to indulge in and eat modestly during the other meals.


Walk a lot, laugh a lot, relax a lot. Look for more ways to be happy and healthy.


You can be Happy and Healthy,

Dr. Gail Alschuler

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