We all have goals when it comes to health and fitness, usually, they are one of 3 different types of goals:
1) Lose body fat
2) Grow muscle or get better at fitness (ie. more burpees, do a pull-up, squat heavier, run further...)
3) Maintain where you're at all together
We tend to cycle through these phases during the year either naturally or we specifically force our way into one or the other. When you let your self go though these phases naturally yet strategically it makes for a much easier flow of life (aka lifestyle). But doing it naturally is rather difficult when you've been dieting and yo-yo'ing for so long, because we simply don't have a "natural" or intuitive way of reaching these goals.
Forcing yourself into a lifestyle may be successful but it can also backfire.....take the holidays for example. You've been trying to lose body fat all year, stressing and cutting food out for 9 months, then you finally find your groove around September/October then naturally you'll want to continue the success! But then *bam* you're face-planting into holiday season after restricting yourself for over half of the year-- you will find yourself ready to binge or frustrated because now, with all of the temptations, you will be no longer able to lose weight as easily (or at all). You'll be stressed out over your choices for the next 2 months and you'll be angry, or at the least, frustrated about once a week until the end of the year. Sound familiar?
Stressing out over things that were totally in your own control is not a healthy place to be. (And yes, your holiday food choices are within your own control, as much as we want to blame "the party".)
The best way to live a fat loss lifestyle is where you're able to focus on your goals for specific periods of time, then during times where social events pick up or holidays come, you're able to focus on maintaining.
Once that tough week- or 3- is over then you jump right back on the fat loss train. It will be easier, you will feel refreshed and you will be excited to begin again.
These seasons come and go, every single year, they cannot be avoided so why stress about it Every. Single. Year? If you set yourself up so you can coast (aka maintain) during these eventful periods then the fat loss periods will be so much more enjoyable and easier. This begins with focusing on fat loss goals during the times that it's easier so that times when it's not, you don't stress....it's not a 1 month rotation, it's created over time, over seasons of life, learned through looking back on your year and looking ahead at your goals and plans...making it a lifestyle learned from past experiences.
So how do I focus my holidays and social events? Well, for one, if it's a birthday party, I don't always indulge...ESPECIALLY on my own. I know that sounds weird but it's MY birthday and I can do what I want! My cousin ran 5 miles on her birthday and Gia said "why would she do that on her birthday??" like it was a punishment.....and I simply said "because she can do whatever she wants on her birthday, it's her day". And that's how I feel. I might have pizza or Thai food on Steve's birthday because that's what he wants and I plan on that but I keep away from the over-indulgences on my birthday because why feel stuffed and uncomfortable on my own day. I pick that day to be my choice.
Now, you may not want that on your day, you might want to be stuffed...but that's your prerogative. You do you, but it it sure feels great to begin your own new year feeling like you were in control!
We have to make choices that take us closer or further from our goals...and be OK with the choices. Selectively chose which events you want to have the indulgences and then be on-point the rest of the time. Also, be prepared to be in a maintenance state, or see fewer results, during the busy holiday season. That doesn't mean you get to go willy-nilly or eat all over the place, it just means your workouts may be fewer and your calories may be greater once a week but your OVERALL nutrition and fitness choices stay the SAME as they were (that's what maintenance is about, not falling off the wagon, but doing the same). You just eat with intention and enjoy the time with your family and friends while remembering: there is a difference between indulgence and over-indulgence.
During holidays and birthdays I make sure I have 2 goals:
1) Hit my workouts hard: with intention, lift heavy, push harder, especially on the event day, day before or after.
2) Eat with intention.
I still don't eat ALL of the foods ALL of the time but I do let myself have some of everything on the ONE day that is the social event. I also eat more meat and snack on veggies and fill my plate with veggies (even if I don't eat them all....because at least my plate is full). If you have more than one gathering, chose one to be your fun-food one...but just ONE. And don't let social pressure guilt you into having 3rds or more pie or extra anything because, let's be honest, you already planned which party was your "off-plan" one so having more than one all-you-can-indulge party is only hurting yourself and making you feel bad.
I think that enjoying family and friend time is important, I think balance in eating for fat loss and not for fat loss is important also. I think that when you let your self realize that these times come during the year but that you can hit it hard afterward, you're releasing yourself of both guilt and stress...when you don't have those things ALL of your fitness and health goals will come easier.