Holidays & Travel  

How to Mentally Prepare for the Holidays

The holidays are a time filled with merriment and joy, but it is also a time filled with food temptation, food pushers, and stress. Though it can be challenging, you can not only survive, but thrive during the holiday season. With the right mental preparation and guidance from Dr. Kim Feinstein, Psy.D., Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist, you’ll be able to arm yourself with the tool kit you need to succeed.

Develop a Positive Eating Attitude

Developing a positive eating attitude starts with leveling your expectations and dismissing excuses. If you’re expecting to overeat and put on weight, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. If you’re giving yourself the excuse to indulge and binge eat because ‘It’s the holidays!’, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. This is because your mentality impacts your actions. If you’re already thinking, expecting, or excusing, you’re pre-emotively preparing yourself for a step in the wrong direction. Dr. Kim recommends repeating these positive mantras to overturn a negative eating attitude:

“I expect to maintain (or lose) weight during the holiday season!”

“I will not overindulge just because it’s expected or acceptable. I will focus on friends and family, instead of food.”

“I am capable of following my RM3® meal plan this holiday season.”

Visualize Yourself to Success

If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it,” said the famous athlete, Muhammad Ali, and his words hold true.

There are different types of visualization that can help you reach your goals and get you through the holidays, but our two favorites are:

  • Outcome visualization: when you imagine your end goal. For example, you see yourself saying “no” to temptation at your family holiday dinner, and successfully stepping on the scale maintaining your weight the next day.
  • Process visualization: when you imagine each step, it will take to get to your end goal. For example, you side-step dessert at a holiday party, then prepare RM3®-approved recipes, and finally achieve weight loss maintenance at the end of the holiday season.

Dr. Kim provides further details on how to visualize success: “Think about what you are going to eat before the big day arrives. What will your plate look like? What will leave you feeling satisfied? Think from the end! Your future self, come January 1st, will thank you!

Prepare and Practice “No, Thank You”

It’s no secret that many loved ones like to shower us with love through food – especially during the holidays. Whether it’s piling on a plate of homemade goodies during a holiday party, offering an alcoholic drink during a holiday happy hour, or trying to stuff our faces with a feast, you’ll be surrounded by temptation now, more than any other time of the year. Facing this reality is the first step and preparing your plan is the next. This is your opportunity to stand strong! Rehearse your polite and confident way of saying “No, thank you!” in front of the mirror.

As Dr. Kim succinctly puts it, “The holiday season is filled with triggers and cues to overeat. If you do not deliberately try to respond in a different way than you had previously, you will end up falling prey to these cues, which will once again pack on the pounds. This is not what you want to happen. Instead, this year, let’s try something different. Let’s learn to make healthier choices, stay on track towards goals, and actively manage holiday weight!