Holiday Challenge Tips

By Leo Babauta

For those of you who have taken on the SFH Holiday Challenge, the peak of the holiday season is upon us, which means some challenging times.

In this article I’ll offer a few tips for navigating difficult obstacles and sticking to the challenge.

  1. First, review your motivations. Why are you doing the challenge? If you’re not that motivated, you’ll give it up when things get difficult. “To look good” doesn’t quite cut it during tough times. Better motivations: to feel good about yourself, to learn to trust yourself, to set a healthy example for loved ones, to create a healthy lifestyle, to practice mindfulness and letting go of urges. Know your motivation well, and when things get tough, remind yourself.
  2. Renew your commitment. You have to be fully committed to the challenge if you want to succeed. That means not just signing up for this program, but writing down your commitment. What are you going to do each day? Who are you accountable to? Are you all in or not?
  3. Think ahead. What parties are coming up? When are you eating out? When are you traveling? Think about obstacles to your eating challenge, and what you’ll do to beat those obstacles. Often that means thinking about what you’ll eat at a party or restaurant. Or cooking ahead. Or packing snacks for travel. The successful challengers are those who think ahead.
  4. Plan your eating. This is part of thinking ahead, but having an eating plan is important. You can do this plan weekly or daily, accounting for everything you have going on.
  5. Block off time for your exercise. When will you do your exercise challenge? It doesn’t cut it to skip things because you’re busy or tired or traveling. If you block off time, you have no excuses.
  6. Step up your accountability. Get an accountability partner or team if you don’t have one yet. Announce your challenge on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog. Tell everyone about it and ask people to check on you daily. Make a promise to report on it afterward. Set a big consequence for failing or succeeding. You don’t have to do all of these, but do one or more to step up your accountability and commitment.
  7. Have defined “allowed” eating. It’s OK to eat desserts sometimes, or to give yourself space to eat whatever you want. But this should be done in moderation. So when will you “cheat” (though it’s not really cheating)? Maybe at a certain party? On Sundays? Plan ahead so you know exactly what’s allowed, and when you’ll be abstaining from the indulgences.
  8. Have partial cheats. Just because you’re at a party or family gathering doesn’t mean you have to go crazy. You can practice eating one dessert while making healthy choices the rest of the party. Eat lots of fruits and veggies at the beginning of the gathering, so you won’t be as tempted to go crazy.
  9. Log into the accountability forum daily. We created the SFH Accountability Forum just for you guys — make use of it! If you’re not logging your challenge, you’re not making the most of the tools we have available.

Have tips of your own? Share them on this thread!