As health and fitness professionals, we know that the holidays can be very challenging for our clients. The problem isn’t that they don’t know how to make healthy (eating) choices. Rather, the issue lies in emotional eating. Holidays present a number of potential emotional triggers including: eating for comfort, eating because of stress, eating because of depression, eating because of anxiety. The key is to address and deal with the underlying emotional cause of overeating.
Getting your clients to uncover the deeper emotional triggers and to face them will get them not only through the holidays but through the weeks, months and years to come with lasting success.
There is an excellent article in the latest (Nov. ’11) Idea Fitness Journal “It’s All in The Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating with Neuroscience”. In that article on page 45, there is a sidebar that gives a simple inquiry tool called ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie that can be used with your clients. I have used ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie for many years, very successfully with my clients.
Instead of giving your clients the typical tips and tricks for how to avoid packing on the pounds I suggest that you help them to make lasting changes by dealing with deeper causes of emotional eating.
I agree with everyone that has posted thus far, there have been some great answers. Personally, I really like the idea of challenging our clients to shift their paradigm. Rather than resigning themselves to the fact that it’s the holidays and they will inevitably gain weight, why not challenge them to maintain (or even drop one to two pounds) instead?
I just read a really great article written by Rachel Cosgrove and she writes about that the average person only gains one to two pounds over the holidays (U.S. statistics) which isn’t that bad but the research also showed they never lose that one to two pounds. In fact, most people gain one to two pounds a year on average over their lifetimes. She offers some great strategies and tips and tricks to avoid the holiday weight gain.
I personally really like the idea of maybe having an in-house competition with some type of prize (maybe training sessions) at the end in which you start a countdown until Christmas (maybe starting it in December) where you have a visible day tracker with the days remaining to maintain or lose one to two pounds (if that;s your goal) over the holidays. Thoughts?
I remind my clients that it is important to keep making healthy food choices during the holiday season. I ask them what they typically “splurge” on during the holidays. For example, let’s say their favorite holiday treat is pecan pie. I tell them that one slice is almost 500 calories. Therefore, if they were to eat one slice of pie a day, on top of their usual intake, over a week they would gain 1 pound (7×500 = 3500 kcals which equals 1 lb) just from the pie. Some clients tend to think since it is the holiday they can allow themselves a few treats a day. However, this shows that even one treat a day can have a huge impact. In this example, one slice a pie a day from Thanksgiving through to the New Year, would mean they can expect to ring in the new year 5 pounds heavier.
Instead of worrying about what you eating during the small span from thanksgiving and christmas – focus on the other 11 months that constantly impact your intake!
To put it in Perspective – Do not worry about indulging the large thanksgiving feast, holiday cookies, etc..
FOCUS ON: The 4 sodas you drink a day (Don’t care if its diet), 6 cups of coffee, Daily late night snacks. Slowly limit the foods/drinks that compose of overall diet on a regular basis!
Good Luck & Happy Holidays!
Fuel the Movement,