Tips For Surviving the Holiday Season

Tips For Surviving the Holiday Season


Kathleen Trotter is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, and author of Finding Your Fit. A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit and Your Fittest Future Self. Kathleen has been a personal trainer and fitness expert for more than fifteen years. Kathleen writes for publications including the Huffington Post and makes regular TV and media appearances including CTV News, CHCH News, the CBC, Rogers Ottawa, Global Montreal, and Rogers London. Kathleen is currently flying to Montreal regularly for a monthly segment on Breakfast Television. In addition, she has written for the Globe and MailImpact Magazine, ParticipAction, Breathe, Alive, Canadian Running, Today’s Parent, Chatelaine, and Glow, and for six years she was the featured personal trainer in the Globe and Mail’s online Fitness Basics weekly web series and included in the Globe’s weekly newsletter for subscribers. Kathleen holds an M.Sc. in Exercise Science from the University of Toronto and a nutrition diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Kathleen is currently working to become a life coach and a certified Nutrition coach through Precision Nutrition.

Wondering how to survive the holiday season that is jam packed with delicious desserts and chilly days? Kathleen Trotter, upcoming author of Your Fittest Future Self, can tell you just how!


Set up systems NOW that will save yourself from your FUTURE holiday season self.

The holidays are hard; the season has a way of amplifying unhealthy habits and food triggers while simultaneously making it harder to stick to your healthier habits. You know this.
So, instead of sticking your head in the sand only to wake up January 1st feeling unfit and energetically low, work to Set Up Systems NOW That Save Yourself from Your Lesser Self.

Decide – in advance – which of my tips you will use! Create your strategy NOW!
For example, if you make bad choices when you get over hungry, never go to a party hungry. Always carry food in your purse so you can have a few almonds before walking into a work event. That way you will not “have to” grab a cookie. When you do end up eating out of being too hungry, try and make the deviation either less intense (1 cookie not 5) AND don’t let yourself spiral into a “who cares attitude” after eating those 5 cookies. Leave the party and go for a short walk and make sure you get your workout in that evening.

Basically, ditch willpower. Change THE SYSTEM!!!!

Make it simple – the power of 3

Often making healthy food choices can feel all too confusing, and when overwhelmed it is easy to say “screw it” and fall completely off the wagon.
The “simple” (but not always easy) rule I follow is the “rule of 3”. I save my cognitive energy by telling myself that every meal has to have a protein, a vegetable or fruit high in vitamins and minerals (green leafy vegetables or berries), and a healthy fat. Once I eat those three things I don’t have room for anything of the less healthy stuff!

It is not just about what you eat – it is about what you DRINK!
Many of us are aware of food, but fairly airy fairy about liquids. Liquids count – they contain calories and more important impact our blood sugar which effects our hormones and fat production.

Stay hydrated, watch your caffeine (and what you add to your coffee), avoid sugary liquids filled with sugar and empty calories AND always be aware of how much alcohol you are drinking.
Carry a water bottle. Set an alarm at work to remind yourself to drink water. Too often we misunderstand dehydration as hunger. Make yourself have a set amount of water before you get your morning coffee. Consider cutting your alcohol with a fizzy water or alternating water with each alcoholic beverage, or go wild and crazy an have weeks where you skip drinking altogether.

Live by the “How Can I Make This Meal a Little Bit Better??” question
You don’t have to make each meal perfect, you just have to make it slightly better than originally planned. So, if you were going to have 4 servings of pasta, have 3 servings and some green vegetables. If you were going to have 3 eggs, bacon and white bread have 2 eggs, bacon and 1 piece of seed filled bread. ‘Eating well” exists on a continuum. Instead of labelling foods as “bad” and “good” shoot to trend positive. Work to get to the stage of your eating continuum.

Do you. Be you. Thrive in your own lane

Become a Nutritional Agnostic! Find the food program that works for YOU. There is no best diet that works or everyone. All food plans have pros and cons. The one that is right for you depends on your time of life, your goals, your genetics, your lifestyle and your budget.

Ditch “Perfection” and embrace “Consistency”

A goal to be nutritionally “perfect” simply sets you up for failure – perfection is not possible!
Go ahead and mindfully enjoy a small portion of something you enjoy. I call this my “love it rule”. Love your mom’s apple pie? Have a small piece. Don’t mindlessly eat chips full of preservatives in front of the Tv.

It is not the occasional deviations from the plan that matter – what matters are the choices you make on a daily basis, how intensely you deviate from your norms when you deviate, AND how quickly you course correct. Deviations are not the end, they are part of the process.
When you fall of your health horse – you will you are human – stop yourself after one cookie not five cookies and seven beers, work to understand why the fall happened AND get right back on your health plan!

BE AWARE – Awareness brings choice
You can’t make better choices if you are not aware of the choices you currently make. “Better” means nothing without a relative starting point.

At least for a few weeks journal your food. Most of us underestimate our unhealthy choices and overestimate our healthy choices.
Use the journal to better understand –

When you eat and DRINK
WHY you eat and drink – are you mad, sad, tired, thirsty etc

HOW you eat and drink. Are you standing while eating? Eating when cooking? Eating of off your child’s plate?
Sit when you eat. Enjoy your food. Don’t mindlessly eat.

Portions. Portions. Portions
Portions count!

Counting exact portions can be overwhelming and tedious, but you need a rough awareness of the amount of any one food you are eating. One cookie is not the same as 5. ½ cup of pasta is not the same as 4 cups.
Think a portion of healthy fat is a thumb, protein as your palm is protein, veggies your fist and carbs you cupped hand.

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation
Prep healthy food in advance, have a weekly plan, know in advance what you will eat at restaurants and pack your lunch!


Match your holiday goals to the trade-offs you are willing to make!

Maybe December is not the month to contemplate losing 20lbs. For most of us that is not a realistic goal – 20lbs requires a level of abstinence and restraint not typically available during the holidays. A more realistic goal might be “not to gain” or to “be active three times per week”.

It is VERY discouraging to make a goal and not meet it. There is No Santa Clause – you don’t magically lose twenty pounds or get washboard abs. In life there are always “competing commitments” – the austere eating needed to get the six-pack vs the family social event. You decide. No judgement but be aware of what you need to give up and what you will get.Figure out what you are prioritizing. Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice.



Whether you are looking for more tips on how to survive the holidays or how to live and maintain a healthy life in general, Kathleen Trotter’s new book can help you out. It’s loaded with tips, information, and motivation to help you truly find your fittest self.


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