Whether you woke up this morning with a bellyache from too much Halloween candy or you had the strength to abstain, it’s November first and you know what the means…time to start panicking about the holidays! Are you worried about losing any progress you’ve made as holiday parties and obligations start filling your calendar? Are you already anxious about the post-Thanksgiving-feast coma you’ll be in just after you change into your sweat pants? Nervous about how all those holiday party cocktails will affect your waistline? STOP IT! Let’s try NO anxiety about the holidays this year – at least not when it comes to your weight. I spend November 1st through January 2nd talking women down off the ledge as they flip out about what to eat at a holiday party or get sweaty palms as they wonder how to survive a couple turkey dinners. Your body is much more determined by what you do between New Years and Thanksgiving that what you do between Thanksgiving and New Years – so relax. You don’t have to be riddled with anxiety, and you don’t have to sacrifice all the progress you’ve made. As your holiday schedule fills up, keep these things in mind: Just like you RSVP to a party, RSVP to your workouts. Take a look at your calendar before it gets too jumbled and be sure you’ve made time to keep up your trips to the gym. It will not only keep you on the right track but it will keep your stress at bay during this busy time. Get a reality check on the diet. If you had some Halloween candy, no biggie…but now it’s time to toss it or give it away. Your next big hurdle is Thanksgiving – honestly, that’s one meal so let’s not even worry about that one yet! Next comes Hanukah and Christmas – and the holiday parties, here is where it gets a little dicey. But don’t fret, we are prepared this year: Pick your most important parties, the ones you really want to relax and have fun at. Schedule those in as cheat meals and eat well for the days leading up to and following them. For other obligations that you need to be at but care a little less about, be sure you eat an on plan meal before you go and either avoid the hors d’oeuvres all together (knowing you can eat a healthy meal when you get home) or choose ones that are un-breaded, un-fried and contain some protein. Curtail the cocktails – plan ahead to have sparkling water or just one glass of wine or one drink. Stay hydrated. Drinking water or sparkling water will undo the dehydration from any alcohol – and a soda with lime gives you something fancy to sip and have in your hand while everyone around you imbibes. Choose your indulgences wisely. Most holiday meals and parties include some decadent desserts. If you could care less about pumpkin pie – skip it! Even if your Aunt (or whoever made it) will be slightly offended. If you’re going to indulge, have something that’s worth it to you. Avoid the mindless eating that can happen at cocktail parties or buffets, keep your wits about you and choose wisely. Post holiday party protocol: eat! Some times after we’ve indulged we can have a little freak-out and think “I’ll just skip breakfast tomorrow and only eat an apple for lunch (or other such nonsense) tomorrow to make up for these calories”. Remember you body is not a bank account, it’s a chemistry lab. Skipping meals the next day will only leave you ravenous come evening where you’ll most likely make poor choices that include lots of carbs and fats…because you’re starving! Who could blame you? Avoid this trap by opting for a healthy protein/veggie breakfast, healthy snacks and a big salad with protein for lunch – and lots of water, and you’ll be feeling great come dinnertime. Always remember you are only one meal from being back in fat burning mode and back on track. Here’s to a stress free, fat burning holiday season! That sounds a lot better doesn’t it? To really make this time of year matter, join me in my Body Gratitude project. For more info and to get your own project started click here Day 1 – I Am Grateful That I Am Strong And to kick off a great holiday season, here’s a delicious fall-inspired salad including an antioxidant and fiber rich, optimal carb – butternut squash: Butternut Squash Chicken and Arugula Salad Olive or butternut squash seed oil 1 chicken breast, diced 1 tsp lemon juice, or more to taste 3 handfuls of arugula 2 tbsp of marcona almonds or hazelnuts Baked butternut squash The recipe above is for one serving, but easy to multiply for meals made ahead or if you are feeding the family. Bake butternut squash and add to your individual salads depending on your carb tolerance (1/4 to ½ cup). To bake squash, preheat oven to 450degrees and peel and de-seed squash. Next, cut up into ½ inch cubes toss in a couple tbsp of olive or butternut squash seed oil. Spread on a cookie sheet or in a deep baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool 15 minutes. If you don’t use all the squash for this meal, add ¼ to ½ cup to any meal for a great optimal carb. Cube chicken breast (or breasts) and sauté with dash of garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper. Let cool 10 minutes. Or if you’ve prebaked chicken breasts – use that! Toss arugula, nuts and cooled chicken in 1 tbsp olive oil or butternut squash seed oil and lemon juice. Season with sea salt and black pepper if desired. Finally, add in your desired serving of butternut squash and its fall in a bowl…and perfectly balanced with a great carb, protein, veggies and health fat. Enjoy!