• Mary Pergola

Although the holidays are very enjoyable and fun, it is often very easy to get thrown off track with our healthy habits. Holiday parties, cookies brought into the office, cocktails with friends...constant temptations everywhere! But there are some simple ways to avoid becoming completely derailed. The key in all of the following tips is MINDFULNESS. Being mindful of our actions, our decisions and our choices will greatly improve our chances of not completely giving in to all temptations we are faced with over the next month.

1 - Don’t skip meals: If you head out to a party on an empty stomach, chances are you will overindulge when you get there and see/smell all the food (especially if you have a couple drinks while you are there). Make sure that you are eating plenty of healthy food the day of a party and eat something before you head out. Eat a small, healthy meal and drink water before you go.

2 - Bring a healthy dish: Tell the host/hostess that you will bring something to contribute to the party. Then decide what YOU want to have available to you at the party as a healthy option. Think veggies and hummus, fruit bowl, or even a hot dish (quinoa with vegetables and chicken for example). If sweets are your downfall, bring a simple, healthy dessert (Brownie Bites are one of my favorites - see recipe below).

3 - Choose drinks wisely: Alcoholic drinks contribute to empty calories and can also cause you to make poor decisions regarding food. If you must indulge, set your limit BEFORE you attend the party and then stick to it. Think about how it will make you feel during the night and also in the morning - the dreaded hangover. If consuming alcohol, alternate each alcoholic drink with water or seltzer.

4 - Choose your splurges: Decide what it is you will splurge on, if anything, at the party. Will it be the appetizers? Desserts? Drinks? Pick one thing so that you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself completely - it is a party after all!

5 - Savor your treats: When you do decide to allow yourself a little splurge, make sure that you take the time to really enjoy it. Eat slowly and really taste it!

6 - Check in with yourself: Eat slowly and check in with yourself while you are eating. Are you satisfied? If so, avoid that stuffed feeling and put the plate down! The same holds true for drinking. Drink slowly and check in with yourself. You may find that you are all set with the drinks.

7 - Say no to food and drink pushers: they are out there! No-one should be making the decision about what you put into your body but YOU! You can decline politely and even use excuses such as “I’m all set”, “I’m full”, or even “It doesn’t agree with me!”

8 - Visit the people, not the food: Remind yourself that you are at the party to enjoy the people. Move away from the buffet or dessert table to prevent mindless eating. Focus on the conversations with others at the party and you may find that you are distracted from the food.

9 - Don’t feel guilty: If you did go overboard, don’t beat yourself up. Start over by eating healthy, hydrating and exercising the next day. No need to dwell - pick yourself up and get right back on track!

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

New Year Resolutions - in theory, a great idea.  I mean, who doesn’t want to hit the reset button on their life every once in a while?  Fresh start, clean slate, another shot?  Sure, sign me up!   Most of us typically start off a new year with high hopes and aspirations - I’m going to lose 20 pounds; I’m going to start exercising; I’m going to start eating healthier; I’m going to run a marathon; I am going to start meditating.  The list goes on and on.  But 3 weeks in, reality sinks in and you think, ugh, this isn’t working…this is too hard, I don’t have enough time, I’ll never change, it’s too much work, I don’t really need to change anyway.  So, resolutions all of a sudden are not so great. The novelty wears off and we are left feeling defeated. There is, obviously, a flaw with resolutions that most people often overlook.  We tend to get so hung up on the “newness” of a new year and set goals, aspirations and expectations that are WAY too high and ultimately too hard to achieve.

So how can we avoid this pitfall? First is the fact that we commonly don’t take the time to really think about what it is that we TRULY want and need.  We customarily focus so much on our physical self and base all of our goals on that.  But what about our emotional self, our intellectual, spiritual and social self?  We are so much more that just our physicality and we can easily lose sight of the rest of what makes us, well, ourselves.  When we take the time to reflect on what else we need to do to improve upon all aspects of self, the goals that we set will be more well-rounded and in turn will provide us with what we need in order to reach our ultimate goal, which is more often than not, to be well. Creating a Wellness Vision can help to determine what it is you need in terms of your total wellness.  Envision yourself a year from now. Ask yourself questions, such as “Who do I want to be? What results do I want to achieve? Why does this matter to me? What strengths can I draw on to get me to where I want to be? What challenges will I overcome? What support will I put in place?” By writing a vision, you will clearly see what your goals should be and then you can more easily break them down into smaller, yet realistic, action items that are sure to be achievable.

Another way to avoid falling into the New Year Resolution abyss is to think about and identify specific actions and behaviors in working towards your vision. Most people typically set goals that are too big or lofty. It is important to understand that it is harder to climb a whole mountain on your first try than to climb with stops along the way to reaching the top. Look at your vision and break it down into 3-month goals, monthly goals and weekly goals. And most importantly, it is imperative to make each goal a SMART goal. And by SMART, I mean, Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic and Time-bound.  Without these attributes, the chances of reaching a goal are significantly less than if the goals are SMART.  For example, rather than setting a goal to eat healthier snacks, set the goal to make a grocery list and shop every Sunday for 2-3 options for healthy snacks for each day at work. The snacks will be fruit, vegetables or a healthy portion of nuts. Another example: rather than setting a goal of going to the gym more often, the goal can be to schedule yourself for a group training class on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00 and for a Yoga class on Thursdays at 7:00.

Together with our Wellness Vision, our SMART goals and our resolve to better ourselves, we can begin to live a happier, healthier life. Starting small and working your way up will set you up for creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime. No more making resolutions that hold no value and that aren’t set up with a specific action plan. Make 2020 your year to become that percent of people who stick with their plans and succeed!

Looking for some help getting started with creating your own Wellness Vision and goal setting? Need someone to whom you can be held accountable? Contact me via email at or private message me here on FB to learn how I can help you reach your goals in 2020.